When nurse Suzie Hoitink founded her first clinic in 2005, she had a crystal clear vision: to make medical-grade, results-oriented skincare treatments accessible to people from all walks of life and never compromise on quality or the customer experience.
By sticking to her guns, last week Suzie celebrated the 10th anniversary of Clear Complexions with the opening of her sixth clinic, in Sydney’s Macquarie Centre (North Ryde) shopping precinct.
It’s the first of her clinics to operate in such an environment – indeed possibly the first clinic of its kind to do so in Australia – which Suzie says is the culmination of her ambition to bring high quality skin care services to everyday people.
“The opening of Clear Complexions at Macquarie Centre is one of the biggest highlights of the last decade,” Suzie says. “By being so visible in a major retail hub, it will allow shoppers and passers-by to become acquainted (if they are not already) with the advances in skincare and aesthetic device technology now available to them that will achieve significant results.
“It will give them access to the services of highly qualified and exhaustively trained doctors and nurses, superior cosmeceutical brands such as Rationale and Ultra MD [both proudly Australian], leading aesthetic devices (see list below) for skin correction and rejuvenation, Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) anti-ageing treatments, dermal filler and anti-wrinkle injections, procedure peels, complex masks and the all-important skin analysis technology.
“Clear Complexions also offers a warm and safe environment in which people will feel confident they are getting the best possible advice and care for their individual skin needs and concerns.
“Furthermore, while we address clients’ immediate issues, we always look to the longer term, to help them keep their skin in optimal condition as they age and it changes as a result of various intrinsic and extrinsic factors.”
Suzie’s first clinic opened in her hometown of Canberra (she now has three there; in Bruce, Gungahlin and Woden) because it was the kind of skincare destination she was looking for herself.
She opened up shop in Sydney in 2013 with a clinic in Balmain, followed by Bella Vista and now Macquarie Centre.
The biggest change Suzie has noticed in customers’ behaviour and expectations over the past decade is that they are more savvy and discerning, and far better educated about skin health and factors that accelerate damage and the visible signs of ageing.
But with this greater awareness and knowledge, and the explosion of ever-more-advanced skincare and device technology options, has come its own set of problems, she says.
“People are becoming overwhelmed and confused by so much choice, often with devastating results,” Suzie points out.
“Every single day at one or more of our clinics we see clients who come to us desperate for help. Some of them will have `self-diagnosed’, been swayed by compelling marketing hype about this or that product or device or consulted inexperienced and/or poorly informed therapists.
“As a result they are following `protocols’ that are contra-indicated for their skin type/concern, or have used products and treatments in a lethal combination, making the original problem worse or creating a whole new set of issues.”
Notable among these issues is damaging the barrier of the skin, which leaves it prone to inflammation (eg. redness, itching and flaking), severe congestion and even acne, infection, extreme dryness and dehydration, and acceleration of pigmentation, lines and wrinkles.
“By the time we get to see these clients they are absolutely fed up. They are so relieved to have us take the burden of choices off their shoulders – but I hasten to add that ours is a collaborative process. We don’t just dictate what clients need and should do. We involve and educate them every step of the way.
“We also offer the advantage of being able to have the gamut of cosmetic medical treatments under one roof, thus facilitating an holistic approach to their ongoing skin health.
“One client recently said to me: `I can’t wait to come to one place now for all my treatments. Before I would go to one place for IPL and laser, another for injectables and then a department store for skincare. It was like going to three GPs or three personal trainers and getting different, and sometimes conflicting advice from each’.”
Suzie says one of the biggest breakthroughs she’s witnessed in a decade is skin analysis imaging software.
“I am overwhelmed by the number of clinics that don’t use it. Every single client we see starts with a one-on-one consultation of up to an hour (no Skyping!), including a Canfield Reveal skin analysis to see what is going on under the surface – this makes all the difference to the success of the treatments.
“What we see on the surface is just the tip of the iceberg. How can treatments be fully effective if we don’t know what’s contributing to them from beneath; to be able to tackle those and prevent future manifestations on the epidermis?
“Analysis also allows the client to take an active role in their treatment program. They can see for themselves what is wrong with their skin, and educates them as to why certain products and treatments will be prescribed.
“And they can visibly measure improvements by comparing analytical images on a regular basis. This in turn enhances trust and confidence.”
Suzie attributes Clear Complexions’ success in a ruthlessly competitive market to a number of factors: hard work and dedication, it goes without saying, but exhaustive, ongoing training for the doctors and nurses it employs, the appointments of medical director, esteemed cosmetic physician Dr Herbert Hooi, corporate whiz Ramon Castillo as CEO last year, and National Nurse Trainer Louise Guest.
Of course all this comes at a high price, as has the enormous capital investment Suzie has made in device technology across her clinics. But commitment to her vision wouldn’t have it any other way.
