About Face

My Journey To Better Skin with Visage Clinic

 When you feel confident, it shows.  Photo by Tobias Wang.

When you feel confident, it shows. Photo by Tobias Wang.

I have a confession to make. I love summer. I really, really love the sun and the heat and humidity, and I loathe the cold (not unlike a lizard).  So when the warm weather arrives, I revel in it. Now, I have never been one to just lay in the sun and bake (generally, too boring), and I have been a religious wearer of sunscreen since my high school years. But from May through September I am going to be OUTSIDE, baby. From dawn to dusk, and beyond, and I am going to love every darn moment of it. Add to that having a toddler (meaning it’s park and playground life every day) and a more flexible schedule than many that allows me to be not bound to a cubicle all day, and you get the picture. Wonderful, right? You bet. However, my skin may tell you something different.

 I can definitely say that I have spent more time outside in the past few years since having my son, and most of those days have been more devoted to protecting him from the sun than protecting myself. Add to that a general lack of sleep, some considerable stress in the last year and (ahem) advancing age (because we are all getting older every day, darling) and let’s just say that towards the end of this summer, things were starting to show. Luckily, it was just around that time that I had the opportunity* to test out some of the treatments at Visage Clinic, which is owned by Aesthetic Plastic Surgeon Dr. Marc DuPéré. My face and my health are things that I definitely do not take lightly, and would certainly not trust to just anyone. So please know that before I went any further, I definitely did my research. I was happy to learn that Dr. DuPéré is a board-certified plastic surgeon, that had credentials from both North America and Europe, and has been voted best plastic surgery clinic in Toronto for the past six years in a row. Reassuring, to say the least. So I booked a consultation, even though I felt a little nervous, and decided to let the experts recommend what was best for me and my skin.

 Before I go any further – I know that there are some people out there that may not understand medical aesthetics or plastic surgery, and see it in some way as “cheating” nature, or vanity, etc., etc. That is your prerogative, and there is a beautiful saying en Français that I probably learned from my grade six French teacher that beautifully illustrates my response to you: chacun à son goût. To each their own. If that’s what you feel, awesome. I don’t share your opinion. Look – nothing can compensate for truly loving oneself regardless of one’s appearance. That is the absolute truth. But personally, I want my exterior to represent how I feel inside, and I feel in some ways younger than I did in my 20s. (Perhaps becoming a parent has brought out the kid in me.) Plus – other than the aforementioned sun damage, and hyperpigmentation from pregnancy, I have had some skin challenges. I have struggled with acne on an off through my adult life, and that has left some marks, both physical and psychological. So while some may call treating this vanity, I call it levelling the playing field. Let that sink in for a moment, and let’s move on.

 I was immediately put at ease when I went in to Visage Clinic for my consultation. I had feared that a clinic like this in Yorkville would be stuffy or judgemental, and I couldn’t have been more wrong. Everyone was wonderful and knowledgeable – from the patient coordinators Margarida, Eva and Danielle, to master medical aesthetician Gabriela and Dr. DuPéré himself. I am and always will be a journalist – this is the foundation of my career – so I enter into everything with questions and an analytical mind. I’m almost entirely immune to sales pitches and can sniff out insincerity pretty darn quickly. Everything at Visage Clinic surpassed my expectations. I was welcomed so warmly, and treated with such care that I can’t tell you how happy I was with the experience. I respected the fact that the team considered what was best for me and my lifestyle. For example – laser treatments that target hyperpigmentation can also leave skin very sun sensitive, so it’s always best to wait until summer is over before starting them. What I appreciated more than anything was that Dr. Marc and Gabriela have a very genuine enthusiasm for what they do – it is apparent from speaking to them and on social media. And why would anyone want to deal with anything less than that when it comes to medical and aesthetic procedures? If I’m giving people my face to work with, other than having the right skill and credentials, I definitely want them to be interested in what they are doing. On all levels, I felt I was in the right place. And as a bonus, the clinic is beautiful, so it makes it an even nicer place to be.

 SO…. what did I do, and what were the results? Gabriela created an incredible four-step treatment program for what I needed to address about my skin – dehydration, redness, sun damage, occasional acne flare-ups, and plumping up the overall appearance of my skin. (Because I have always been all angles, and as the years go by, even more so.) We started with a facial to prepare my skin by  providing  intense hydration to the skin with Biologique Recherche products. What first struck me as interesting about this facial instead of using heat or steam, like so many treatments I have had in the past – it used cold. And when I say cold, I mean literally ice, ice baby. While this may seem less comfortable at first, trust me when I say that I definitely noticed difference in the level of hydration in my skin for quite some time afterwards.

