Reveal a New You in the New Year

Take advantage of the New Year’s spirit by getting a hard start on your resolutions. Here’s how our region’s leading practices can help to refresh your look.


How’s your New Year’s resolution holding up? You know, the one you made to eat healthy, get in shape and resculpt those bothersome parts of your complexion? This time of year is perfect, for many reasons, to debut a refreshed appearance. Here are a few places to begin.

Moisturizing & Preventative Measures

Your refreshed look begins with simple protections such as moisturizers and sunscreen. Over-the-counter products are a good start, says Chelsy Kimes, PA-C, a physician assistant at Mohs Surgery & Dermatology Center, with locations in Elgin and Crystal Lake.

“Two important things are maintaining the skin the way it is right now and protecting it for the future,” Kimes says. “Look for a daily moisturizer with SPF 30 in it. Get in the habit now, because we do get sun exposure from routine tasks, such as driving and being outside. We see some patients have sun damage worse on their left side, because of their driving.”

Whether you’re looking to remove sun and age spots or to tighten, brighten and reduce fine lines and wrinkles, Kimes is likely to start you in the clinic’s esthetic spa. Medical-grade treatments include microdermabrasion, a technique that leaves the face feeling refreshed and moisturized. Chemical peels have the added ability to remove old acne staining and sun spots.

“Laser is another way, without physically peeling the skin, to get those areas to improve,” says Kimes.

Most commonly, injectables such as neurotoxins and facial fillers such as Juvederm or Restylane help to improve areas around the cheeks, lips, forehead and eyes.

“Fillers work anywhere that women or men feel they have hollowed out and need a little more volume,” says Kimes. “We always say Botox is for the upper third of your face, while fillers are more for plumping the bottom two-thirds. Botox is more for movement, so when you frown or look surprised or smile, it can soften the wrinkles.”

Kimes says these products provide a preventative benefit for younger patients as well.

“If you can never completely frown or completely raise your eyebrows, and do so with a natural appearance, you theoretically never form the wrinkles,” she says.

It’s important to create a natural-looking appearance.

“Our goal is to take you gracefully, subtly back to where you were five years ago,” Kimes says.

She encourages patients to ask about the recovery time and how soon results appear. Also, Kimes suggests asking about side effects, how a treatment can affect current medical conditions and whether treatments are reversible.

Once started, injectables require upkeep. Botox can last four to five months, while fillers can last six months to five years.

Mini Facelifts

If you’ve been considering a tummy tuck or facelift, now may be the best time to get it done.

“This is the time of the year people are thinking of spring vacations, taking cruises and planning for summer – the time to plan for bikinis and swimsuits,” says Dr. Sarah Hagarty, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon for OSF Cosmetic & Reconstructive Plastic Surgery, in Rockford.

In 2014, nearly 16 million cosmetic procedures were performed in the U.S. and nearly 92 percent were performed on women. Among the most common procedures are breast augmentation, body contouring procedures, nasal surgery and eyelid surgery, according to Hagarty.

“The industry has seen many advances in trends and technologies,” she says. “We have more demand for minimally invasive procedures that don’t require a lot of down time. Popular quick fixes for the face can be found with fillers, Botox, peels and other procedures to improve the contour and texture of skin. Also in vogue now is the short scar facelift. A full face lift can mean two or three weeks of bruising, swelling and wearing big sunglasses with a floppy hat. Not anymore.”

An in-office mini facelift or short scar facelift requires no fasting or anesthesia. Mini facelifts can improve the most obvious signs of aging in the cheek, jawline and neck, and are especially popular with patients in their 40s and 50s who don’t have a severe amount of excess skin in those areas.

“It’s a shorter procedure that’s intended for patients who are experiencing early sagging in the lower face,” says Hagarty. “It’s a shorter scar and done in a more targeted area. Improvements from a mini face lift can endure 10 years or more.”

Hagarty recommends patients do their homework before committing to any procedure. For starters, research the doctor’s credentials and talk to physicians and nurses who know the doctor’s reputation. Hagarty recommends using plastic surgeons who are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgeons.

“You can find information on reputable websites, such as The American Society of Plastic Surgery’s that offers educational videos and photos,” she says. “Talk to other people who’ve had similar procedures.”
Hagarty meets with patients to discuss their concerns and goals, and to determine the best options for that individual.

“It’s very important to understand that cosmetic surgery is not one-size-fits-all,” she says. “Everything is tailored individually to that one person’s needs. There are no miracle products out there. Different people have different needs, but there is an optimal approach for each person.”

Exercise Your Best Judgement

Now is the time of year when we return to the gym to get fit, lose weight or both. If you want to be sure you’ll maintain your healthier habits, ease into time on the treadmill or the weight bench.

