“Aesthetic Medicine Today” with Dr Stephen Lowe

Trish

Hello listeners it’s Trish here again from the Transforming Bodies podcast and in today’s episode I am here with Dr Stephen Lowe at the Muse Clinic in Chatswood Sydney and Dr Lowe is the Medical Director here, he’s a Cosmetic Physician and today, we’re gonna find out all about what the wonderful things are that happen here. So welcome Dr Lowe.

Dr Lowe

Thank you very much. Welcome to my clinic.

Trish

Thank you so much. I’m actually overly impressed because I hadn’t been here before and I looked online, but when you get here, it’s next level again as well.

Dr Lowe

I’m really happy with this space. Like, it’s taken us time just to just to kind of find the look that we wanted and I think that look has to reflect everything that I think is important about a cosmetic clinic needs to be clean and tidy and professional, but I wanted also to be kind of welcoming. I wanted to feel like you were in your living room and that you were comfortable and it didn’t feel threatening that’s really important to me that people feel comfortable in this space.

Trish

Yeah. Totally and just like on that as well, I was gonna ask you, so we’re gonna talk about health care and aesthetics, world and stuff like that but how did you get because obviously, you studied to be a Doctor, but what made you go into the aesthetic medicine space? Like, was there a defining moment?

 

Dr Lowe

Yes, a good question. Patients always ask me why or how I ended up being here. It was certainly not my original intention when I went to medical school. I actually wanted to be a pathologist with my original motivation I wanted to do forensic pathology and then as I was going through medical school, I say I drifted over and I was more interested in psychiatry. I really liked people and I liked kind of understanding the complexities of people and then so most of my undergraduate work, my dissertations, and my electives were all psychiatry-focused, and then I did some psychiatry for a while, like after I graduated and I worked in hospital and then I did some psychiatry and it wasn’t the right thing for me. I wasn’t, it didn’t quite stimulate me as much as the theory of it. I think the theory of it is fascinating so I then I don’t really know if I wanted to do it, but I knew that I wanted to work with people, and so I don’t want to be a surgeon. I wanted to kind of have that day-to-day interaction with people so I decided to be a GP. I wanted to really be a generalist and to have that kind of general skill set and knowledge so I did a GP training program. This was all back in the UK, and I did some psychiatry and pediatrics and Obs and Gynea and some community medicine like I did lots of things and then I went and worked on a ship for a year. I just decided I needed to be somewhere else and to do something completely different. So I went to work on a cruise ship as a doctor, which was an amazing year and I met great people and I was surrounded by different people and I kind of opened my eyes a little bit to the world and then I can just show and suddenly realised how hard the climate was for a pasty white Scottish doctor and the sun was so intense and like me, many people living in a story, you had different backgrounds and it’d come from different places in the world and beautiful, different heritage and the sun was really quite a damage and hear maybe compared to what their genetically their bodies were prepared for and that’s probably where my interest in cosmetics came from. It was more that I would see these people who were similar to me and I would just be shocked at how damaging the sun and this environment had been and I think there were opportunities to then look at how we could really have intervened in earlier stages to affect the long term impact of photo age and photodamage so I did about public health for a while. I got I did another degree in public health, and I was looking at really how, what we could do at different stages to really impact long-term agents and that’s kind of where my interest in cosmetics came from.

Trish

I totally get that because it is like, we do like, the sun is so damaging for our skin. I’ve got a girlfriend who’s also Scottish and she’s as white as anything and she’s just so, like, some cautious because it’s true if you burn, you’re gonna burn big time.

Dr Lowe 

I can hang out some wash on the washing line we burnt in a couple of minutes so, yeah, I’m very cautious about the sun but I think that sun message is interesting in Australia. I think it’s kind of there’s been waves of public messaging about being sun safe and then I think that’s died off a little bit and has come back and so I think we still meet a lot of people who are not that vigilant in the sun. It’s always surprising.

