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Stop Messing With Your Face

Photo: Rankin

With three degrees from Harvard (BA, MD and a PhD in Genetics), a background in molecular biology, and her own lab in which she develops cutting edge skincare products, dermatologist Dr. Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas already stands out. But on top of her impressive resume, the New York-based dermatologist firmly believes that less is more. Arrive at her office with a checklist of procedures you want and she might just say no. Here, Dr. Alexiades-Armenakas explains her position in her own words.

When it comes to messing your face, it’s a slippery slope. If you take one step too many, there’s a point at which you go from looking natural to unnatural and unfortunately, people may not be able to see what’s wrong when they look in the mirror. They may not have the capacity to see that they’ve gone over the deep end; they get used to their new look.

It’s important to work with a doctor who has an artistic eye and really knows what you look like. You don’t want to be that person whose lifelong friends get upset because you no longer have the face they love—that’s a point of no return. I see three aspects to my job: the human part, where I really want to do what’s best for the patient; the doctor part, where I have the intelligence and the technical skill to execute; and the artistic aspect, which cannot be overstated as the most important of the trio.

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I have had patients leave my practice because I’ve said no to performing additional procedures on them. Someone else promises the sun, moon, and stars, and says, ‘I’m going to get results for you and I will blow torch your face and you’ll just have three weeks of redness and weeping.’  I can’t in good conscience do that to somebody who is 39-years-old. It’s not something I feel comfortable with. Saying no is part of doing my job. If I have a client who doesn’t need filler, Botox, or lasers, there is no way I am going to change my viewpoint. Not because of money or if the patient feels that she wants it. My responsibility is to do what is in their best interest.  It is sometimes better to leave things alone. It’s difficult, because so often doctors are trained to do something, to treat, to intervene. But the goal is to make people look good, not wrinkle free. If somebody is wrinkle free but they look bizarre, what good is that? 

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I practice what I preach; I am very minimalistic. I feed the skin what it needs to replenish and rejuvenate itself. If you think about it, what is a laser doing?  It is stimulating stem cells to make collagen and stimulating my own keratinocytes to get rid of brown spots. If I can accomplish that through daily use of a product, as opposed to a laser, then I will do that. I’ve been using my own product 37 Extreme Actives for years. I also do a chemical peel once a quarter. I’ve been getting away with this combination for quite a while and I’ve maintained my skin doing just those two things. That’s it.  


As told to Sara Bliss