“We recommend that people start slowly when they’re beginning a new fitness program,” says Lindsay Boeke, a personal trainer and fitness director for Centegra Health Bridge Fitness Center, with locations in Crystal Lake and Huntley. “If you come into the gym on a Monday and do so much that on Tuesday and Wednesday you feel awful, you won’t want to come back. Instead, take your time getting into a routine. For example, start with 30 minutes walking on the treadmill. The most important thing is to develop a habit of going to the gym on a regular basis.”

Boeke recommends 150 minutes of fitness per week, split into three or four visits to the gym.

“Don’t start out by going five days a week if you’re new to working out,” she says. “Make sure to work in a day to rest your muscles.”

Personal trainers like Boeke can help newcomers to start strong. “I encourage people to get a trainer right away,” Boeke says. “This person will provide you information and resources that you can use forever. For example, you may be doing the same exercise for 45 minutes, day after day. A trainer can show you ways to maximize your time at the gym so you can get the results you want.”

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the equipment.

“It can be scary to walk into a new place for the first time,” says Boeke. “You see a treadmill with so many buttons that it looks like a spaceship. It’s easy to be overwhelmed if you’re new to the machines, and it’s important to ask for help. We’ve all been new members at some point and we remember how it feels.”

The bottom line is to have fun with fitness.

“Exercise is fun any time of the year, whether you’re kickboxing, taking a yoga class or just out on a long bike ride,” she says. “Getting up and moving is the best thing you can do for yourself. Don’t overcomplicate things. Work out with a friend. You won’t establish a pattern if you don’t make it fun first.”

Post-Menopausal Touch-Ups

Vaginal atrophy, also known as atrophic vaginitis, is an uncomfortable condition that some women experience before or after menopause. It’s an inflammation of the vagina that results from thinning tissues and decreased lubrication commonly due to a decrease in estrogen. The FDA recently approved a new procedure to tackle this problem.

The MonaLisa Touch, an Italian-built laser device, uses lasers to stimulate collagen. The laser was developed in Florence, Italy, four years ago and was introduced in the U.S. in 2014, according to Dr. Randy Zimmerman, an independent obstetrician/gynecologist in Barrington who offers the procedure at his clinic.

“It’s a game-changer for women who are suffering from post-menopausal vaginal atrophy,” he says. “About 40 percent of women experience symptoms related to thinning and dryness of the vaginal tissues, which makes intercourse difficult, if not impossible. This is a new treatment which has some advantages to what we’ve offered in the past.”

The MonaLisa Touch allows for a functional restoration of the vagina, which helps symptoms related to vaginal atrophy. The laser treatment can eliminate the itching, irritation and pain that occurs during intercourse.

Zimmerman says vaginal atrophy is often caused by hormone changes associated with menopause, but may also occur in women who experience decreased estrogen production due to cancer or breastfeeding.

“We’ve had treatment using estrogen topicals, but those treatments can have some negative effects for patients with a history of blood clots or breast cancer,” he says. “This new laser gave us an option totally different, without using estrogen. This procedure can cause the vaginal tissue to go from being thin and dry to what it was for a woman when she was in her 20s or 30s.”

The procedure involves three sessions, each six weeks apart. Each treatment takes about five minutes in the physician’s office.

Zimmerman started treating patients last fall and has performed the procedure on about 40 patients. He says the MonaLisa Touch works for nearly 98 percent of patients, who experience virtually no side effects.

“It’s an important change in a woman’s life,” says Zimmerman. “For some, sexual intercourse can be painful. With this treatment, they’re much happier.”

Technologies for Sensitive Skin

The winter months are an ideal time to seek cosmetic touch-ups, because many laser treatments can leave skin more sensitive to sunlight, says Dr. Sonya Kenkare, a board-certified dermatologist with Derick Dermatology, with locations in Barrington, Crystal Lake and Elgin.

“Many laser procedures aren’t appropriate to be performed on tanned skin, and they can make you a little more sensitive to sunburning afterward,” says Kenkare.

One of her specialties is laser treatment for people of color.

“That’s one of my interests, being of color, because skin of color responds differently to certain treatments than a lighter skin tone might,” she says. “The reason is that some of our lasers target the difference in pigment between hair and skin, or light-brown spots on your skin. In our practice, we have lasers that are safe for hair removal on skin of color, and this helps to avoid harmful effects.”

Derick’s team of dermatologists provides a variety of medical and cosmetic procedures, some of which involve powerful lasers that remove hairs and minimize the appearance of age spots.

Derick has also introduced new treatments that help to reduce the appearance of a “double-chin.” Kybella, a relatively new, FDA-approved injectable treatment, targets the destruction of fat cells in the neck. The Zeltiq CoolSculpting laser uses a noninvasive procedure that freezes away fat with cold temperatures and the body’s natural response to cold.

