There was a time in the not-too-distant past when the belief was that the med spa – and the appearance-altering cosmetic treatments offered within its doors – was reserved for the older “ladies who lunch” set.
The med spa demographic has changed in recent years, however, as 20-somethings and people of all gender identities enter the medical cosmetics equation. Fittingly, Toronto has seen an increase in shiny new med spas as of late – everywhere from Yorkville to Corktown.
“While the initial applications of injectable treatments (like Botox and filler) were focused on correcting the undesired signs of aging – and still are used for that – their use has substantially evolved over the last decade,” says Dr. Basil Hassouneh, the lead surgeon at Yorkville’s new(ish) D Luxe Lab, which opened its doors in September 2020. The stylish med spa – owned by local powerhouse Dema Najjar – sees a diverse clientele come through its doors.
“Med spas are no longer limited to ‘older ladies’ seeking reversal of the aging signs. Younger crowds are increasing their share of injectable treatments to prevent aging changes even before there are visible signs,” says Hassouneh. Such treatments relax the hyperactive muscles of facial expression and stimulate collagen build-up and restoration, he says. Young people are also among those turning to injectables to enhance their natural beauty – something that’s undoubtedly been fuelled by famous faces like the Kardashians, and by social media.
Things like lip contouring, liquid nose reshaping, chin shaping, and chemical brow lifting can enhance facial aesthetics. Injectables can quite literally change the shape of a face and offer a surgery-free nose job – so, you can test it out before opting for the real deal. “Clientele will come in for masseter (the strongest muscle in your cheek; it’s used to chew) Botox to achieve a more almond shaped face; this is particularly popular with women,” says Dr. Cory Torgerson, a leading surgeon in the cosmetic aesthetic industry. His latest venture is Toronto’s Sovereign Skin, a new opulent cosmetic clinic on Hayden Street.
Lip filler, says Torgerson, was particularly a growing trend in the cosmetic industry in 2020. “The Lip Flip with a neuromodulator (like Botox or Nuceiva) is increasing in popularity with both the young and the mature clients as a way to roll-out the lips without adding more volume,” he says.
As a sign of the times, the med spa industry is also seeing an increase of clients who are transitioning genders and turning to injectables to alter facial features – opting to either harden them or soften them. “Injectables can assist individuals seeking to enhance masculine or feminine features; careful selection and execution of injectable treatments can achieve the desired gender features,” says Hassouneh. “Areas of specific focus are the lips, chin, jawline, and cheeks. These can be affected with injectables to enhance masculine or feminine features to reach the desired facial balance.”
To soften the face, fillers are used to enhance the existing fat pads to soften the contours, providing a lift and roundness, says Torgerson. Conversely, to harden features, filler can be used to create strong edges around areas like the chin and jawline, nose, and cheekbones. “This creates contour and definitions,” he says.
Both doctors agree there has been an increase in male customers, who opt for everything from Botox to hair transplants.
According to Torgerson, the FUE Hair Transplant for men has seen a 30 per cent increase in bookings during COVID. “FUE Hair transplant is a day surgery that doesn’t use the former strip graft method that left an unsightly, large scar at the back of the head,” says Torgerson.“Today’s methods don’t create a large noticeable scar and the transplanted hairs each have over a 94 per cent growth success rate, so results are typically excellent. Men can plan their recovery much easier now that they’re working from home don’t have the same types of public engagements to attend that they formerly did.”
For some, the choice to visit a med spa actually has little to do with personal aesthetics and is more about function. “Neuromodulators like Botox and Dysport are used for treating persistent medical conditions such as night grinding and migraines, with dramatic improvement in symptoms,” says Hassouneh.
Scarring is also a hot area with the younger population who may suffer from acne scars, says Torgerson. “Filler can be used along with subscision techniques to lift up and break the bands under the scars that pull it down, creating the indentation,” he explains. “Directly filling the indentation with injectable filler to help mask the scar is also an option.”
It’s safe to say that the med spa industry is thriving, with an allure that’s both fascinating and tempting to a growing clientele. The global medical spa market size is expected to reach USD 33.9 billion(!) by 2026.
Recognizing this, Najjar swapped a successful career in finance for medical cosmetics with the creation of D Luxe Lab. “While I was doing my MBA at Rotman, and while I was working at Capital Markets at MCAP, I noticed that people work hard to maintain and improve their health, wealth, and education,” says Najjar. “That’s why I got hooked into this field, as I truly believe that people should be working on maintaining their skin and their appearance, as aging is a factor that can negatively impact our skin and appearance if we do not start taking prevention and correction steps to manage it.”
As Torgerson points out, COVID has resulted in more time at home to look in the mirror each day and – subsequently – consider different cosmetic treatments.
“We’ve been busy throughout the pandemic, mainly with increased interest in surgical procedures that require more down time,” says Torgerson. “Those still working, with excess cash flow, no longer have sports and entertainment, travel, spas, and restaurant outings to spend it on. They’re using those funds on treatments and surgeries they may have considered for many years, but not necessarily had the time available before COVID, or the desire to put expendable income towards these procedures above other social draws.”
So – in all of the COVID-inspired craziness –at least we have that silver lining (even if it’s fuelled by a desire to look more awake on endless Zoom meetings).