Dr. Katie Beleznay

Vancouver Skin Care Specialist

Dr. Katie Beleznay is a leading medical and cosmetic dermatologist specializing in the latest treatments to repair and rejuvenate the skin

Boardroom Botox: Can Cosmetic Procedures Boost Your Career?

The following Q&A was conducted with The Kit for an article that was published in October 2018.

1. When did you first notice an increase in patients electing to have procedures done because of their careers? Were you surprised at first? And how common is it now?

Looking younger and feeling better about their appearance are common reasons patients give as to why they are choosing to have cosmetic procedures and these directly or indirectly impact both their personal and professional lives. So I don't think having procedures done for career benefits is a wholly new phenomenon but rather it is becoming more top of mind for patients when they discuss their motivations. I don't see that many patients that I would say are doing cosmetic treatments solely for career reasons, but for some it may be the impetus ie. applying for a new job or wanting to look and feel on top of their game. Feeling and looking good can of course impact confidence and studies have shown that both appearance and confidence can impact job opportunity, promotion etc.

2. What are some of the things patients routinely say to you about why they’re having something done/why it’s so important?  Has anyone told you they actually felt pressure or faced comments at work that made them worry about looking older?

I have had patients who have shared personal experiences where they felt that appearing younger provided them an advantage in a business setting. And even if it is simply a matter of feeling more confident, that alone can be a major career benefit. I had one patient where in her company the people all being hired around her were younger and she felt some pressure to fit in.  For others it’s more about maintenance and prevention, so not so much about wanting to look younger, but rather wanting to work on steps to maintain healthy skin. Sometimes there is a driving force like they got their passport photo after 10 years and were surprised at the changes since their last photo or they have an upcoming high school reunion or wedding.

3. What is driving this phenomenon? Are people under more pressure to look younger in general, but especially in the context of work/career?

I think that some people express a desire (or feel pressure) to look younger, but it has also become more acceptable to talk about that and to act on it. Coupled with that is the fact that cosmetic procedures have become more mainstream thanks in large part to the many non-invasive options that require very little down time (away from work) and the open discussion and wealth of information about options on social media. People are constantly seeing before and after photos of people after various treatments and all the information about the different options is quite accessible.  I had one patient say … she invests in nice clothes and purses, she dyes her hair every 6 weeks, and she started to realize that if she’s spending so much on that, she wanted to also invest in her face to make sure she is doing what she can to keep things looking healthy and vibrant. Even though there is often a request to “look younger” I try not to focus on “anti-aging”, but rather review specific personal goals to help people feel great and look and feel rejuvenated whatever their age. 

4. Around what age do people tend to start coming to you with career-related concerns? Does it differ for men and women? What’s the youngest you’ve seen people start worrying about looking older on the job?

It varies quite a bit and really depends on the industry. For example those in the entertainment industry may start earlier. I do have patients in their 20s who see me for small treatments simply to maintain their appearance and slow down signs of aging. In fact, starting small doses of "preventative" botox early can save you from needing more significant treatments down the road.

5. What do women and men typically have done? And how does this tend to evolve over the years (for example, might someone start with Botox in their 40s, then begin adding treatments as they age?)

When people start out they may focus on their skin and developing a personalized skin care plan that is preventative and can help give the skin a little glow. Those with concerns like sun spots or redness may consider a laser or light based treatment to help. Botox and filler have become increasingly popular. They are non-invasive and there is increasing evidence on their ability to not only improve appearance, but also prevent signs of aging over time, and there has been a renewed focus on natural looking outcomes.

In terms of what options are best at which age, it has less to do with age and really is patient-specific i.e. some people in their 20s may have deep frown line and conversely someone in their 60s may not and may focus on other things such as skin tightening or body sculpting. Similarly some patients genetically may be prone to a double chin (at any age) and they may consider an injectable like Belkyra to help reduce that.

6. What are some of the most popular options out there now?

The popular options vary depending on individual patient needs. Complexion enhancing treatments are always popular, so for example IPL to help remove brown spots and reduce redness or microneedling that can stimulate collagen production and help smooth out skin and minimize the appearance of pore size and acne scars. Neuromodulators such as botox are extremely popular and can help soften lines and wrinkles in different areas of the face. Fillers can provide a little lift to help with sagging skin and can be done conservatively for a natural looking outcome. CoolSculpting is quite popular as an option to permanently reduce pockets of fat. There are many other treatments available and I like to review the patient’s main goals for treatment.

There are always new treatments in this field.  Belkrya, which we have been using to reduce the fat in the double chin area, is now commonly being used in other areas. One area we are more frequently treating is the jowls to help contour along the jawline. 

We are also more frequently seeing people for treatment of their necks. One common concern is necklace lines, so called “tech neck”. These lines may be increasingly seen from looking down at computers or phone. SkinBoosters or Volite (both a hyaluronic acid solution) can help to soften those lines. Volite is new to the market in North America, but has been available in Europe and popular there. It is an innovative injectable designed to improve skin quality and help with hydration and elasticity and is commonly used on the face and décolletage. 