Cosmetic treatments should provide an exciting transformation, says Kenkare, because it’s a chance to take a renewed pride in one’s appearance. Patients at Derick Dermatology undergo a thorough 3-D photo session before and after treatment, so they can visualize the transformation.

“I think a lot of times, people can see the change for themselves, but it’s fun for people to go back and scroll through these images at follow-up appointments,” Kenkare says.

When it comes to laser treatments, Kenkare encourages patients to find a board-certified fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology and to thoroughly research a procedure.

“I want my patients to feel comfortable with what we’re doing before we do it,” she says. “And, we offer a cosmetic consultation for our patients, so they can get information and see what it is they’d be interested in.”

Incremental Improvements

The name says it all at Kovak Dermatology & Laser Institute, with locations in Rockford and Oakbrook Terrace: Technology is a driving force behind dermatologic treatments.

Tools like the ThermiSmooth and PicoWay are just the start. Kovak is also among the first in the Rockford area to introduce Kybella and CoolSculpt – new techniques for reducing troublesome bulges.

“We do things a little differently than they do in the average office, because we have the opportunity to do it a little differently,” says Dr. Stanley Kovak, clinic founder.

The difference for Kovak, who’s spent 22 years working with cosmetic lasers, begins with a slow-and-steady approach.

“You don’t become a body builder by lifting weights just one time,” he says. “You have to keep doing it. Same with your skin – it needs stimulus, just like your muscles.”

He points to one patient, a teenager who spent five years visiting five separate clinics for treatment of her acne. Kovak’s gradual treatments have finally cleared up her symptoms. Now, new treatments can help to reduce acne scarring using specially developed fillers.

“The filler is more targeted to break up the scar, because those scars are much tighter,” explains Dr. Mona Gandhi, a board-certified dermatologist who joined the clinic in 2015. “This treatment breaks the acne scars apart and fills in pretty nicely.”

The ThermiSmooth is a relatively new, noninvasive treatment that uses radiofrequency to tighten sagging skin and minimize wrinkles, especially around the face. ThermiSmooth and similar Thermi applications manipulate the elastic fibers in our skin.

“These fibers are like rubber bands, and they keep the skin tight,” says Kovak. “After a while, rubber bands stretch out. How do you get them back to shape? You can’t, but this tool can.”

Kovak has used his knowledge of cosmetic lasers to create a custom photofacial that helps to develop younger-looking skin cells. This custom “Tyte & Bryte” helps to clean up sun damage and minimize wrinkles.

“You begin stimulating your cells with light and they start working better, so they produce better protein and collagen,” says Kovak. “And, before you know it, your skin looks better.”

Not only do Kovak and Gandhi introduce the latest cosmetic treatments, but they are, in some cases, recognized trainers of other physicians. “People feel really comfortable that we know what we’re doing,” says Kovak.

Retreat & Relax

Looking for a way to beat the winter doldrums? A long weekend of pampering might do the trick at The Edgewater, a historic hotel located in downtown Madison, overlooking Lake Mendota and located a few blocks from the University of Wisconsin and the State Capitol.

The Spa offers a number of private and small-group wellness classes, a relaxation pool, fitness center and spa treatments, including a number of skin care, nail care, hair care and massage services for both individuals and couples.

“We cater to individuals, couples and small groups looking to relax and rejuvenate on the water,” says Jessica Arendas, marketing and public relations manager for The Edgewater. “We take a holistic wellness approach to every service that our team provides, all within a peaceful waterfront resort setting.”

In addition to exclusive treatments created by talented therapists, The Edgewater Spa features the Epicuren Discovery skin care line, the only spa in the state that carries this organic, environmentally conscious brand. Another highlight is the wellness studio that features weekly yoga and fitness classes, led by top instructors in the Madison area. The Wellness Center is focused on creating a consortium of wellness experts in their respective fields, all driven toward the same whole-body approach from aromatherapy and breathing to yoga and personal training.

In 2014, the hotel reopened after a multi-year, $100 million renovation and design overhaul of the existing building, the Langdon Building, and construction of a new hotel tower, the Wisconsin Building. The updated Edgewater has more than 200 rooms, two ballrooms, four restaurants, a full-service spa, a one-acre plaza and 8,000 square feet of meeting space.

The Edgewater also features The Plaza, an open public area located between the Wisconsin and Langdon Buildings. The Plaza can host outdoor weddings, live music in the summer months or a fire pit on a chilly fall evening. In the winter, the Plaza is transformed into a 4,000 square-foot ice rink that’s open to the public from November to March.

“The Plaza and Ice Rink were created to activate the lakefront in new and community-focused ways,” says Arendas. “On one side of the rink you can see the lake and on the other, a view of the Capitol. The views are truly breathtaking and the atmosphere is uniquely Madison.”