Editor's Note: This is the second article in a two-part series. Read more in Part I, on Dayan’s efforts to educate both estheticians and medical spa professionals.
Education, art and passion collide in Steven Dayan, M.D., FACS’s practice. Based in Chicago, SDMD offers surgical and non-surgical esthetic treatments, but the heart of Dayan’s work lies in education and understanding the motivations of his patients.
In an evolving industry, Dayan's True Skin Care Center works in tandem with his cosmetic surgery practice to provide medically-relevant esthetic procedures for his patients, using a specialized techinique, called Subliminal Difference, to ensure that patients feel beautiful in and out of photographs without telltale signs of esthetic work.
Skin Inc. sat down with Steven Dayan for an exclusive interview on his medical spa, practice and his take on the future of medical esthetics.
SI: How has the [esthetic medicine] industry evolved since you entered it?
SD: The awareness has grown significantly—there are more and more people getting into it. The patients’ demands are going up; there's definitely a desire for less invasive treatments, no downtime, no pain. People want instant results more so than they did in the past.
You also see a slew of those who have ulterior motives, who may be doing this for reasons other than the patient's or consumer's best interest—and that's always concerning. In all fields, you have people who have various degrees of motivation for why they do things. It [the industry] has maybe strayed a bit from where it was fundamentally from when I started 17 years ago.
The patients’ demands are going up; there's definitely a desire for less invasive treatments, no downtime, no pain. People want instant results more so than they did in the past.
The internet has completely changed the whole world and esthetic medicine along with it. You can watch surgery on your iPhone today; it's really kind of incredible. On reality TV you can watch plastic surgery, so consumers are certainly more educated, but sometimes they're erroneously educated. Instant pictures have changed what we think we look like. The way you look at an iPhone is pretty different from how you look in the standard photos we take, which is different from how you look in a mirror.
People come in demanding or wanting to look like they do in a picture on their phone, yet that's a distorted picture of them. It's creating a moving target of what's reality. We don't really ever see ourselves in three dimensions; we only ever see ourselves in two dimensions. … It's getting harder for doctors to figure out what we can do to make patients satisfied. What's our goal—to make them look better on an iPhone, make them look better in a mirror or a standardized photo that we use in plastic surgery? It's very interesting times; it's very fluid, changing rapidly and evolving quickly.
People come in demanding or wanting to look like they do in a picture on their phone, yet that's a distorted picture of them. It's creating a moving target of what's reality.
SI: How does the True Skin Care Center play into your main practice as a cosmetic surgeon? Do they overlap, and how does the Center affect the patient?
SD: Yes. It's a wonderful adjunct to my practice—it keeps the patients happy and allows them to have another connection to the office. I'm awfully busy, and sometimes it's hard to get in to see me, or they don't get as much time with me as they like, or I don't get as much time with the patients as I like. But by having the extended providers within True Skin Care, patients get to spend time over there getting facials and manual lymphatic drainage and ultrasounds, and all kinds of wonderful medically guided treatments.
Patients get better results; it keeps them more engaged in their skin care needs. We're able to constantly reach out to them and keep them engaged with the practice as well so that it ultimately keeps them motivated.
SI: Would you say that your work has grown because of the True Skin Care Center?
SD: My work has definitely grown from it. And I’ve felt good and proud that I've trained many estheticians now across the country that have had the opportunity to spend time with us.
SI: Why should cosmetic surgeons implement medical spa treatments in their practice?
SD: It's for the benefit of the patient—they get better care. They have another set of eyes looking at the patient. For post-surgical treatments, whether it's Botox or fillers, laser treatments or face-lifts, if they get to see the esthetician after I think they can enhance the results.
SI: How big of a role do you play in the medical spa?
SD: Very big. Most of the patients have seen me or are scheduled to see me. Some of them do come in separately just for esthetic services, but they're under my medical supervision, so we have a mechanism in place to make sure that they're all receiving medically guided treatments.
SI: What are some treatments that work well within a practice? [That work] badly?
SD: There are lots of treatments that work well, and there are always more treatments that come along. But there are aggressive or more potent facials that we're able to do under my supervision, as well as some advanced treatments such as PRP (platelet rich plasma) that estheticians are getting to use because they work within a medical environment.
[Medical esthetics] is constantly, like all fields, in advancement and evolution.
SI: What do you see for the future in medical esthetics? What role do you hope to play in that future?
SD: I see it as a field that continues to grow, professionalize and have increased responsibilities and interactions within a medical practice. The field is constantly, like all fields, in advancement and evolution, and the more that the field can collaborate and work with medical providers I think the better it is for esthetics. I hope to continue to be on the forefront of leaders and combining esthetics and medical teaching.
SI: Can you speak a little bit about [your Subliminal Difference techniques at SDMD]? How long has it been part of your practice?
SD: Subliminal Difference is basically a promise—our brand … I call it Subliminal Difference because there are many things that go into it. Sometimes it’s Botox, sometimes a filler, sometimes a laser procedure. But I combine them in such a way that makes people look better, they feel better, and no one knows what they had done. I can prove it and I can back it with years of studies; we've published numerous papers in medical journals.
I'm trying to steer away from [a patient] coming in and saying, “I want Botox right here to get rid of these wrinkles,” or “I want fillers to make my lips better.” Sometimes when you do one thing alone like that, it doesn't give the result you're looking for. Yet when you put things into combination and do them just right, you can look better, feel better and no one knows what you've had done. It’s something that's unique to our practice. I've trained people who work with me on these concepts, and it's something you can get here that you most likely can't get anywhere else.