 

Trish

Totally. So come back the slip stop slap. That’s what we need again and it’s good because at school these days, no hat, no play, and it wasn’t like that when I was at school. You just, like, let yourself burn, in fact, we put baby all on to trying to make ourselves burn a bit better.

Dr Lowe 

It’s so more recently, we particularly with our lasers. We’ve become much, much stricter people having to adhere to really sensible sun protection methods because we know that it compromises their results and the result that we can deliver and therefore how satisfied we are with our processes so we’ve become increasingly strict more and more strict of what we will let people do, but if they haven’t lasers. 

Trish

For sure. And tell me so like, the aesthetics industry, like, I don’t know how long you’ve been in the industry. Like, it says about twenty years, but you honestly look like you’re about twenty years old but anyway, who won’t have been going there? But I was gonna ask you, so the industry has changed so much in, like, even just in the ten or so years that I’ve been involved in the industry but can you give us a little bit about the current state of the aesthetics and healthcare industry in Australia or in Sydney in particular? Like like are there any latest trends coming out I know that you’ve got your finger on the pulse with stuff and you just came back from a big conference in Taiwan where to learned more about the aesthetics industry but can you give us a little bit about the trends in skin care and wellness that kind of seem to be seeping through at the moment?

Dr Lowe 

Yes. So just to put it into context I went to medical school in 1997 so I’ve been a so then by the time I graduated, so I’ve been a graduate doctor for over 20 years of doctor’s medicine and I’ve done cosmetic medicine for about 10 years. The first 10 years were really general practice and hospital work. In terms of what’s changed, I think there’s definitely a move which is great because it completely aligns with what we’ve been looking at over the last 10 years of trying to stimulate healthy skin and I think the focus for so long was on freezing and filling and just quick-fix repairs, seeing lines chasing them, freezing them with anti-wrinkles, seeing a little bit of sagging or some volume loss and inflating it with filler but I think things are changing. I think there’s more of an appetite for investing in longer-term, healthy, biologically better tissue and that’s really what the focus of that meeting in Taiwan was we were looking at one of the collagen-stimulating fillers that’s available in Australia and really looking at how we could be reframed to really be more of a regenerative treatment, how we can by looking at some of the signs that supports it, that really it’s not just stimulating more of one thing. It’s not just making more collagen it’s making more collagen, but it’s making more elastin other proteins that we need in the skin. It’s making more proteoglycans, these kinds of structures within the skin that can function better and actually, by using these products, we can trigger biologically healthier, better tissue and I think cosmetics will shift more to that in the future. I think it’s starting now, but I think in the future, our focus will be much more on how we replicate the healthy tissue that we used to have rather than just fill it up and expand it and stretch it and I think it is changing. I think people are becoming more focused on the health of their skin. It’s not just the appearance anymore.

Trish

I think you’re 100% right. It’s more about – we want to look well, we want to look healthy, we don’t want to look like we’re done, we just want to look naturally healthy in a bit more vibrant and gone as you said, gone are the days of the, you know, the frozen and the fillers so now we wanna look like we’ve not had anything done. We’re just like drinking lots of water and keeping our skin protected with sunblock and we just want to look healthy.

Dr Lowe 

Yeah. I think, I mean, you see so many celebrities talking about that they’re not doing cosmetic stuff, that they’re just drinking their greens and their olive oil and whatever else and yoga, a lot of yoga but people it’s still high up on the list. People come into the clinic it’s still one of the first things that they say they don’t want to look like they’ve had stuff done. There is still the social stigma of cosmetic treatments, but bad cosmetic treatments I think there are people who want to look at all the things that you said, they want to look healthy, they just want to look refreshed or rejuvenated. They don’t want to look like they’ve had to have cosmetic treatments done. I keep talking to people about the curve of age and that you know that we’re all that all get older, that’s a completely normal biological process but in that curve of where we could be sitting on that curve, you want to be at the back of the curve, not the front of the curve, so that you’re not an old looking 50, you’re a good looking 50 or you’re fresh looking 65 year old, not the oldest version of a 65 year old. It’s just about being on that curve, but that normal curve but just being on the back end of it, not the fourth front of it.

