The practice of medical aesthetics is one of those fields where the better the practitioner the more difficult it is to identify his or her work. Because, of course, patients who look and feel their very (and individual) are often worked on with subtlety. But unfortunately in an incredibly competitive and variably regulated field, it’s the worst-case results that get the most gasps and attention. And the unfortunate result is that there can be a stigma to, say, botox when it can help with everything from the usual wrinkles and signs of age, to facial asymmetry, drooping eye lids, gummy smiles and so on. And that’s just botox. The field has advanced considerably and is worth a second look if you previously eschewed it. And today that’s why we connected with our friend Michele Rivard to discuss.
Increasing Opportunity for Women to Lead
According to American Express, ‘State of Women Owned Businesses’ report, beauty and healthcare are of the largest category for women-owned businesses. And of course the majority of consumers (85%) in the medical aesthetics field are women. But women still lag behind as leaders. So we reached out to our favorite entrepreneurial aesthetician, Michele Rivard, to talk about her work in this field and how consumers can take full advantage of looking and feeling their best while avoiding missteps.
And Michele knows of which she speaks… holding a Doctorate in Physician Assistant Studies with a Fellowship in Facial Plastic Surgery from the University of Lynchburg. And as an active member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Society of Lasers in Medicine and Surgery. Michele’s specialities also include lasers, skincare, facial filler injections and neurotoxin injections. So she is the right go-to on the subject!
How did you get your start in aesthetics and plastic surgery?
My initial career was in theater and dance. I had always been drawn to medicine and after an injury that resulted in right-sided facial paralysis I knew that the time had come to change my path. Throughout my training I knew I wanted to focus in the field of plastic & reconstructive surgery. And especially in the subfield of aesthetics. In this area I would be able to blend my artistic experience with medical training to give patients the outcome they were looking for. I have now been in this field for going on 21 years and I still feel as much passion for it today as I did in the beginning.
What has your career journey looked like?
My journey has been a continuous path. The field is constantly changing with new products, techniques and research; and there are always new ideas on the horizon. I constantly seek to improve my knowledge. Even though I have a doctorate, two fellowships and all these years of experience. I have also been extremely fortunate to have been mentored by some of the best around.
While it has become more mainstream to seek out both medical aesthetics and plastic surgery, why is there still a stigma?
Old habits die hard. For sometime now, there has been pressure from social media, magazines, fashion — you name it — to look a certain way. We also have been raised that we should be happy with how we look. It a constant conflict. I personally feel that surgical procedures are about enhancing what is there versus changing things. It’s about being the best version of yourself that makes that inner confidence show. I think as people see that things don’t have to be drastic these procedures will be better accepted. It is changing – just slowly.
Often times it’s the “fails” that drive public opinion — which is unfortunate because when done well it’s hard to tell! Why do some go too far?
Aesthetics can be a competitive big business. You can find a Medspa or doctor’s office doing aesthetics on almost every corner. Not everyone is in the industry for the same reason. Too many are happy to comply with a patients wish even though sometimes it might not be the best procedure for them. There is a misperceived concept that more is better. Subtlety is an art. And full honest discussions need to be had to create a harmonious outcome that is pleasing.
What should consumers look for in a medical aesthetics practitioner? What should they ask for and expect?
Training and background are always important. In addition there needs to be honesty in the discussions as to what the risks, benefits and expectations are. It should be educational as to what needs to be done to address what you are seeing. They should be willing to spend time with you and learn about you. You should feel comfortable with and confident in your provider.
What’s next for you and your practice?
That’s a big question in this Covid era. Hopefully to have the opportunity to touch more lives and work with them to be the best version of themselves and not what social media, or others expect them to be.
[Editor’s Note: I felt so lucky to meet Michele a few years ago. We all have those little things on our beings that drive us crazy. For me, it was a bit of unevenness in my eyebrows. I would do a lot of TV interviews and notice that my facial muscles did not keep up with my animated expressions! So I started with botox about five years ago; and Michele has been the one person I’ve consistently relied upon. She firmly encourages a ‘less is more approach’. She also deeply understands how to work the network of facial muscles in each of us to get the right result. Medical aesthetics should be explored. But you should also ask the hard questions and make sure you have the right practitioner to guide you. To get in touch with Michele Rivard, check out our women-owned directory. Or send us a note -Shannon]