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The new and burgeoning field of aesthetic medicine in Guelph

What exactly is aesthetic medicine and how can it help?

The modern practice of medicine has its roots in the ancient world, with Galen of Rome and Hippocrates of Greece often cited as fathers of traditional western medicine. The current practice of medicine has been largely unchanged in form since the Victorian period. While there have been advances such as anaesthetics, pharmaceuticals, imaging technology, genetic medicine, vaccination etc., medicine as a practice and the various specialities within it have been mostly fixed for more than 150 years.

The burgeoning field of aesthetic medicine, however, is a new kid on the block. What is aesthetic medicine? According to the American Academy of Aesthetic Medicine, it “comprises all medical procedures that are aimed at improving the physical appearance and satisfaction of the patient, using non-invasive to minimally invasive cosmetic procedures.”

Aesthetic medicine has been practiced in a recognized way around the world for several decades, but it has really taken off in the past 10 years as new technology and treatments have become available. However, it remains new enough that it hasn’t yet been identified as a speciality or an area of focused practice within medicine in Canada. Consequently, while it has entered the mainstream, it is highly unregulated which poses its own issues and challenges to both patients and practitioners.

Aesthetic medicine is non-surgical. Plastic Surgery has been practiced since the late 18th century and is an entirely different discipline. However, it is common today for plastic surgeons to also offer aesthetic medicine in parallel with their surgical practices. 

Similarly, dermatologists, who practice medicine related to diseases of the skin, also frequently offer aesthetic medicine options for their patients. However, the majority of aesthetic medicine doctors are primary care physicians.

ArtMed is Guelph’s leading medical aesthetics clinic. This multi-award-winning clinic is owned by sisters Dr. Mary Peirson and Jane Watson of Guelph. ArtMed opened in 2014 in a strip mall storefront with a staff of four. It has grown quickly and now operates with a staff of fourteen. Located on Woolwich Street in the former Upsdell’s grocery, the Victorian building has been renovated into a state-of-art medical facility. ArtMed offers Guelph’s widest selection of best-in-class aesthetic services.

ArtmedOctOpenHouse-36Jane Watson and Dr. Mary Peirson

Since aesthetic medicine is aimed at improving the physical appearance and satisfaction of the patient, a holistic approach is often embraced. Physicians interested in holistic care are very well positioned to practice aesthetics since they are concerned with the entire person.

Dr. Peirson, the co-owner of ArtMed is a graduate of the University Toronto School of Medicine with a speciality in Primary Care from McMaster University. She practiced family medicine, addictions medicine and public health medicine for over 30 years before becoming an aesthetics physician.

“I’m primarily interested in the global well-being of my patients. Wellness embodies the physical, mental and emotional health of the individual. The best way to be well is to stay well and by that, I mean practicing diligent preventive care,” she says. “In public health, we’re always striving to prevent illness if we can, and if we can’t, treat and manage it as early as possible to prevent long term consequences for the patient.”

It is this preventive care approach that Dr. Peirson brings to ArtMed and her practice of aesthetic medicine. To that end, ArtMed offers comprehensive consultations for individuals of all ages, skin types and genders to identify opportunities to prevent skin damage, diagnose and treat existing complaints and proactively manage the aging process going forward.

Age-related changes in the body occur through both wear and tear but also secondary to outside factors. Factors which hasten aging include a poor diet, insufficient exercise and exposure to environmental insults. While genetics play a role in the aging process, it is a small factor as compared to exposure to the sun, for example.

“Eighty per cent of visible aging is attributable to the effects of ionizing radiation on human skin. While humans are designed to repair themselves, sun exposure and in particular ultraviolet radiation causes damage at a rate that outpaces our ability to make repairs. It breaks down collagen, fibrin, and elastin in the skin leading to thinning and sagging and increases hyperpigmentation and redness thus altering the complexion. And this occurs all over the body but most particularly to sun-exposed areas like the face, neck, chest, arms and hands,” notes Dr. Peirson.

In the past ten to twenty years there has been an explosion in technological advances related to treating and preventing the signs of aging. Many treatments harness the body’s inherent capacity to heal itself and consequently treatment results are entirely natural. Procedures can also be combined “or stacked” to create a synergism that maximizes treatment results.

Jane Watson, Dr. Peirson’s sister runs the business side of ArtMed. “We’re very proud to have best-in-class laser technology at ArtMed,” she explains. “There are leaders and copiers in any technological innovation, and at ArtMed we ensure our treatment technology is from industry leaders. While the best tech is more expensive to acquire, it also provides superior results for our clients.”

ArtMed’s range of laser and radio frequency (RF) treatment offerings are among the best and broadest in the region. Lasers can be used to treat signs of aging, scars and skin diseases. RF can be used for body contouring and skin tightening.

ArtMed’s holistic approach to aging inspired its newest acquisition, the Emsella. “Emsella is a high-frequency electromagnetic chair designed to treat pelvic floor weakness. It’s the first non-invasive treatment for incontinence,” Dr Peirson says. “At ArtMed, our aim is to support individuals as they age, and help them to take some control of the aging process, in other words - to age on their own terms. Emsella doesn’t improve something you can see, but it certainly improves one’s quality of life which is consistent with our mission.”

ArtMed offers a full slate of injectable treatments as well. Whether it be Botox or dermal fillers, PRP for hair loss, fat-busting injectables or Vitamin B shots, a wide range of options are available to clients. Comprehensive consultations ensure that the appropriate treatment is provided while respecting an individual’s budget.

Pharmaceutical-grade skincare products provide the home-based care needed to support and maintain results obtained through treatments in clinic. “A custom skincare program is critical to optimizing aesthetic results,” notes Dr. Peirson. “Recommending which products are appropriate for a specific individual, when to use them and how to combine them to enhance results is part of the service we provide. For many patients, a customized medical-grade skincare regimen is a real game-changer.”

Finally, it’s worth reiterating that ArtMed is a medical clinic. It is run by medical professionals and as such it adheres to the highest standards of care. “Aesthetic medicine is tricky,” says Dr. Peirson, “there are a lot of ‘clinics’ out there that are not medical, they are personal service establishments. Oversight and expertise in a non-medical setting are not guaranteed and since aesthetic medicine and laser medicine is not regulated, it is up to the patient to do their homework when seeking a care provider.”

ArtMed is GuelphToday’s leading expert in aesthetic medicine. Stay tuned for monthly articles which will address a broad range of aesthetic medicine-related topics.

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