#MakeAFuss: Dr Altona Myers on aesthetics, going it alone and saying 'no' to clients
Be honest - have you ever considered having a little work done?
With celebs’ ever-changing faces and our constant pursuit of the perfect selfie, cosmetic procedures – once niche and a just a little bit taboo - have gone mainstream.
More and more of us want a new look, meaning a new generation of ‘professionals’ has sprung up, ready and willing to cash in on the trend.
We need to be wary of the chancers who don't have the medical expertise to look after their clients, warns Dr Altona Myers of Dublin's Facial Rejuve Clinic.
“A lot of people can jump on two or three day courses and get a certificate (to do fillers)," she says.
“It’s really important that you're finding someone who is well skilled and trained and knows what they’re doing. You do only get the one face so it’s not about getting cheap deals.
"Everyone notices the overfilled faces and that gives the good aesthetic doctors a bad name. You shouldn’t notice the good work, you should just look at someone and think ‘God, they look well.’"
Dentist turned aesthetician
Born into a family of five medics and trained as a dentist at Trinity, there’s little she doesn’t know about how the face works.
“It’s drilled into you from year one in dentistry, we did dissections of the cadavers from first year,” she says.
“It’s very important to see what’s underneath the skin, the layers of the skin, the blood vessels and veins.
"If you’re going to uncertified people, they mightn’t know where anything is and then when problems arise, do they know what to do?"
So what would make a dentist move into the world of aesthetics?
"The facial aesthetic goes hand-in-hand with dentistry, learning about the anatomy of the face and the nerves and blood vessels," Altona says.
"I was doing a lot of bondings on teeth, veneer consults and smile design and this led me into the aesthetic industry. I loved it from the start. I was just bitten by the aesthetic bug and there was no stopping me."
Knowing she wanted a change, she took the plunge in 2011 and went to train on London's Harley Street, a medical community that she says is most up-to-date with the latest aesthetics developments from the US.
She came home to Ireland and put what she'd learned into practice, working in different clinics and up-skilling all the time to keep up with new techniques in a fast-moving industry.
This year, she's finally fulfilled her ambition and started her own business.
"That was always the goal; to work for myself. I was a bit naïve but it’s been a really interesting process," she says of opening the Facial Rejuve Clinic.
"There’s so much to do, so much to learn. I love making people feel good about themselves, it’s so rewarding."
'I’m not here to change people.'
The range of people looking into cosmetic procedures now is more varied than ever.
Thirty per cent of Altona's clients are men while younger and younger women are also coming in for consults.
It's often the clients in their twenties who are seeking the most dramatic changes, she says, bringing photos of what they want their face to look like.
Of course, it's not that simple.
"They say 'I want these lips' or 'I want these cheeks or this nose', but I’m not here to change people.
"Everyone has their own beauty and features and I think you have to work and enhance that person’s features rather than say 'I want you to look like Kylie Jenner or some celebrity.'"
It unnerves her that people so young want big transformations, she admits, but she will refuse to do work that she doesn't think is right for the client.
"It’s really important to educate the younger age range in saying 'You are beautiful, we don’t need to change you. We can enhance little things about you'."
"I’m sure they’ll find somebody who will fill and puff put their face if they want but they will regret that later on.
"You only have that one face and nobody looks like you so I don’t know why you'd want to look like everybody else."
Building the business
Social media may be having an impact on the sort of requests that Altona gets in her clinic but, like in any business, it's also become a key tool for her to reach clients old and new.
The business of beauty lends itself especially well to platforms like Instagram and Facebook.
"Millenials are all about it - people love to see a video.
"It’s very important that they can get a feel for what things look like. For example, I put out a video recently of what the vampire facial looks like so people could actually see it and can plan around their appointment."
Running the business and all the odds and ends that come with it, including social media, means Altona has little downtime right now.
"It's all go," she admits, but says it's a labour of love.
"My love of the aesthetics meant I was going to jump ship and make this happen. Opening up my own clinic has always been a dream of mine but it’s take a while to branch out and do.
"Looking back, I should have done it sooner!"
She'd only urge others to get into aesthetics if they're willing to put time into learning.
"Make sure you’re getting really good training you’re not just doing the short courses, that you’re shadowed by someone for the first while and that you’re not taking on anything that’s too big," she says.
"It’s OK to say to a client 'I don’t know' or I can refer you to someone else, rather than trying to take on the world all at once."
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