Staying Young

Local experts are combining established med spa treatments and procedures with new ones, taking both in a direction that addresses the big picture of beauty.



Gabriela Varoudakis owns Suite Six Medical Aesthetics in Newburyport.

For decades now, the med spa world has raved about the miracle of the quick fix—fast treatments and procedures that change the way we look in a relatively short time. Almost anyone who’s tried them can attest: You see an immediate difference that improves your skin, rights a wrong angle, or helps you look younger.

And looking younger is indeed the goal for the vast majority of the people seeking medspa treatments these days. The procedures that are the industry’s workhorses are well known: injectable hyaluronic acid-based fillers such as Restylane (great for smoothing wrinkles and lip enhancement); exfoliators like dermaplaning (a chemical-free, no-downtime option), microdermabrasion (which uses a stream of fine crystals to painlessly diminish wrinkles and contend with acne and scarring), and chemical peels (resurfacing that ranges from subtle to dramatic); and, of course, that ultimate wrinkle-busting injection, Botox.

All of the above can generally be done on your lunch hour, and usually have little to no downtime. And yet, while they may all be cornerstones, they’re also part of an ever-evolving landscape of beauty treatments and techniques. And a small handful of local experts have emerged as leaders in approaching beauty as a larger puzzle—one that, rather than resorting to a dramatic change (à la classic face-changing surgical facelift), incorporates these procedures as part of a long-term, everyday effort that also brings in new procedures, products, and practices.

“We don’t ever want to change what people look like, we are interested in enhancing their natural attributes,” explains Dawn Tardif, owner of Bodiscience in Beverly. “Every client we treat is unique, and seeking their own personal results. In addition to offering stress-relieving experiences, Ayurvedic treatments, massage, energetic face and body treatments, the most important focus we have, is educating people on how to maintain the results achieved by partaking in a more medicinal approach. We focus on how people treat themselves overall.”

Tardif’s emphasis on the whole person and the big picture is a byproduct of her professional focus on Ayurveda, the holistic school she’s been trained in for years. “I share with clients that the secret to beauty is a delicate approach of creating lifestyle changes that nurture the whole you. If you decided to take a more medical skincare approach, we encourage considering a change in behaviors—so as not to re-create the skin condition you were seeking medical spa intervention of. We nourish the results achieved by creating self-care regimens to keep your skin ageless and diminish the stressors which cause you to age more rapidly.”

Tardif’s current favorite kick-starter is her Ageless Facial Kur, which utilizes light energy to enhance elasticity, texture, enhance luster, diminish wrinkles, and tighten and tone the skin for a lifting result. “Full-spectrum light therapy does all of that,” she explains. In the medical area “violet light is used in hospitals to kill bacteria, for example. So we harness light by combining it with other treatments. We have been introducing the Ageless treatments over the past few months, and the results are immediate, amazing, and noninvasive.

That emphasis on incremental and noninvasive procedures is shared by Dr. Anna Petropoulos, MD, who owns the New England Facial and Cosmetic Surgery Center in Danvers, and has decades of experience as a board-certified plastic surgeon and medical aesthetics expert. In fact, Petropoulos explains she was the first to pioneer the philosophy that emphasizes noninvasive procedures 15 years ago. Yet even as a plastic surgeon, she tries to avoid surgery whenever possible, and instead focuses on nonsurgical techniques. For example, she’s over the moon about a procedure called Fractora, which uses radio-frequency technology to retexture and tighten skin, alleviate fine lines, wrinkles, and acne scarring. “We all age,” she says, “and our jawlines drop three to four millimeters per year. One of these procedures per year will stop that change.” The Fractora results are spectacular—similar to the old gold standard of CO2 resurfacing, however with no downtime or discomfort. “The skin tightening achieved with this technology is a major breakthrough for the medical aesthetics world,” she says.

 Dovetailing with the skin tightening achieved by Fractora, she customizes an injectable treatment plan to restore youthful contours for each of her patients in a natural and harmonious way. “You really do need to trust yourself to someone who has a meticulous and artistic eye for beauty,” says the former model. “You can’t just have someone use a needle. I love my profession. It’s a marriage of art and science, and it’s such a pleasure to bring joy to people’s lives and make them happy about how they look.”

“Women want to look refreshed, not overdone like they just had an injection,” says Gabriela Varoudakis owner of Suite Six Medical Aesthetics in Newburyport. To that end, she advocates the medical-grade product line SkinCeuticals, which she teaches clients how to use at home to keep up between treatments—say, brightening peels that help with hyperpigmentation. “A lot of clients are spending money on IPL peels elsewhere, but then they come to us because the pigmentation has come back if they’re not using the right home care,” says Varoudakis, whose practice offers a roster of medical beauty treatments but focuses primarily on improving skin. “We have a home-care kit of sunscreen and serums that help in between those annual peels. Sure, we can give you those instant results of a treatment, but we work hard to educate the client and change their thinking so they know how to maintain it.”

For these experts, maintenance is the watchword. “It really is about making everyday changes,” says Tardif. “When you see a woman with a great smile, terrific skin, and a sparkle in her eye. And you just know she’s taking care of herself in small ways every day. That’s what real radiance is about.”