Trish

Yeah. No. I totally get it and it’s definitely more and more of a growth, like, people who wouldn’t have looked at aesthetic treatments years ago are definitely into looking at more of those aesthetic procedures now but I was gonna ask you, the philosophy and the approach that you have at the clinic here, I think I believe from what I’ve seen news clinic is sort of sick. It’s kind of sick. You’ve set it up so that it’s kind of a little bit, that is set apart if I’m making any sense but can you tell us what you believe sets Muse Clinic apart?

Dr Lowe

So, it’s really important that we create a space where people aren’t judged and that they are accepted, however, they walk through the door, that they could be comfortable enough to talk about insecurities they have about their appearance to somebody they may have never met before because I think it’s quite I think it can be quite overwhelming and I think it can be quite a vulnerable position that people put themselves in that they come to these clinics that they might assume that everyone walking around the clinic is gonna be beautiful and enhanced and that they’re not going to connect or feel part of that. It was really important that we made the clinic feel welcoming and nonjudgmental and people come in if they were comfortable to talk about things that they didn’t like about themselves, which I think is deeply personal, that we gave them the physical space, but also our approaches as doctors or nurses or therapists that we have in the clinic that we gave people that space to talk about themselves and to talk about the things that they didn’t love about themselves, which I think are deeply personal but if we can understand that person, then I think we can offer them more. We can truly understand what they’re seeking and we can try and match a treatment program that really addresses what they’re looking for that comes from my days of being a GP and is listening to people and understanding people I’d spent much time doing consultation, theory, and general practice that I find it fascinating about how important it is to understand what brings that person and at that moment in their life to talk about this problem in their life and the more we understand people, the more we can tailor our treatments appropriately so we really get to the hearts of their concerns.

Trish

And I reckon one thing that I bought for myself anyway, like, gone are the days where you just wanna go in and have a quick fix. I think we’re more about wanting the long-term benefit because I know myself. I had my first laser treatment when I was about 44, and I know that like, here I am, like, I don’t know, maybe 25 years later and I think I look better now than I did then because I’m actually just having like, I’ve just I’m having regular treatments of certain things all the time, and my skin looks a whole lot better than it did then and I think that’s what people are doing and aligning themselves with someone that can actually treat all of the concerns, like, over the years so it’s like, we’ve got a GP and now we’ve got an aesthetic practitioner that we go to for our aesthetic benefits.

Dr Lowe

Yeah. I mean, I think it’s about those relationships and it’s about building connections with people and forming those bonds with people over periods of time. I mean, for the reasons I once became a GP I think a GP can be GPs get bashed a little bit in the media and they’re offered an undervalued, I think, but a good GP can make a massive difference in somebody’s life and I think we shouldn’t underestimate the power of cosmetic treatment and the power of a good cosmetic doctor or nurse who can really understand that person and work with them over years to support that side of their life, their appearance, their psyche, their insecurities and I think for so long, we’ve just focused on the kind of trivial aspects of cosmetics and the beautifying bits and the prettiness of it all and those things are bigger and they’re important and they have value and they have a role to play. But I think we’ve really underappreciated the importance of really tapping into how people feel and how we can make them feel better and who doesn’t want to feel better? I mean, such a fundamental thing in life that we want to feel good. We navigate our way around our world but it’s it’s kind of basic. We want to feel good about ourselves and we shouldn’t be shamed into feeling good about ourselves. And I think for, again, for so long, there’s been this stigma about the kind of how trivial and superficial these treatments are, but I think that’s really ignored the fact that people feel better when they look better and they feel this inner confidence that then has this knock-on effect in other aspects of their life.

