In 1999, when I first stumbled across laser devices that could be added to a medical practice, the term “aesthetic medicine” had not yet been invented. It eventually came into being as gradually more and more procedures, products, and tools became available over the years to allow non-surgical cosmetic enhancement to the skin and underlying tissues.
I’d say the timing was right. Social perspectives were changing and the demand for less invasive and more affordable means of looking fresh, healthy, and youthful was on the rise. Baby boomers, with a more active lifestyle and increasing focus on health and beauty, wanted to look as good as they feel.
At first it was laser treatments: for hair removal, spider veins, sun damage, and other blemishes. Collagen and some synthetic injectables intended for acne scars were being used more and more often off-label for lip plumping, and treating wrinkles and facial lines. By 2001, Restylane ® was approved, soon followed by Botox®, and very quickly an entirely new industry blossomed, known today as aesthetic medicine.
Interestingly, in the early days no one knew the direction the industry would take, that it would include practitioners across many medical specialties, and how popular these treatments would become. In many ways, the Europeans were years ahead of everyone else, doing treatments like mesotherapy and thread lifts, and injecting fat-dissolving substances among other things. Many Asian countries also quickly embraced the trend and are now leading in many respects.
Canada has the distinction of being the birthplace of the cosmetic use of Botox, pioneered by Dr. Jean Carruthers and her husband Dr. Allistair Carruthers. Professors of ophthalmology and dermatology, respectively, they conducted and published numerous studies, wrote textbooks, and greatly advanced the field of aesthetic medicine because of their efforts. Today, Canadian pioneering specialists like Dr. Arthur Swift, Dr. Kent Remington, and Dr. Claudio Delorenzi amongst many others continue to cement the reputation of Canada as a world leader in the field of medical aesthetics.
Currently, the fastest-growing segment in the industry is a variety of body sculpting treatments. From skin tightening, cellulite smoothing, contouring, slimming, and muscle toning, it seems like the sky is the limit. There has also been an immense evolution towards results that are natural, beautiful, and attractive. Patients look and feel healthy, vibrant, and refreshed, with nothing fake, distorted, or obviously “treated”. Thankfully, I embraced this approach early on in my practice.
Most exciting is that the journey has just begun. Continued research, technological advances, and a constant drive towards safer, more effective, and holistic measures keeps the industry growing in leaps and bounds. As anti-aging medicine becomes more acceptable and regulatory approvals take place in the future, there is much that we can expect. Potential treatments include physiological hormone replacement therapy, gene therapy, and stem cell treatments.
Much research about the science of aging is shedding light on many potential ways of providing not only a longer lifespan, but also a healthier one, while retaining both a youthful appearance and attributes.
I look forward to continuing to share the latest research and practice with you, my patients.
Dr. Renier van Aardt