The small, waterfront city of Benicia, California, located near San Francisco, has been called home by sculptors, painters and many other artists, making it the perfect setting for Piel Medical Aesthetics. With the intention of bringing another form of art—cosmetic art—to the area, the medical spa was founded in 2004 by Rita Wergowske and her husband Gilbert Wergowske, MD. Although the location is medically directed by Dr. Wergowske, a board-certified physician in internal and geriatric medicine, Piel is Rita’s labor of love. As a registered nurse and board-certified wound-specialist, Rita became certified to do injections in 2003, but couldn’t find any office building that would lease space to her. “They were afraid of me,” laughs Rita, amazed at how far medical esthetics has come. “I have a background in neonatal intensive care, so I am a specialist at making tiny injections.” She opened Piel Medical Aesthetics’ doors in 2004 after much research and due diligence.
One of the most important business lessons Rita learned early on was the value of creating her business from scratch. “You can do a lot of the work and research on your own when opening a business, but be sure to have your work double-checked by an attorney,” she emphasizes.
With Dr. Wergowske’s practice five minutes from the medical spa, he works very closely with the facility, reviewing all decisions before they are made. Safety is the No. 1 concern at Piel Medical Aesthetics, according to Rita. “We have comprehensive standards of practice and a complete orientation for the nurses and doctors who we hire. Dr. Wergowske reviews their credentials and does a background check, and we monitor them during a grace period after the hire to see how they are going to work with our clients. You just have to take a close look and see where their skills are.”
Another important focus for Piel is its clients. “We love our clients; they are our family. We work with them, look at where they are and what their financial and esthetic needs are. We also try to factor in what they think they need, and that’s highly important. We may see something that we think needs to be addressed, but that might not be a flaw they care about,” Rita explains. Consumer education is also high on the facility’s list of priorities. “A lot of what we do is education-based; that way, our clients are able to make choices,” she says.
With a large retail sales area, Piel clients are able to explore their choices there as well. Rita’s top retail tip? “What you use in your back bar has to be on your retail shelves. Also, you have to tell your clients that no service is the silver bullet, and they must keep up their skin care regimen at home. That’s the spa professional’s opportunity to sell,” she advises.
Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of Piel Medical Aesthetics is its complementary medicine arm, the Center for Intelligent Health. Although not yet an official entity, both Rita and Dr. Wergowske have studied complementary medicine and believe in its message of beauty from the inside out—so much so that it is the center’s tagline. “We have several programs that can revitalize clients and help them with problems they may be having using healthy vitamins and minerals. We are getting more to the root of hormonal imbalances by examining the body’s meridians,” explains Rita.
Looking to the future, Rita and Dr. Wergowske hope to address their clients’ needs using whole-body solutions. “When we looked at combining health and beauty, we noticed that those who had healthy bodies often had healthy skin. We wanted to make sure they had healthy minds, souls and spirits, as well,” concludes Rita.