by Emily Jeffery
What do you get when you take three Doctors and a Dentist and put them on a plane to France?
This may sound like the beginning of a bad joke, but it was actually the question that I asked myself when I was invited along to the annual IMCAS (Aesthetic surgery and Cosmetic Dermatology) world congress in Paris last weekend.
I have recently joined the business as SkinViva’s new Marketing Co-Ordinator and previous to this role, the only contact I had with medical professionals was when I was ill enough to need one. So naturally I was curious to find out what doctors are like when they aren’t examining me.
Would they intimidate me with their intelligence? Or lecture me about my health? Would they have complex medical conversations the whole time?
These were just some of the questions running through my mind as I prepared to meet up with doctors Tim, Sharan, Sabba and dentist Zohaib. However, after meeting everyone at the airport, I was relieved to find that my pre conceptions couldn’t be further from the truth. Or at least not at SkinViva.
Within moments I felt at ease laughing and chatting with everyone and I think we all realised pretty quickly that our trip to Paris was going to be a memorable one…
To say our first evening in Paris didn’t quite go to plan is an understatement. After landing, collecting our bags and soaking up the fact that we were in Paris and out of the office for a few days, our thoughts turned to airport transfers. It was at this point it dawned on us that not only had no one arranged a transfer to the hotel, but more urgently, no one knew where the hotel was!
However, help was on hand in the form of Dr Zohaib who quickly became known as “Sat Nav”. After a few minutes searching Google, Zohaib established the location of our hotel and we were back in business.
At least, that’s what we thought.
On our way to the taxi rank, Tim had noticed a sign for the train into Paris and we all came to the conclusion that this surely would be a quicker route to our hotel than waiting in line for a taxi. Proud of our ability to think creatively, we trekked to the platform and boarded the train.
As the train pulled away from the station, I noticed a map on the wall that looked suspiciously similar to the London underground. And it didn’t take long to work out that this was because it was a map of the underground. Three doctors, a dentist and two Marketing Co-ordinators had managed to get themselves stuck on a tube into a city that we didn’t know, in a country where none of us spoke the language. This was starting to sound like a bad joke again.
A ‘quick train ride to the city centre’ soon morphed into our own version of the Incredible Journey, however, with a helping hand from some friendly French men, we were given a general direction to aim for and spent the next 3 hours navigating our way around Paris. After riding around in circles several times and even leaving Dr. Zohaib behind on the train, we eventually found our stop… An hours walk from the hotel. By this point there were no taxis anywhere and we had to come to terms with the fact that we were walking. So, with the help of Zohaib’s Sat Nav, we began our trek.
By the time we dragged our cases into the lobby (2am French time!) I had never been so grateful to be crawling into bed, but after such an eventful first evening, I couldn’t help but wonder what the rest of the trip would bring.
First impressions of the conference…
I must admit, after the previous night’s adventure, prying my aching body out of bed had never seemed less appealing. However, I was excited to see what the conference had to offer. IMCAS is the world’s largest Aesthetic surgery and Cosmetic Dermatology congress. With 6000 attendees, 450 speakers and 200 exhibiting companies, there would be a lot to take in.
After another eventful taxi ride to completely the wrong address (I was beginning to see a pattern forming) we finally found our way to the conference. Based at the famous Palais De Congress, a venue so big that it once hosted Eurovision, I had already prepared myself for the enormity of the building, but what I wasn’t expecting was the sheer number of people there!
What seemed like thousands of people (most of them Doctors) were milling around inside, visiting cosmetic stands and waiting eagerly to hear talks from some of the industry’s most influential speakers. I’m not ashamed to admit that at this point, I felt a little out of my depth. With a background in Account Management and a degree in Journalism, I had never had anything to do with the world of aesthetics and couldn’t believe just how much there was to learn.
