On The Runway Section
“When health comes first, beauty comes naturally.” This is more than just a slogan for Uptown Dermatology and SkinSpa—those words sum up its very raison d’être. In a way, Uptown Dermatology is a response to that most regrettable trend in cosmetic dermatology: yes, the mall spa.
“Here’s the deal,” Dr. Jaime Davis, Uptown Dermatology’s CEO and Medical Director, explains. “The bottom line with this explosion of mall spas, spas that are not medically driven, what can happen is that people go in for concerns that typically relate to sun damage—spots, freckles, redness, whatever—and they get treated with a laser, and their spots and freckles and stuff get better.”
Beauty may be skin deep, but wellness, it turns out, goes much deeper.
Davis laments, “What is not addressed by mall spas is the fact that maybe those spots and freckles, while being some sun damage, may also be accompanied by precancer or some other actual issues—not just pretty issues, but health issues.”
Uptown Dermatology’s basic approach is what sets it apart from its mall counterparts.
“From my perspective as a doctor, patients come in, and they have spots and freckles, and I immediately check them for precancer, because there’s obviously sun damage,” Davis recounts. “Then, what I do is, I treat them for precancers with whatever modality is appropriate for them, and, by golly, their skin starts looking better, simply because we’ve removed some sun damage. We’ve improved the health of their skin.”
Davis thinks that mall spas are fine for cosmetic procedures, but they leave one stone unturned, which may cover disaster.
“In other places, they fail to address the whole health step of things, because they’re not trained health professionals—they’re laser technicians,” Davis insists. “Maybe they’re gals with a high school education.”
And the consequences of failing to address health issue can be grim indeed.
Davis relates, “I can tell you, it’s happened where someone has come to me from a laser clinic in a mall, and the laser tech couldn’t get rid of a red spot. Why? Because it was a skin cancer, that’s why. My whole slant on that is—there’s a reason we go to dermatology school. It ain’t for fun. It’s not the money, trust me. It’s so that we have some idea of the health of your skin.”
Once wellness issues have been addressed—or once it has been established that no wellness issue is to be addressed—what most people think of as spa procedures can begin.
“If we pronounce you healthy, if we slap your forehead, and say, ‘Beautiful skin,’ then fine,” Davis firmly states. “Then, we’ll laser you, then we’ll Botox you, then we’ll do whatever you need—but not until that’s done.”
Davis takes pride in this form of delayed gratification, but it’s not her only source of pride. She takes pride in being the gay-friendliest of local medical spas.
“People express an actual fear of going to the doctor, because they get the old sideways glance from old-school dermatologists or doctors who don’t get the world these days—it may just be ingrained in their psyche,” Davis observes. “I’m just one of those heathens who doesn’t judge people who might be different than me. If you happen to go to a Catholic dermatologist, he might be the nicest guy in the world, but he’s going to look at you sideways. And heaven forbid you’re trans—that would blow their mind.”
That sensitivity to transgendered folk (if not Catholic dermatologists) is no coincidence—it’s the result of specific training.
“I actually have special training in transgendered dermatology,” Davis confirms. “As you can imagine, skin gets moved from place to place when there might have been a surgery. Now, that skin that was here can still have skin diseases that might now be in a place you don’t expect them.”
And postop transgender clients aren’t the only ones with specific needs.
“If you put a woman on male hormones, she’s going to do a few things,” Davis warns. “She’s probably going to get acne. She’s probably going to experience hair loss in a male pattern. Her skin is going to be very different than it used to be, and if someone doesn’t know what questions to ask, or isn’t comfortable asking the questions, we might miss something.”
Davis believes that healthy skin is a cause, and aesthetic benefit is the effect. And that can manifest in the most personal kind of pride.
“There’s no doubt about the fact that healthy skin is a lot more than how you look,” Davis remarks. “It’s what people see of you. Around here, we say, ‘Pride is being comfortable in your own skin.’”
Uptown Dermatology & SkinSpa
1221 W. Lake St., Ste. 208, Mpls