 Next up was the Voluderm treatment with PRP – or platelet rich plasma. Yes, the famous “vampire facia.” This was a combo of an advanced micro needling technique combined with the application of PRP that was derived from my own blood. Firstly, a nurse drew some of my own blood, that was spun in a centrifuge so that the PRP could be isolated. The Voluderm treatment itself was really not difficult at all – the sensation was similar to a minor sunburn, I would say. Essentially, with micro needling like Voluderm, tons of tiny tears are created in your skin, followed by radiofrequency. The micro-perforations made by the needles stimulate the skin’s natural healing response, then the radiofrequency energy causes the skin to tighten. And then of course the PRP was applied afterwards to soothe and help the healing process of my skin. The result? Improved texture, tone and volume to the skin. I noticed results very soon – so much so that I took this picture with no makeup and no retouching just days later. As someone that has had plenty of issues with her skin before, this is not something that I would normally do. Was I skeptical about the Vampire Facial before the treatment? Totally, because it was such a Kardashian kind of thing to do, and that’s not usually my kind of thing. Was I a believer afterwards? 100%

 A few days post Voluderm plus PRP application, feeling good enough to go without makeup!  Photo by Tobias Wang.

A few days post Voluderm plus PRP application, feeling good enough to go without makeup! Photo by Tobias Wang.

A few weeks later, I returned to see Gabriela for the treatment I was really, really looking forward to, the “Forever Young” BBL Laser. This is the one that was going to really target my hyperpigmentation for the sun, redness from broken capillaries, blast any latent acne and really stimulate more collagen production. The treatment itself was a walk in the park – no numbing cream at all and I barely felt it. There were a few passes made over my face to target the various issues. I am so nerdy about this treatment because of the science behind it – we’re talking reprogramming gene expression with a laser to achieve better skin. Amazing. Afterwards, I felt great, but knew I needed to avoid working out, really hot showers and things like red wine and spicy foods for 48 hours, and needed to protect my skin from the sun and treat it gently. The sun damage on my skin “lifted” by getting darker at first, then eventually exfoliated off after a few weeks. The redness eased considerably (I’m rather self -conscious about this) and I would definitely say I looked refreshed. As for that “Forever Young” part – almost a couple of weeks later, I was carded at the LCBO at the end of a very long work day for which I had woken up at 5 am. And let’s just say they were way, way off. If that’s not a testament to it working, I’m not sure what is.

 Two days post “Forever Young” BBL. Definitely starting to see and feel the difference in my skin, with redness and hyperpigmentation

Two days post “Forever Young” BBL. Definitely starting to see and feel the difference in my skin, with redness and hyperpigmentation

To finish off my course of treatments, I saw Gabriela again for a 3D Lifting Facial. Part of the purpose of this was exfoliation, using an enzyme product to gently slough off all that hyperpigmentation, and part of it was intense hydration. Again – no steam, no heat (but no ice this time). Part of the process included a low molecular weight hyaluronic acid from the very exclusive Japanese skincare line Forlle’d that really penetrates the layers of the skin like no other product (because there are plenty of products out there that just sit on top of your skin with little benefit). I was seriously glowing after this experience – so it’s not surprising that it’s  a popular choice just before TIFF.

Has anything changed after all of this? My hyperpigmentation and redness have definitely reduced, my skin is way more hydrated (and I have learned that this is key to keeping the rosacea that runs in my family at bay), the fine lines around my eyes have reduced, and overall, my skin looks like it is refreshed and has more volume. I’ve had maybe one or two very minor pimples in the past 3 months (which, as a living person with a menstrual cycle is pretty bearable). But wow, does my skin look good.  Do I still look like myself? Thankfully, intentionally – YES. I look like me as if I hadn’t been woken up at the crack of dawn by my son for three and a half years, and as if I hadn’t worked in morning TV for years before that, and ate a perfect diet (hahaha). Would I do any of this again? Definitely. I would probably say that the BBL Laser is my favourite, if I had to choose. But without question, I see the benefits in the entire skincare journey I have been on with Dr. DuPéré, Gabriela and everyone at Visage Clinic. If you are looking for an incredible level of care, professionalism and skill in this field, I would highly recommend them.

* All services were generously provided by Visage Clinic, however the opinions are entirely my own!