Fortunately, neither could my colleague Georgie, who works at SkinViva training. We decided between us fairly quickly that our skills would be best put to use by skipping most of the complex medical talks and focusing our energies on visiting a few of the many cosmetic stands, in the hopes of gathering some new ideas for the clinic…And hopefully a few freebies.
An education in Skincare…
Within a couple of hours, I had discovered more about the cosmetic industry than I had managed to learn in my entire adult life to date. And if what the sales reps were saying was true, I had been seriously neglecting myself. The owner of Dermastir, and his incredibly attractive Italian speaking assistant, told us about the importance of collagen development for your skin health. He was also excited to show us the new ‘oxygen free’ pump mechanism on their skin care range. The benefit of this is that apparently, the product will stay fresher and retain more of its skin rejuvenating properties. Georgie bought half of the range. I said I would have a think about it.
Next we moved on to ZO cosmetics, an American brand that we exclusively supply in our Manchester clinic. The lady at this stall actually tried to ban us from using moisturiser. She explained that ZO cosmetics work by penetrating deep down into the layers of skin and stimulating new skin cell production. Over the course of a few months, they promise to completely change the quality of your skin so that once you’re done, you won’t need moisturiser at all.
After visiting a few more stalls and being scolded for our lack of knowledge about skin care, Georgie and I had begun to get a feel for this years ‘hot topics’ when it comes to your skin. Everyone we spoke to was talking about the importance of stimulating collagen and skin cell production as a part of your everyday routine. They all spoke about using products to regenerate the skin and fight not just fine lines and signs of aging, but also the signs of external stresses, like pollution and lack of sleep.
Whether it was collagen, stem cells, hyaluronic acid or water from the fountain of youth that they were selling, they all had the same end goal. To alter the surface and behaviour of your skin and what they were saying made sense. It’s all well and good pumping your skin with botox and filler to look younger, but if the quality of your skin isn’t good, you are never going to get the result you want. So I resolved then and there to purchase some ZO products and do a complete skin care overhaul the minute I got home.
Loving our Lips…
After a long morning spent being lectured on my poor skin care choices, Georgie and I were exhausted. Fortunately, after meeting up with the doctors for some lunch, Tim invited us along to a talk about lips that he assured us we would understand. As we sat ourselves towards the front of the huge conference room alongside doctors and surgeons from around the world, I began to understand just how important IMCAS is for communicating the latest innovations in cosmetics.
The lip seminar definitely did not disappoint. Speakers took to the stage to share their top tips for creating the perfect pout, with live demonstrations taking place on screen that were certainly not for the faint hearted (if you are ever invited to watch fat being injected into someone’s lip, don’t do it).
One Dr spoke about the science of beauty in a way that reminded me of Dr. Tim’s treatment the ‘Da Vinci Lip’. He explained that there is a perfect ratio that exists in nature that can be mirrored when altering the lip’s proportions with filler. So essentially if your injector is good enough, you can actually achieve scientific perfection. Now if that’s not a selling point I don’t know what is! He then went on to make some questionable links between the size of a woman’s lips and the size of her downstairs lips, indicating that the larger the lips on your face, the more satisfied you are down below… Interesting.
A fab end to the day…
As the first day of the conference drew to a close, I was amazed at how much I had witnessed in such a short space of time; and after enjoying a leisurely dinner and a couple of wines at a nearby Thai restaurant, which we all agreed was probably the nicest curry any of us had ever, we all headed back to the hotel, excited for what the next day would bring.
After a much better night’s sleep this time, we met for a quick early breakfast and headed straight out to day two of the conference. Georgie and I had already discussed which stands we wanted to visit and felt like pros this time. A quick trip to the UV sun damage lamp reminded me once again how dire my skin care routine had been, but I was not perturbed.
Dabbling with the Dermapen…
Next on our list was the Dermapen, a new development in skin resurfacing technology that is a younger and significantly more attractive relative of the Dermaroller. The lady at the stand explained to us that the main issue with the Dermaroller, is that it has to cause trauma to the skin in order to boost production of new cells, however, this can sometimes have a detrimental effect and can actually damage skin further!