Among the device technology Clear Complexions offers:
- Canfield Reveal state-of-the-art software generates high resolution images that clearly show skin damage beneath the surface such as sun damage, burgeoning brown spots, red areas and enables the practitioner to examine every wrinkle in clear detail. Also, the ability to customise and print out reports with treatment recomendations to provide clients wiht the blueprint of exactly what is needed to give her/him the results they desire. MEDTELAESTHETIC.COM.AU
- Fraxel re:store Dual fractionated laser, with FDA clearances for treating wrinkles, fine lines around the eyes, age spots/sunspots, acne scars, surgical scars, melasma (hormonal pigmentation), discolouration and uneven pigmentation, sun-induced redness and irregular texture. FRAXEL.COM
- The Energist has been a leader in pulsed-light since 1999. With exclusive VPL (variable pulsed light; the next generation IPL) it is widely regarded as one of the best and most reliable pulsed-light devices for permanent hair reduction, skin rejuvenation, reducing pigmentation and pigmented acne scarring, treating vascular conditions such as thread veins, capillary damage, cherry spots, small leg veins and rosacea. It is suitable for most, but not all skin types but clients will undergo a thorough consolation to assess their suitability. HIGHTECHLASER.COM.AU
- HydraFacial MD is a unique 30-minute, four-step procedure combining cleansing and exfoliation, gentle acid peel, painless, automated extractions using vortex suction to clean out pores, and hydration and infusion: antioxidants and hyaluronic acid are Vortex-Fused to nourish and protect. HYDRAFACIAL.COM.AU
- Clear + Brilliant, a gentle TGA-listed fractionated laser (Class IIb) for the repair and rejuvenation of the skin, and an ideal complement to other clinical treatments. It is from the same company that developed Fraxel, Thermage and Isolaz. It is designed to fill the space between a microdermabrasion and more aggressive treatments such as Fraxel, refreshing skin with minimal discomfort and little to no downtime. CLEARANDBRILLIANT.COM
- Thermage CPT is a radio frequency (RF) device that deeply stimulates collagen to tighten skin and slow the ageing process. It heats the skin at a depth of around 3mm, in the deeper dermis. This is where the structural collagen, or “scaffolding”, is produced. With age, and an unhealthy dose of UV exposure over the years, collagen levels decline and the skin becomes more lax and crepey, resulting in jowls, deep lines and thinner skin. Suitable clients are generally between 35-60 and in good health. THERMAGE.COM
- Genesis vascular laser treatment uses a1064nm Nd:YAG laser to coagulate and collapse veins. It uses high-power microsecond pulses at high repetition rates to safely heat the dermis, stimulating collagen and reducing redness. This makes it ideal for diffuse redness, Poikiloderma of Civatte, textural and pore improvement and wrinkles. Rosacea is one of the toughest vascular conditions to treat but with the combination of stablemate Excel laser for large vessels, Genesis for diffuse med-dermis redness and IPL for superficial vessels, the multi-modality approach allows practitioners to tailor a treatment plan to address vascular damage on every level. CUTERA.COM
- Omnilux Medical photodynamic therapy is a cutting edge Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology; non-surgical light treatment to stimulate the skin’s own renewal process. The system consists of three wavelengths; infrared (Omnilux plus), red (Omnilux revive) and blue (Omnilux blue). These specific wavelengths excite particular cell activity and depending on the condition being treated, and overall promote healthy skin function and radiance. Because the light does not generate heat it cannot cause thermal damage. Omnilux is popular as a standalone treatment but also an ideal complement to more invasive treatments, as it accelerates the healing process. OMNILUX.COM.AU
- Isolaz. “Treating acne takes a multi-faceted approach,” says Suzie. “Over the years, Clear Complexions Clinics have gained a reputation for great success in treating this often debilitating condition and we added the Isôlaz system to our arsenal of acne treatments.” Isolaz controls acne at the source by combining vacuum and broadband light, treating existing acne while helping to prevent future breakouts. The vacuum applies a gentle pressure to help clear the pores and the broadband light destroys the bacteria. People who benefit most from Isolaz are those that suffer mild-moderate acne. It can be used on all skin types, with no down time. ISOLAZ.COM
Suzie acknowledges it would be beyond many clinics’ financial reach to invest in the range of technology featured by Clear Complexions (even rent such a large array), or the resources to employ experienced practitioners to operate the devices, all requiring, as they do, different levels of qualifications and training – and ongoing, as the technologies advance rapidly.
Her advice, then, to those starting out in the cosmetic medical or high-level dermal aesthetic industry, or those established but in a rut or struggling, and who do not have the means to make big capital investments (even that’s not a guarantee) …
“Find a point of difference; something you feel passionate about and do well, and channel much of your energy into that (providing, of course, that specialty is in keeping with the demographic you wish to attract),” she says.
“You can’t do everything well; you can’t be all things to all people. If you try to do that, your offering will be diluted and business will inevitably suffer.
“Gain a reputation among clients for the specialty you choose, which will encourage word of mouth referrals, and focus your marketing initiatives on showcasing what you do best.”