Why Pilates Should Be A Part of Your Fitness Regime

I might be biased (I am a Stott Certified Pilates instructor, after all) but in my opinion Pilates is an essentail part of any fitness regime. Including yours. Yes, I mean you – whether you are a beer league hockey player, distance runner, Crossfitter, dancer, arm chair athlete or yoga enthusiast. I know this because of the profound difference it has made in my life, which is what led me to become an instructor. Now, it’s not the only thing that I do as a workout - I do HIIT, lift weights, run, and more, because variety is one of the keys to overall fitness. But - regularly incorporating some kind of Pilates into your life will contribute to greater strength, stability, and mobility for both women and men, young and old. Sure, I've heard that people say it's not a "real workout", but to that I respond maybe you haven't been doing "real Pilates." While it initially seem so subtle, Pilates is a form of training that has the potential to make make profound changes in how you look and feel.

 Photo by  Tobias Wang . 

Photo by Tobias Wang

 

Pilates is So Misunderstood

Before I go any further, let me clear up a little confusion. Pilates is not yoga. At all. While there are many exercises that involve work on mat and can help improve one’s flexibility, the similarities almost end there. So what is it? Originally called Contrology, then eventually renamed for its creator Joseph Pilates, it’s a system of exercises designed to improve physical strength, flexibility, posture, and enhance mental awareness. In the past 50 years or so there have been a number of schools that have expanded on these principles. Besides mat Pilates there is also equipment, known as the cadillac, chair, barrels, and my personal favourite, the reformer. What I love so much about it is the ability to work on strengthening the body and mobility at the same time, all while focusing on the body being in proper alignment – which is absolutely key for preventing or rehabilitating injuries.

 Photo by  Tobias Wang . 

Photo by Tobias Wang

 

A Strong Core…and More (wink, wink)

Working on a strong core really is (pardon the pun, but it’s just too easy) at the core of Pilates. While many spend a lot of time working on their so-called “six pack” muscles (rectus abdominis), we literally go deeper. The core is so much more than that. Perhaps of greater importance to your overall functional fitness and good posture are muscles known as the transversus abdominis, the obliques, multifidus (small but mighty muscles that run up your spine), the psoas and more. So while the six pack gets all the glamour, it doesn’t really do anywhere near as much for your strength, posture, and even the overall look of your body as much as these other muscles do. Then there are the muscles of the pelvic floor, which we work to engage in many exercises. Let’s just say there are many benefits to knowing how to recruit the muscles of your pelvic floor. As a new-ish mama, I know first-hand that Pilates is an incredible way to address some the physical challenges that can occur both pre and postnatal. And, just in case I didn’t already have your attention, strengthening your pelvic floor can definitely be a win for your sex life. So there’s that. 

 Photo by  Tobias Wang . 

Photo by Tobias Wang

 

The Freedom to Move

Our bodies are capable of moving in so many different ways, but most of us get stuck in the same patterns of movement every day. Whether it’s sitting at a desk at work or even running or cycling almost every day, repetitive patterns of movement can take their toll and create imbalances in our body.  Over time, these imbalances can add up to a lack of mobility and even injuries. Think runners with tight IT bands and weak glutes or desk-sitters with tight hip flexors, or even a dental hygienist that spends all day turned towards patients and finds that his or her obliques and neck are tighter on one side. Pilates emphasizes stability, strength, and mobility while working in proper alignment to avoid injury. A properly certified instructor can suggest exercises or modification to help you work out without contributing further to any imbalance you might have while working on correcting it.

 Photo by  Tobias Wang . 

Photo by Tobias Wang

 

Mind-Body Connection

While it isn’t spiritual in the way that yoga is, there is a definite mind-body connection required to perform the exercises properly. You really can’t zone out and be effective in this type of workout, because you need to concentrate on activating certain muscle groups while stabilizing others. That’s actually a really good thing. Most of us spend a whole lot of time disconnected from our bodies. Taking time to tune in to what is happening while working out is a great way to de-stress, because you can focus on the details of the exercise and leave that stressful day at the office/school/home at the door, for at least a little while.

 Photo by  Tobias Wang . 

Photo by Tobias Wang

 

Take it from the Pros

There are countless people that rely on their physical bodies to make a very considerable living that do Pilates, sometimes every day as part of their conditioning regimes. Athletes in the NBA, NHL, MLB, professional dancers, and more because they know it can up their game and increase their career longevity. Oh, and just in case any of the guys out there think Pilates is neither difficult or masculine enough for them, LeBron James is a fan and uses it as part of his training program. If it’s good enough for LeBron, you can bet it will do you a world of good.

 

As Joseph Pilates himself said, his method “is designed to give you suppleness, natural grace, and skill that will unmistakably reflect in the way you walk, in the way you play, and in the way you work.” If that sounds like something that pretty much everyone can use, you’re right.