Reflecting on 10 Years in Medical Aesthetics

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Ten years passes so quickly. Though, looking back, so much has happened during that time. I have often been asked why I chose to pursue a special interest in medical aesthetics. Well, in truth, I have to admit it was a selfish curiosity that lead me down this path. One morning during the ritual of preparing to go to hospital rounds, I looked in the mirror and was startled by how tired I looked. There were deep furrows developing between my eyebrows. Now that I know the industry lingo, those were “11” lines. I like to think that I earned them from years of intense concentration while studying.  I had reached middle age and it seemed to have happened all of a sudden. It was 2007, just 5 years after the approval of Botox for cosmetic use in the US and Canada. I began noticing media articles about Botox and fillers. Friends were whispering about new options to look more youthful without going under the knife. I was not alone. What was all the buzz about? Perhaps there was an easier solution to appear refreshed. I didn’t mind being middle aged. After all, I was thankful I had the opportunity to reach this life stage happy and healthy. But I didn’t feel that the tired and angry look on the outside matched how I felt inside. I wanted to explore.

I went into physician mode, extensively researching the products available. I scrutinized the medical literature about how they worked, side effects and results.  Like anyone, my primary concern was safety. After all, as a physician, wife, and mother, I was not about to risk my health for the sake of my appearance. Armed with the scientific data, I sought out an accredited training program in Canada and in September 2007 I was off to Toronto to dip my toe into the world of medical aesthetics. I was unsure of where this would lead for me professionally but I wanted to expand my knowledge and try it for myself.

The needle felt like an extension of my hand, just like an artist’s paintbrush.
— Dr. Andrea Hickey

I smiled as the course instructor commented, “you are very comfortable with a needle in your hand”.  The preceding years of experience as an ER and family physician had allowed me to hone my fine manual skills by performing minor surgical procedures. The needle felt like an extension of my hand, just like an artist’s paintbrush. Then, it was my turn to be the recipient. Placing my trust in another injector, with just a few pinpricks it was over.  The result of the filler was instant and remarkable. But with the Botox- I would have to patiently wait to see the effect. Returning to Fredericton, each day I checked my reflection in the mirror as the muscles gradually relaxed on my forehead. It was smooth and I no longer looked angry and stressed. I thought to myself, “Botox is wonderful”. I wanted to share it with others. I wanted to eliminate all the frowns in Fredericton. And that is how my journey began.

At the time, Medi-spas were all the rage in the urban centres. One stop shopping with hair stylists, estheticians, massage therapists, lasers and injections all in one place like a big box beauty store. While this appeals to many, I chose to offer my medical expertise and skill with a different vision. I set out to provide my clients with a premium experience where they received personal service in the safety and security of a confidential medical office. I designed the clinic space to reflect a sophisticated boutique atmosphere and adjoined it to my medical practice to assure my accessibility. Although always staying abreast of the latest technologies in the growing beauty industry, I chose to concentrate on those treatments requiring regulated medical expertise. This became my niche.

As the 10 year mark approaches, I recall that initial course in Toronto.  Cosmetic treatments and outcomes have come so far. Thankfully, the “cookie cutter” or “one treatment fits all” techniques for injectables has evolved to a more individualized approach.  A natural looking result can be achieved. Interest in all cosmetic procedures has grown for both women and men. In the early years, the focus was anti-wrinkle and anti-aging driven by women, like myself, in their 40’s-60’s seeking to slow the hands of time. Uncertainty about product safety and fear of being judged by others as frivolous or vain deterred many from trying aesthetic procedures. With time and many scientific studies, confidence in the safety of Botox and fillers grew. The big shift came with social media. It then became commonplace to “snap and share”. We were seeing more of our own images- and so were others! The demand for aesthetic services has soared with the evolution of technology and changes in societal attitudes. Lead by the millennial generation, it is now more openly discussed and acceptable to consider cosmetic (surgical and non-surgical) treatments to improve one’s appearance.

I have not lost sight of my original goal; I remain determined to erase all the frowns in Fredericton!
— Dr. Andrea Hickey

As a pioneer in medical aesthetics specialty in Fredericton, I have had the pleasure of forming long term relationships with my clients built on honesty and respect. I appreciate their trust and loyalty. To me, it is this personal connection that makes providing a cosmetic service so enjoyable. I am passionate about this dynamic field of medicine and look forward to sharing further advancements. Yet, I have not lost sight of my original goal; I remain determined to erase all the frowns in Fredericton!