By rolling tiny needles over the skins surface, the Dermaroller is intended to shock the skin into boosting its production of skin cells. The result of this is a fuller and more even skin surface. The only problem is with this is that the rolling action means that the needles are not just piercing the skin, but actually gouging little slices into it, a bit like a slice of pizza. The Dermapen works much more like a tattoo gun and allows the pen to glide over the skin, ensuring that the needles are only piercing downwards and are not being dragged sideways. The necessary trauma to the deeper layers of skin is still there, but the top layers of skin are not being damaged to the same extent.
The wonderful world of Threading…
After learning about the many attributes of the Dermapen, Georgie and I decided to try our hand at another seminar and opted for one about fillers and threading this time. Observing the demonstrations on the big screen, I recognised many of the techniques used from times when I have observed the doctors at SkinViva. But what struck me was how rough they seemed to be and how much less attention to detail there was when finishing off the treatment. When I asked Dr. Tim about this, he explained that surgeons are trained to perform their procedures under different conditions than doctors AKA a surgeon’s patient is usually unconscious. Whatever the reason, it made me glad to be working with the amazing doctors at SkinViva.
After the seminar, Georgie and I were curious to learn more about the art of threading. Before the conference if you had asked me what threading was I would have told you that it is a painful procedure inflicted on your eyebrows (often by Chinese women in shopping centres). In the world of IMCAS however, threading means something much more magical. We made our way to the ‘Princess’ stand. Princess is a subsidiary of Croma, an Austrian health care brand, and was one of the busiest stands at the whole conference (although this may have been down to the fact that they were offering free alcohol).
Prosecco in hand, we approached one of the sales reps and asked her to talk us through the concept of ‘threading’. She explained that the treatment allows you to perform nonsurgical lifts using tiny threads that break down naturally in the body. Depending on what area needed lifting, threads can be inserted into the cheek, jawline, eyebrows, forehead and even the chest. The possibilities are seemingly endless! A perfect solution for people who are not ready for the invasiveness of surgery.
As the second day of the conference drew to a close, I was beginning to feel like an expert and had already come up with tonnes of ideas for the SkinViva clinic and I could tell the doctors were just as excited.
Painting the town red white and blue…
Our third evening in Paris was spent much like the second. We all decided that you can never have too much of a good thing and headed to the same Thai restaurant we had eaten in the night before. And, proving once and for all that humans are creatures of habit, we even sat ourselves at the same table in the same seats!
The rest of the evening was spent in true British tourist fashion, by paying a visit to the Eiffel tower for selfies and movingly swiftly on to a local bar for some late night cocktails.
Last tango in Paris:
After slightly overdoing it with the wine and cocktails the night before, I struggled out of bed and packed my case ready to check out and attend the final morning at the conference. It turned out that day three of the conference was a very different affair to the first couple of days. All of the stands had gone and there were only a couple of talks. We unfortunately chose the one about vaginal fillers, which is not a treatment I will be sampling in a hurry.
After listening to the closing speeches in which the doctors reinforced the importance of individuality in beauty (a sentiment that we all fully support at SkinViva), it was time to leave. And so, after a quick wander round Paris’s shopping quarter, the Champs Elysees, and a bite to eat in a traditional French café, we jumped into our final taxi, bound for the airport.
As I prepared to board my flight home I could not believe how much I had achieved with my three short days in Paris. Not just in my new found knowledge of treatments and techniques, but also through the experiences that we had shared as a group. I truly felt like I had begun the trip with colleagues and ended it with friends, which I feel is testament to SkinViva’s family ethos. Eventually my thoughts turned back to my original question. So what do you get when you accompany three doctors and a dentist to France?
Well if my trip to Paris was anything to go by… a lot more than you bargained for!