 

Trish

So true because I know for a fact that when you believe that you look, when you’re happy with the way that you look, I mean, you can be like a powerhouse like, totally confident and go out there and take on the world. Well, that’s how I feel anyway, so I totally get that I was gonna ask you, what are some of the services that you offer here at the clinic? I’m gonna ask you about them, but I was looking at what’s in your video as I was in the waiting room. One of the points that you came up with was one of the treatments that you offer here is the Broadband light and there’s some research or actually on your video talking about the research of actually people that have done it over years how it kind of changes the I don’t know if it’s the DNA or the structure. Can you tell us a little bit about that because that just blows me away?

Dr Lowe

Yeah. This is fascinating and I think this is not so widely understood or this is fascinating. I mean, this is not kind of widely understood or widely appreciated by the public, is that we have technologies at our fingertips that we can use now that will give you better skin in a year, in 5 years, in 10 years, not just from the improvement in the appearance of the skin, but we can actually improve the genetic functioning of our skin with the use of selected light technology so BBL, as far as I’m aware, is the only laser that’s ever proven to benefit the genetic structures of our skin over time and maybe other light devices do it, but I don’t think has ever been researched and proven, so we know that BBL has this evidence to back it up and actually what important, we need cosmetic medicine is no different to other branch of medicine. We need to have solid science and data to support what we’re saying. Otherwise, we’re not really being true to ourselves as doctors. We’ve got an obligation to provide evidence-based effective safe treatments to our patients but BBL is great, like you treat these people with these selected light technologies. We know that as we age some genes in our skin, are turned off and downregulated and that means that those repair abilities within the skin, the ability of the skin to regenerate itself make new collagen, make quality collagen, which I think is an important distinction. We know that those genes are downregulated and turned off as we age primarily from the sun, primarily from environmental factors that influence our skin ages but we know that BBL turns them back on again and the genetic pattern in skin that’s been treated by BBL is much more similar to younger performing skin so we have this ability, this ties back into what I was saying earlier about the conference in Taiwan about been able to regenerate healthier tissue and that’s really I think something that’s not well appreciated that we have this available to us now. We can treat people with BBL 2-3 times a year. We can make your skin biologically, and genetically healthier in the years to come.

Trish

It’s some mind-blowing and at the last conference that I was at, one of the doctors there is actually doing, she constantly is doing or she’s doing research studies at the moment to actually on all that and it just blew me away to think that you can actually have a Broadband light treatment that over time can actually make your skin better.

 

Dr Lowe

Yeah. I mean, it’s such a simple treatment as well. 2-3 times a year. It’s a half-hour treatment. It’s comfortable. It doesn’t have much downtime. You walk in and walk out looking just as good as you did and yet we know that we’re planting seeds for improving skin quality in the months and years to come and who wouldn’t want by the time to get to 50 if they’re 40 or 60 if they’re 50 to have better biological skin in ten years time. There’s no excuse for not, if we’re invested in looking after ourselves and we want to present ourselves well, then this is fundamental everybody should have Broadband light because if you’re in it for the long haul, as you said, about these long-term patient journeys, if we’re in it, to look her best in the years to come, everybody should be having Broadband light.

Trish 

I agree, especially in Australia.

Dr Lowe

Yeah. I mean, there’s so much to the first point we made about the photodamage, there’s so much photodamage. But it becomes kind of normalised because people expect it and because it’s a sunny country, of course, and we can think of our uncles or parents who have had some damaged skin. You just expect it to be normalised, but it doesn’t have to be we don’t have to have that skin pattern. We can we’re all living older now than generations before we’re gonna be around for a while hopefully so if we and it’s not just about aesthetics it’s about making your skin healthier in the long term so that we have healthy functioning skin. It’s not just about the appearance.

Trish 

Yeah and I mean, I see people around where I live because I live on the North Coast, and of course, it’s all about the beach and what not and I just see people all the time that are, like, my age younger and a lot older as well. They’re always just having chunks taken out of their face and I just think if we can put if you can do preventative stuff today, to protect you in 20 years time why wouldn’t you just stop all those just getting, like, my mother-in-law recently had virtually half of her nose chopped off because of sun problems so why wouldn’t you fix that before, like, let’s do preventative stuff to stop that from happening?

