Aging Gracefully

Aging Gracefully

Are your laugh lines, thin lips and uneven skin tone bugging you but cosmetic surgery is not what you have in mind? Non-surgical medical aesthetic treatments can help fix those minor flaws with little or no downtime all right here at spas in Southern Oregon.

Choosing the right treatment

Botox, dermal fillers, laser treatments, chemical peels, phototherapy, micro-dermabrasion — they're all treatments to reduce wrinkles, remove spots caused by sun damage and improve overall skin texture and tone. With so many options, how do you choose? You start with an intensive consultation with a medical aesthetic professional to do a skin analysis and talk about your concerns. "We come up with a plan together," says Abby Coats, a certified physician assistant in charge of non-surgical rejuvenation procedures at The Spa at Medical Eye Center in Medford.

Choosing the right provider

Just because the treatments are non-surgical doesn't mean anyone can or should perform them. There's a reason they are called "medical aesthetics" — medical professionals need to administer the injections, lasers, chemicals, ultraviolet light, radio-frequency waves and other types of treatments. "It's very specialized for me," says Joyce Solar, a registered nurse with The Spa at Club Northwest in Grants Pass.

Coats stresses that medical knowledge is necessary when working with the skin, muscle and anatomy to administer medical aesthetic treatments. "I've had the correct training," she confirms. "I don't feel that just anybody should be doing them."

The experience of the medical aesthetician is the first priority when choosing the right provider, Solar notes. It's also important to be treated in a professional setting. She doesn't recommend going to parties to be treated by freelance aestheticians. "Home Botox parties — that is not the way to go," she states.

Tamara Dixon, a licensed nurse practitioner with The Blue Giraffe Day Spa & Salon in Ashland, specializes in injecting Botox and facial fillers to create a natural, soft look. Jimmy Kolker, the Blue Giraffe's owner, thought it was important to add medical spa treatments to the list of aesthetic options his spa provides. "People are more comfortable going to a spa than to a doctor's office," Kolker believes, adding that it's a less formal environment but still professional and sterile.

In Kolker's opinion, it is also important to have an expert medical aesthetician providing the services. Having a better understanding of the human body is critical, he confirms. Botox and dermal fillers are safe products, he notes, but an expert medical professional administering them adds another layer of safety.

Who's getting what?

At The Spa at Medical Eye Center, Coats says the No. 1 treatment is Botox, but she also injects dermal fillers and performs numerous photo-facial treatments and laser peels. At The Spa at Club Northwest, Solar says Botox and laser treatments are popular. "Laser is hot right now," she confirms. The Blue Giraffe Day Spa & Salon stays busy with Botox, facial fillers and micro-dermabrasion.

Women make up the largest part of the clientele at medical spas, but more men are starting to realize the benefits of skin-care treatments. Coats reports that her male clients request Botox, phototherapy and dermal fillers. "They don't want any downtime," she explains. "They don't want to look like they've had anything done."

People of all ages are seeking medical spa treatments, but Coats notes that many younger women are coming in to be proactive. No longer are people waiting until the damage is obvious. "The new paradigm is to look like you've never aged," she says.

How often?

Depending on the clients' needs, the number of times a specific treatment is administered varies. Coats compares improving skin quality to losing weight. You can't work out at a gym one time and expect significant results. She makes an individually tailored plan for each patient. Once the goal is reached, a maintenance plan goes into effect.

Solar confirms that many treatments require multiple sessions, including laser treatments. Botox needs to be redone every three to four months. She likes to do derma fillers in stages. "It's a nice, easy transition," she says. Once the fillers are injected, they will last for many months, and Juvederm Voluma lasts up to two years.

No pain, no gain?

Some procedures are painless; some aren't. With injections, there might be some stinging and later some swelling and bruising. With the chemical peels and dermabrasion, there will also be some discomfort and downtime, depending on how deep they go. Numbing creams and nerve blocks are used for more painful procedures. "We make it as tolerable as possible," Coats says.

Being realistic

Medical aesthetic treatments are not a magic pill that will perfectly fix every flaw. Most people want maximum results with minimal invasive treatments, but some goals can't be achieved at a medical spa. "My goal is that they have realistic expectations," Coats says. "If you're looking for a facelift, this isn't the place to come." She refers clients to a plastic surgeon if necessary. Solar follows the same path with her clients. "I give them realistic expectations and results," she says.

Treat yourself to a treatment

Sonophoresis/Ultrasound Facial

A serum of active ingredients is applied to the skin, containing agents and vitamins to hydrate the cells and stimulate collagen. Then ultrasonic waves are used to dramatically increase the depth and rate the serums are absorbed into the skin.

Radio-Frequency Skin Tightening


Using a device to deliver radio-frequency (RF) energy into the deeper layers of the skin, this treatment is non-invasive and FDA-approved. The energy causes a heating action that immediately tightens skin tissue and structures, improving facial lines and wrinkles. A single treatment can last a month, but a series of treatments is recommended for better quality and longevity.


Microdermabrasion gently sands the skin to remove the outer layer, improving complexion and the appearance of sun damage. There are two methods of microdermabrasion treatments: One uses a handheld device and the other uses a diamond-tipped wand.

Chemical Peels

A chemical solution is applied to the skin to smooth texture and tone by removing damaged outer layers. The types of peels differ based on which solution is used and how deeply it penetrates. Most spas do superficial peels that use a mild acid. Deeper peels are usually done in a medical office using sedatives or anesthesia.

Botulinum Toxin Treatments

(Botox, Dysport, Xeomin)

All three products use an FDA-approved neurotoxin injected into the skin for paralyzing little muscles in the face to prevent those muscles from furrowing the brow or squinting around the eyes. All three work slightly differently, and often practitioners and clients will have a preference for one over the other. Botox has been the gold standard for more than a decade, with Xeomin being the most recent on the market, approved in 2010.

Dermal Fillers

(Juvéderm, Radiesse, Restylane, Perlane)

These products are gels or pastes that are injected under the skin to minimize lines or grooves caused by time. All treat the laugh lines around the mouth, but some are also used for other areas including the cheeks and lips. Juvederm, Restylane and Perlane are synthetic versions of hyaluronic acid, which is naturally found in the skin and joints. Radiesse consists of hydroxyapatite. Restylane, Perlane and Radiesse have denser composition, compared to Jevederm's softer, gel-like consistency. Again, the four products are for the same purpose but work slightly differently, so practitioners may have differing preferences for brands and uses.

Photo Rejuvenation

(Intense Pulsed Light-IPL, PhotoFacial, FotoFacial)

Using a form of LED light, an intense light is emitted in gentle pulses over the skin, penetrating to all levels of the skin. It is used for improving the appearance of sun-damaged or aged skin. The recommendation is multiple sessions over several weeks for best results. IPL is also used for hair removal.

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) for Acne/Rosacea

A form of LED light, that when combined with nontoxic light-sensitive compounds, destroys the bacteria that causes acne painlessly. Most patients need more than one treatment over several weeks.

Laser Resurfacing


The laser beam used in laser resurfacing will remove the outer layer of skin, called the epidermis. It simultaneously heats the underlying skin, called the dermis. This action works to stimulate the growth of new collagen fibers. As the treated area heals, the new skin that forms is smoother and firmer.

Laser Hair Removal

Using a precise wavelength, the laser is used to target the melanin of the hair follicle. The type of laser used depends on the color of skin, color of hair and area being treated. The best candidates have fair skin and dark hair. Though the majority of hair loss is permanent, it may require multiple treatments and occasional follow-ups.

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