There are certain subjects that people like to talk about – need to talk about, in fact – but seem to only do so in a whisper. These topics, it seems, are my specialty! I write openly about things that are hard to say in the hopes of helping others.
While I am usually focused on mental health issues, this site has evolved over the years, and I try to write, as candidly as I possibly can, about all things wellness-related (physical, emotional, spiritual, and beyond).
As we approach the end of this calendar year, I look back at my New Year’s Resolution from last January 1 and what stands out to me the most is my pledge to engage in better self-care; to make that a priority. You know, part of that whole oxygen mask thing.
Just a few weeks after I made that pledge to myself (a promise to take care of myself without the typical mom guilt) I received a message in my inbox about a Valentine’s Day Special for a microdermabrasion treatment.
Now, let me back up for just a second. When I started this blog I was 25-years-old and I am now 32 years and seven months old (but, really, who is counting?!) and in those 7.5 years I have added about 18 different lotions/serums/oils/creams to my evening facial regimen in an effort to combat the 28 different wrinkles that I now have on the northern half of my face. Have I lost you yet? It has become a running joke with my husband and close friends, as just when someone thinks I am ready to retire for the night, there is at least one more anti-aging cream that must go on my orbital bone or else. OR ELSE. But, aside from the lotions and potions, I had not really done anything proactive (or, you know, not in my own bathroom) to help my skin to look and feel better.
Remember those things that many of us think about and would love to discuss but find it difficult? One of those things is plastic surgery. Many people I know have had it (in areas head to toe) and even more people I know want it. After my son was born I was feeling particularly self-conscious about my stretch mark situation. And, at the exact same time, the women around me, who I would see every day at carline or at the grocery store, started to look…more amazing. While I could not put my finger on it, I felt as though these other moms were somehow aging backwards, their faces looking fresher, their heads held higher as they wore more body conscious clothing (because their bodies looked fantastic) and so, one day, I actually stopped one of them and asked.
“Oh. You have to go to Dr. Hoffman!” she said. “He is THE BEST!”
So, at 28-years-old, I did. I went in and met Dr. Ryan Hoffman for a tummy tuck consultation. He was the nicest man, extremely honest, thorough and clearly experienced. But, the thing I appreciated most about him was that he discouraged me from getting a tummy tuck, despite the fact that I did have a lot of things that could have been fixed (stretch marks, extra skin, an umbilical hernia, as I learned that day). I was right in the thick of my postpartum depression, and he told me to wait on the procedure, to think about it, to gain some weight, get as healthy as I could be, and then come back in to talk.
The plastic surgeon advised me against getting plastic surgery on an area that could really use some TLC. That is how I knew that he was the real deal.
And, that is how my contact information ended up on his office’s email list, which is why I got the email last February about the amazing microdermabrasion special for Valentine’s Day. Dr. Hoffman’s office, Main Line Institute of Plastic Surgery, not only does typical plastic surgery procedures, but also has a team of highly skilled and trained aestheticians, and so, on a whim, and in keeping with my New Year’s promise to myself I called and booked my first ever microdermabrasion appointment. All of the office’s aestheticians, Bridget, Jordanna and Lauren, are finely trained in the field, specializing in everything from anti-aging to acne, pigmentation to peels, facials and lasers and products, oh my! Most importantly, they all take a completely holistic approach to treatment, looking at each patient as a whole person and not just what their skin looks like on the outside.
It only took one microdermabrasion treatment with Bridget and I was hooked. She was so incredibly caring, warm, kind and knowledgeable and customized a treatment for my particular skin (shockingly, just like the rest of me, it’s super sensitive!!); she also insisted that I apply my sunscreen daily and encouraged me to carry an umbrella to protect my skin from the sun for my family’s upcoming trip to Disney World. And I love her for that! Since February, I have been visiting the Main Line Institute of Plastic Surgery for skin treatments every 3-6 weeks and I love every minute of my time there.
During one of my treatments last Spring I asked if I could see Dr. Hoffman, again, as it had been 3 years since our first meeting. I thought that, perhaps, my umbilical hernia had gotten worse and I wanted to make sure that I did not need surgery. Once again, he gave me a thoughtful examination and, once again, encouraged me to wait before getting a tummy tuck. “Everything looks the same and you have nothing to worry about,” he explained to me. When I am in a more stable physical place then I can revisit this. Or not. No pressure.
When Summer turned to Fall I heard about a skin treatment being offered at Main Line Institute of Plastic Surgery called the ClearLift. Since I am generally fond of both of those words, I asked Jordy, aesthetician-turned-friend, about this laser that was being called a “breakthrough”. She could not rave enough about ClearLift, as it is an “alternative to skin resurfacing” but without pain or downtime. (Read: NOT what Ramona had done to her face before their latest trip to Mexico on RHONYC.)
