Non-Invasive Cosmetic Procedures

Skin deep.

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“Would you like a latte?” asks the dewy-faced woman as she ushers me down the hall, past dramatic glass-framed views of False Creek. One could be forgiven for mistaking this place for an upscale boutique hotel, with its dark wood floors and swish décor—that is, if boutique hotels specialized in sticking needles in your face. This is Carruthers & Humphrey Cosmetic Dermatology, and the place hums with a steady flow of visitors all here for the same thing: the latest non-invasive (meaning: no surgery) cosmetic procedures that can easily be undertaken on a lunch break.

I’m not here to stop the clock—I just don’t want the seconds-hand ticking so loudly in my ear. But how are these quick solutions so different from covering grey hair with chemicals or shaving legs? Dr. Shannon Humphrey isn’t in the business of answering value-based questions, but she is a big believer in looking your best at any age, in part with the help of “evidenced-based skin care.” In other words, she assesses your skin (sun damage, premature wrinkles) and, collectively, you decide how far you want to go to address the issues. Double chin? There’s a new treatment called Belkyra for that, an injectable that dissolves fat permanently (Humphrey, as lead investigator, was instrumental in bringing the drug to market and training other leading doctors on how to use it). Early signs of facial volume loss? There’s Sculptra, another injection that stimulates the body’s natural collagen production. I’m piqued.

Sculptra has an ability to awaken collagen creation so your face can fill in volume naturally, rather than relying on fillers or freezing to do the heavy lifting. First, a topical anaesthetic is liberally slathered on my face before I’m handed a rather disconcerting tool that looks like a cross between a microphone and an outsized vibrator. The massager is to be applied directly under my chin to improve my comfort while a needle injects a poly-L-lactic acid along the side of my face. Like lifting weights, results are not instantaneous—I’ll have to wait two to six weeks for my body to start producing what it used to.

NDSkin (formerly Point Grey Wellness Clinic)’s Dr. Alyah Karim favours a new approach to cosmetic procedures that first looks for the root causes of premature aging before treating through a naturopathic lens. “Addressing skin from outside and inside, I look at hormones, nutrition, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies by doing lab tests first,” she explains. An IV therapy or a vitamin drip can help the body restore lost nutrients so skin can repair from the inside while paired with external treatments like micro-needling, a process where an instrument with tiny needles is rolled over the skin to help distribute topical serums more evenly, as well as amp up collagen production with tiny punctures. Karim’s cosmetic practice hinges on a new, cleaner version of fillers and injections that are free of additives. Business is so brisk that Karim has had to hire more staff and, this fall, will refocus her clinic on cosmetic dermatology exclusively.

Then there’s Project Skin MD, which takes a multiple-entry approach to skin care with both aestheticians and physicians on staff for a host of treatments. “There’s still a perception out there that if people go to a clinic, they’ll not look like themselves,” says founder Dr. William McGillivray. “But, there’s an evolution in treatments now so people can look like themselves with minimal-to-no downtime at all.” Come October, Project Skin MD will unveil a new wing, encompassing a peel bar for express treatments and spa-inspired rooms for non-invasive facial treatments. It will also offer a new LED light therapy device called MAX+ LED, making it the first clinic in British Columbia to do so.

Back at Carruthers & Humphrey, post-Sculptra, I hold up the mirror and am surprised to see immediate results—my nasolabial folds are now nice, soft indentations rather than deep crevices. “Oh, that’s just the temporary swelling,” explains the nurse. “It should subside in a day or two.” I’m briefly disappointed, but if it’s any indication as to the more youthful look I can expect in two-to-six weeks’ time, I may just have to check back into this room again soon—over lunch, of course.


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November 27, 2016