Dr Lowe 

I think you don’t realise until you’ve seen friends or family or relatives or, I guess, as a GP where I’ve seen all these people with skin cancers and lesions being removed, it’s hugely disfiguring and apart from everything, the downtime and the downsides that come with having surgeries on your face. I mean, aesthetically, it’s hugely disfiguring to have these scars and to have flaps and cuts and stitches, and as you said, by doing more at this earlier stage by looking after her skin, by preventing as much exposure I mean, you can’t avoid the sun, it’s a sunny country, but we can take steps to minimise the impact of the damaging impact of the sun but simple treatments like a BBL 2-3 times a year will keep your skin healthier.

Trish 

And to be so what other because I know you do BBL here but first of all, how do you decide what treatments you offer at the clinic? Because there’s so much out there, but how do you decide what’s best in what you want to offer your range of patients?

Dr Lowe 

Yeah. That’s a good question so I look at our patients, I look first at who the patients coming into the clinic are, what they’re looking for, and what things they have wrong that concern them. I then start to look at what technologies or treatments would be able to potentially tackle the things that are no concerns but from there, I go off and do lots of research about stuff that what I like about science so I go off and look at signs of treatments. I look at the publications that have been published in medical journals about them. I look at the quality of the papers that have been published. I don’t just look for a quick Google search and see what crops up and think, okay, this is good. I look at the basic signs of what was been published and the quality of the studies that have been done. I look at the manufacturers and who the companies are and if I think they are companies that have been reliable over the years and that they’re build quality. If it’s a machine, if it’s a laser, or a device, I look at the consistency of what they’ve delivered over the years so I never ever have never bought a machine as soon as it comes out because I kind of just wants to see how it settles down and how there’s any treating problems with it. I want to see what the feedback is from people, both on a commercial level. I want to see if people like the treatment and want to pay for it and have it, but I want to also see what evidence and work publications come out of it and then I just look at the safety profile and make sure that it’s going to offer enough benefit versus risk and I make sure that it’s going to be tolerable to people, that it’s got a side effect profile that’s going to be acceptable, that it’s not going to have done. I don’t mind treatments with downtime, if they work so I look at I just mix all that. I put that in the mix together. I look at safety downtime and tolerance publications and machine quality and technology and what people, primarily, what they’re looking for, and then I distill it down into the best machine and I’ve always had the view that I would buy the best technology that I can afford to buy that’s gonna give the best result with the least downtime and the least side effects and the best long term improvement.

Trish 

And that makes sense because that’s when people are gonna come back. When all of those boxes are ticked, because I’ve seen time and time again where people have had treatments done that they’ve thought was going to be, like there’s RF and there’s RF kind of thing so it just depends on which device you’re getting, who’s doing it, and, like, there’s a whole lot of incidentals, and I’m the complete opposite view. I wanna see the before and after. It’s not gonna go for that whenever it is.

Dr Lowe

It’s interesting like we’ve done some work before looking at different people, different patients and there are people who are just like, I want the latest thing. I want the newest thing that’s come on the market. That’s for me, I want to be ahead of that curve and that’s great but those people have to be satisfied long-term as well and so for me, it comes back to making sure that we can provide reproducible consistent results because as you said, that’s what keeps bringing people back and that’s when people tell their friend or their neighbor or their sister that you should be coming to Muse Clinic because I got what I expected to get and I had minimal problem and I had the result I wanted and is that consistency that people want and people expect. Yes, it’s important that we look at new technologies coming out and it’s important that we kind of you don’t want to be, you don’t want to be behind, you want to be aware of that, but I still take a cautious approach to making sure that it’s the right thing right fit for the clinic. 

Trish

Yep. I think it’s always good for someone in your shoes to definitely be cautious and someone in my shoes I’m just like, it’s gonna be like, yeah, exactly.