Because I had seen the aforementioned “peeling pizza” on Ramona’s face, I asked more questions about ClearLift, and learned what makes it so special (and why it is on the short list of treatments that some people now refer to as a “lunchtime facelift”). The reason why Ramona’s face was “like pizza pie with no cheese” (and thank you Ms. Morgan for that one) is because Ramona had a traditional and more “intense” or “invasive” laser resurfacing treatment done. In her case, some flashy thing happens that includes strong pulses of light and a decent amount of pain and her skin peeled away, layer by layer. And that is all well and good, unless you prefer things like not having pain and avoiding weeks of peeling skin. Those types of treatments work and are pretty amazing, but were not was I was looking for at this time.
ClearLift is different because it is a non-ablative laser, meaning that it penetrates the skin under the epidermis (the part that we see) and instead, heals and repairs the skin underneath without redness, irritation or food analogies. From what the aestheticians at Dr. Hoffman’s office have told me, ClearLift not only plumps the face (making skin appear tighter and less line-y) but it helps other things, like injectable treatments and surgeries, last longer. It also takes only 20 minutes, during which time Jordy and I would talk about everything from our kids to the best probiotics to get at Whole Foods (she swears by the ones in the refrigerated section) to life stuff.
I also look super glam while she does it.
But, forreal, does SHE not look like a movie star!?!?!?
So, I have now explained how I came to find, and then love and now frequent Dr. Hoffman’s office, but, as they say, the proof is in the…well…you know what I mean.
Here are some photos that show you how my skin has transformed since my first ClearLift Treatment at the beginning of October (Just 6 weeks ago).
(In the photo below I was super happy! It was the night of our gig opening for Dar Williams! But, my skin was dull. And had visible lines. My inner glow wasn’t quite peeking through)
(and since I began my ClearLift treatments):
Note: I am purposely publishing this post with unfiltered photos. So you are seeing my skin in its most true and honest state (like the way you typically see my soul).
(After my first treatment, feeling so light! From October 4)
(This photo is from this past Monday, but is the harshest of all; it was taken first thing in the morning, with no makeup, in the cold, stark, natural light)
Are you seeing the pattern? Can you tell the difference?
Here is another side-by-side where you can see that, just with the ClearLift and my regular microderms, my skin is now more even, healthy-looking and, dare I say, glowy!
Left is from July; Right is from Tuesday, after my most recent ClearLift treatment with Jordy.
I love ClearLift for many reasons. I do not wear makeup on my face (I am an eyeliner, mascara, quick blush and Vaseline on the lips girl) and now that my complexion has improved so much I feel much more confident in my skin (no pun intended). I explain this a little more on video here. I love that it is a tangible example of taking time for myself; I am making an effort to be proactive about my skin/appearance while also putting my feet up, leaning back and treating myself to some care. As my mood has lifted, so has my skin. It is the perfect metaphor.
I am so glad that I visited Dr. Hoffman back in 2014, as he and his team have taught me so much (and not just about skin). I feel like I have now made a team of wonderful friends and if the day comes when I do feel like I want to take the plunge, I know that I will be in wonderful hands. And, if Bridget has anything to do with it, they will be slathered in sunscreen.
This holiday season, Dr. Hoffman’s Office is celebrating a grand-reopening event, to showcase their newly renovated offices, by offering you, fabulous Mommy, Ever After readers, some amazing specials that make for the perfect holiday gifts.
If you, too, want to feel lifted, you can book your own ClearLift treatments at a ridiculously special price. Readers will receive ClearLift at $250 per treatment or $700 for a package of 3 (cost is usually $600 per treatment or $1,800 for 3 sessions). If you want to start in the same way I did, you can book a microdermabrasion appointment (that also comes with a free skin consultation) for $50 (cost is usually $125) through the end of the year. Finally, if you want to hang out with me and the fabulous team of Main Line IPS, stop by their big event on December 14, 5-7, for food, fun and free things (Giveaways! Demos! Specials!). That night Dr. Hoffman will be offering 25% off of all injectables (you just have to book and prepay for them at that time).
You know that I am all about keeping it real, and I have to acknowledge that this time of year it can be all too easy to feel low. It is one of those times when you are supposed to feel all cheery and bright, and if you do not, for whatever reason, then it can be really, really hard. So, whatever it is, I implore you to do something to take care of YOU. Perhaps it is taking a chance on something or someone new. Perhaps it is a long drive; going dancing; a fun night out with friends. Perhaps it is taking up a new hobby. Perhaps it is a new beauty treatment. No matter what, use this time of year to soak up all of the light that you can, embrace yourself with the warmth that you give to others and, if you can, get lifted.
This post was written in collaboration with Main Line Institute of Plastic Surgery. As always, all opinions are 100% honest and my own. For more details about Dr. Hoffman’s office, to make an appointment or to RSVP for the reopening party contact:
610-896-6666 or http://www.mainlineips.com/
Featured Image via.