If you’re interested to learn more about cosmetic treatments, contact us to book a consultation.

The Truth About CoolSculpting

This post originally appeared on the Carruthers & Humphrey blog.

Since its initial FDA approval in 2010, CoolSculpting has become an extremely popular procedure for patients looking to reduce or eliminate stubborn pockets of fat. However, although many people are now aware of it, we still hear tons of questions and misconceptions about the treatment. We asked Dr. Beleznay to share what everyone needs to know about “fat freezing”.

Q. CoolSculpting is supposed to freeze away fat, but how does it really work?
A. The scientific principle behind CoolSculpting is called cryolipolysis. Fat cells are frozen during the procedure, so that they will gradually die off and leave the body through a natural process. The elimination of these fat cells is permanent, but others still exist, so it’s important to maintain healthy diet and exercise routine in order to maximize the benefits. CoolSculpting isn’t designed to treat obesity, but it is effective at reducing fat in targeted areas.

Q. Is belly fat the only appropriate target for CoolSculpting?
A. No, CoolSculpting is actually FDA approved for treating fat in the abdomen, thigh, back, bra area and upper arm, as well as the double chin. You can use it almost anywhere on your body where there is pinchable fat. If you are someone with areas of stubborn fat that you can’t seem to reduce through diet and exercise, then you may be a good candidate!

Q. How can patients know what areas are best to treat?
A. Our team will assess you and make a comprehensive, personalized treatment plan. We like to think of body sculpting as involving more than just a single area. Sometimes the best results come from treating surrounding areas at the same time, and we have two machines, so we’re able to treat more than one location simultaneously. We’ll work with you to make sure we’re addressing your long-term treatment goals.

Q. Is the treatment painful?
A. In the first few minutes of the treatment you’ll feel a cold sensation and same pulling, but the area goes numb pretty quickly and patients can relax and watch Netflix or read a book while they are getting their treatment done. Some patients do describe mild discomfort throughout the procedure — typically pulling, pinching and cramping at the treatment site. Afterwards, side effects include temporary redness, swelling, bruising, tenderness, aching or skin sensitivity, but generally only for a few days.

Q. Can patients return to their normal activities after the treatment?
A. Yes you can! Most people go right back to their regular routine.

Q. How quickly will results be visible?
A. You may notice changes within the first month but the most dramatic changes generally take two to three months — it takes the body time to eliminate the dead fat cells. Many patients require more than one treatment for optimal results.

Q. What happens if patients gain weight after CoolSculpting?
A. Not all of the fat is removed in the treated area after CoolSculpting, so if you gain weight the remaining fat cells can get larger. Because you’ve lost more fat cells in that area, you may not notice the weight gain as much as you otherwise would. Many people, after seeing the improvement from CoolSculpting, feel extra motivated to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Q. Is CoolSculpting mainly for women?
A. Anyone who wants to eliminate fat in targeted areas is a good candidate for CoolSculpting. We do see a good proportion of men for this procedure as well — stubborn areas of fat aren’t gender-specific.

If you’re interested in a CoolSculpting consultation, or want to learn more about our other treatments, book a visit today.

Summer Sunscreen Tips

When it comes to sunscreen the most important thing is that you use it! However, even when people are diligent about wearing sunscreen they may still be putting their skin at risk. I wanted to address a few things that everyone needs to know to ensure maximum protection for your skin.

The most common mistake people make when using sunscreen is not using enough and not applying it frequently enough. Sunscreen should form a film on the skin when initially applied. A good rule of thumb is to use 1 oz of sunscreen to cover your body (though obviously this needs to be adjusted based on your body type). Sunscreen should be applied at least 20 minutes before going out in the sun and reapplied every two hours, no matter what SPF.

Sunscreens should be a minimum of 30 SPF but I always suggest the higher (SPF) the better. In the morning we recommend that sunscreen go on after moisturizers or other creams, but before makeup. Always reapply sunscreen after swimming or sweating and apply it on dry skin. 

We recommend using sunscreen daily all year round as the sun’s rays reflect off surfaces such as snow, sand and even concrete, so be sure to protect your skin. In addition to sunscreen it is recommended to wear photo-protective clothing and always wear a hat when spending any extended time in the sun. Beyond the risk of skin cancer, the sun can also lead to signs of premature aging like wrinkles and brown spots. If your skin is already sun damaged it is important to do regular skin checks.

The weather is heating up and I know everyone is excited to get out in the sun. If you follow the advice above your skin (and your dermatologist) will thank you!

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

For the month of May the goal is to increase awareness around skin cancer.  Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, but also one of the most preventable forms of cancer. So by raising awareness of the dangers of unprotected sun exposure and encouraging sun-safe habits, the goal is to help prevent skin cancer in the first place and also review how to screen your skin and find any worrisome spots early.

I had an opportunity to share some thoughts on the topic with CBC News in Vancouver:

Below is more detailed information on types of skin cancer, how to detect it, and how to prevent it.