Dr Lowe

I guess, as a business owner, you have to kind of make sensible business decisions that are going to work for us as a clinic and a business as well. 

Trish

Yeah. Well, before we, because I good to stay here talking to you all the time but before we close our podcast, is there anything new in the pipeline or anything around the corner coming that you’re really excited about I know that you talk about the Biostimulator and stuff like that so is there anything coming that you think is gonna be really game-changing that we should kind of keep an eye out for as a consumer? Make me look good.

Dr Lowe

Yeah. I think I’ve had this focus for a few years, but I think this will become a bigger thing. I still think about the face I think for so long, we’ve still thought about the face in a flat two-dimensional, one-dimensional kind of structure and I think increasingly we think about the face in a 3D structure but for so long, we’ve just looked at wrinkles on the surface or bits of shadows and sagging but I think if you kind of flip it around and you think about the depths of the face and the connections that run through the face, my feeling is that we need to be treating it multiple layers from the very surface down to the down to the layer of the bone because that agent process is multilayer. There’s stuff happening and having a knock-on effect on the next, but the next, but the next, but if you only focus on the flat surface, you never really change what’s going on underneath so my approach has for years been using the collagen-stimulating fillers, the biostimulant fillers to fertilise, to make sure that we’ve got healthy tissue that has the ability to grow healthier tissue into the future. I’ve always liked, as you’ve mentioned, BBL, whereby to get another laser in the clinic very shortly, which will complement BBL very nicely with other resurfacing lasers so having these different options to be able to provide customised tailored treatments to people and then, of course, using other treatments that work deeper underneath, so we’re really working on those multilayers but it’s all about being able to look at some of these, say to them, okay, this is what we need to be doing now, but this is what we need to be thinking about in 6 months and a year and 5 years and plan that process out for them. The people who look unusual are the ones who are just having kind of piecemeal and it doesn’t tie in. Nobody’s actually pulled it together and said, okay this is the agent process. This is what’s happened to you. This is what’s going to happen to you and therefore, these are the things that we need to be considering and doing over it doesn’t always have to happen tomorrow or next week. This could be over the years but they will get the most normal age-appropriate, healthy results when we plan things out and treat multiple layers and customising things. My face is different from yours. It’s different to our next-door neighbors. We know treatment should be kind of just a single approach. It should be very much. This is you and your situation and your problem and I’m gonna create a plan tailored exactly to what you need and I think personalised medicine is definitely a future direction and I think that will become a bigger direction in aesthetics where we really tailor treatments to the individual rather than just kind of thinking, okay, talks for everyone or filler for everyone.

Trish

Yeah, and another thing I’ve noticed lately is the fact that they’re stacking treatments on top so you can go they’ll just have one treatment, but have two or three things at the same time because it’s kind of like, as I mentioned before, one plus one three kind of thing and it works like that doesn’t it?

Dr Lowe 

It’s that synergistic approach. We know that in some treatments there’s this kind of combination approach, which has a better outcome, as you said, than just doing those treatments by themselves and particularly with laser treatments, we know that if you kind of, again, is bringing it back to the science of it, but thinking about how that laser is working, where it’s working, what depth of the skin is working at, what sales are working at and if we can be smart about it as we should because we’re we should be smart people, then we can make informed choices about combining treatments that have this multi-beneficial effect or the synergistic effect because we’re combining the pros of a few treatments and pulling them together for this much more this greater treatment that will yield much bigger and more impressive results.

Trish

Yeah. Totally. Well, sign me up now. Well, thank you so much for joining me today. I really appreciate it and listen, if you do want to check come Dr Stephen Lowe, he’s got his own Instagram, but also check out Muse Clinic on Instagram and Facebook. Also, check out the website, but it’s drstephenlowe.com Chatswood in Sydney. Thank you so much for joining me today.

Dr Lowe  

Thanks very much for having me. It’s been a pleasure to talk to you.

Trish

Lovely. Bye.

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