 What is skin cancer?

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form and accounts for 90% of all skin cancers. It is caused by long-term exposure to sunlight. It is the most easily treated.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common type. It is easily treated when found early, but in a small percentage of cases, this cancer spreads to other parts of the body.

Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer and is responsible for the most deaths. However, it can be cured if it is diagnosed and removed early. Melanoma can develop from a pre-existing mole that appeared normal but changes, or as an irregular appearing new spot. Over 7,000 people were diagnosed in Canada with Melanoma in 2017. Melanoma causes more than 1200 deaths in Canada every year. Melanoma is also one of the most common and deadly types of cancer in young adults 15 to 30 years old. Early diagnosis is the key to positive outcomes. 

How common is skin cancer?

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. Over 80,000 cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in Canada each year, It is also one of the most preventable because the most common contributor to skin cancer is overexposure to ultraviolet radiation such as from sun and artificial tanning beds. The rates have been steadily increasing over the previous years. In fact Canadians born in the 1990s have 2-3x higher lifetime risk of getting skin cancer (1 in 6) than those born in the 1960s which is about 1 in 20. Today approximately 1 in 5 people will develop skin cancer.

What does melanoma look like?

Melanoma can start as a new, brown or black spot on the skin's surface. It can also begin as a change in the shape or colour of an existing mole or coloured spot. Melanomas tend to be dark in colour — browns and blacks — although some are a mixture of colours including red, blue and white. They will typically grow and change, so the key is to look for change

What causes melanoma?

There are various factors that contribute to the development of melanoma, but excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation, so sunlight and tanning beds is the main reason for the development of this type of skin cancer. Severe, blistering sunburns especially in childhood are thought to play an initiating role. However, sunburns at any time during life can also increase the risk. Indoor tanning is also a known risk of melanoma.

Who is at highest risk?

Fair skinned people (so those with freckles, blond, red hair, blue eyes) with skin that burns rather than tans are more likely to get this disease. Those with many moles (more than 50), or moles with an unusual colour or shape, or with large moles, have an increased risk. A close family history of melanoma is another risk factor. However, people with no risk factors at all may still get melanoma.

Where does it often appear?

Melanoma appears most commonly on the backs of men and legs of women. However, it can appear anywhere on the skin surface or in the mouth or eyes or palms and soles.

How do you prevent skin cancer?

Avoid the sun from 10 am to 4 pm (or during the most intense times of sun exposure) and protect yourself if you are outside during these times by seeking shade, covering up with clothing and wearing a wide brimmed hats.  Also don’t forget to use a protective lip balm with SPF.

Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30. Apply before you leave the house and reapply every two hours or more frequently during strenuous exercise or after swimming.

You can also look for the Canadian Dermatology Association logo on sunscreen products to ensure the product you are using is safe and effective.

Avoiding the use of indoor tanning beds will also reduce your risk of melanoma

Regular skin checks are important.  Have someone help check areas like your back and scalp.  Skin cancer can show up on parts of your bodies that are not always exposed to the sun, so even be sure to check the bottoms of your feet. Examining your skin on a regular basis can lead to early detection, treatment and in most cases, positive outcomes. 

Why should people check their own skin?

People are very successful at detecting melanoma on their own skin or that of a family member. Research shows that >half of melanomas are discovered by the patients themselves and a further 17% by their family members.

Checking your skin and detecting melanoma early can lead to a 90% cure rate. Melanoma has one of the highest cure rates if found early.

A skin self-exam is simple and takes only 10 or 15 minutes once per month.

Recent research shows those at risk for melanoma who had a friend or family member help with checking the skin found the disease at a much earlier stage and had a 63% lower death rate compared to those who did not check their skin.
 

What do you look for when examining your skin for melanoma? A-B-C-D-E

Asymmetry:

The first way to check a mole is by its shape. If you were to draw a line down the middle of your mole, and one side looks different than the other, you should ask your doctor to check it as it is asymmetrical

Border:

Another way to detect an abnormal mole is to look at its borders. If the borders of a mole are uneven and not smooth this is more suspicious.

Colour:

Healthy moles tend to be one uniform colour.  Having a mole with a variety of colors is a potential warning signal. A number of different shades of brown, tan or black could appear. A melanoma may also become red, white or blue.

Diameter:

The diameter (or size) of a mole can also signal you to ask your doctor to check it. A general rule is if the mole is larger than a pencil eraser (which is about 6 mm) there is a higher chance it is suspicious.

Evolution:

Evolution means to watch for changes to the mole over time. Moles sometimes change in size, colour, or shape. There may be other symptoms of change like itching, tenderness or bleeding. So if something is evolving or changing, it’s time to get it checked.

“The Ugly Duckling Rule” is another good rule to look for. You are looking for a change in a specific mole, but also how it compares to the moles around it.  Essentially you are looking for ‘outliers’ spots that are bigger, darker or irregular in any way compared to other spots”