What a meeting! I have attended more medical meetings than my frequent flyer card wants to admit, but this was truly one of the more beneficial experiences I’ve had. Despite the name, Cosmetic Boot Camp was a heavy-duty, advanced agenda targeted to the professional truly serious about aesthetic medicine. And from the faculty, to the venue, to the sponsors, this meeting was truly spectacular on all counts.

The cochairs—Kenneth Beer, MD, voluntary assistant professor at the University of Miami, and Mary Lupo, MD, clinical professor at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans—brought together the top names in dermatology, plastic surgery, otolaryngology, and ophthalmology to provide the attendees with 2½ days of intense informational training and live sessions.

Aspen was a magical getaway, and it had something for everyone in the family. Although it’s a world-renowned ski resort during the winter, it’s also fun during the summer. The same gondola that takes you up to some of the best snow skiing in the world also gives you sweeping views of the mountains and landscapes of summer. We were in the center of Aspen within walking distance to shops and restaurants; and we were able to go hiking, biking, fly fishing, and horseback riding.

The beautiful St Regis Hotel was conducive to this intimate meeting. Its customer service was phenomenal. From the greeting at the door to the concierges who were always available to help (to say nothing of the hand-delivered water while the attendees were checking in), this hotel got ooohs and aahs galore. The hotel included every amenity you could ask for: a state-of-the-art health club with televisions built into each piece of cardio equipment; 24/7 Internet access; a luxurious yet cozy lobby with a live jazz trio; a wonderful spa for massages, facials, and oxygen treatments; a gun and fish shop for fly fishing; and the most comfortable beds imaginable.

When we weren’t being pampered or out enjoying the majestic surroundings, we were learning and networking with the best core specialists in the aesthetic industry.

Day 1
The cochairs, Beer and Lupo, welcomed a full house of eager participants to Boot Camp. The day began with a keynote lecture about interpersonal skills from Fred Pryor, who talked about building rapport using an “I, thou” versus an “I, it” mentality. He stressed the importance of engaging compassionately with your audience, no matter who it is, so that you could have a truly enriching dialogue. He should know after being married for 50 years!

We then moved on to a full panel of the top injectors, who talked about injectables and the science behind cosmeceuticals. They shared their many pearls of wisdom and even demonstrated their work via how-to videos. Their discussion, which covered the gamut of various fillers, included information about more than 20 fillers and advised how to choose the proper one for each particular concern.

Gary D. Monheit, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, talked about fillers as the new frontier for facial aging. He stressed the importance of being familiar with the various techniques, functions, and uses of each filler, and explained the differences between wrinkle fillers and volumizers. He also noted the new fillers made from porcine collagen and the homogeneous gel-based hyaluronics, which will be available in the United States sometime in the next year.

Beer reported that, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the market for fillers is the United States will grow to $900 million in 2007 and that hyaluronic acid products will maintain their dominance for the next several years. He also talked about permanent fillers and their additional indications, such as for treating acne scars.

Susan Weinkle, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Southern Florida, Bradenton, discussed her poly(l-lactic acid) pearls, a permanent filler used in the face for contouring, in the temple region, and even in the hands for a more youthful appearance. She also showed before-and-after pictures of her own beautiful mother.

Patricia Wexler, MD, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, in her talk, “The Many Faces of Fat, Frontiers in Fat Augmentation,” explained in detail—and on video—how fat restores volume and, when used as a dermal and epidermal rejuvenation technique, restores normal contours to abnormal anatomy.

Joel Cohen, MD, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver, presented a botulinum toxin Type A update for the entire face as well as for the neck and body parts that suffer from hyperhidrosis.

Nowell Solish, MD, from the University of Toronto, updated attendees about what’s coming in fillers. He also talked about thinking outside the box, such as using fillers for malar highlighting and increasing facial width.

Lupo went on to review cosmeceuticals, which protect, renew, and restore using anti-oxidants, vitamins, and growth factors, to name a few. You need cosmeceuticals because, she says, “You can’t reverse the freight train until you stop it.”

Jeanine Downie, MD, in private practice in New Jersey, reported on ethnic skin types. Since 2000, the number of aesthetic procedures performed on African Americans and Asians increased 24%, and the number performed on Latinos increased a whopping 49%. Hyperpigmentation is one of the major concerns of ethnic skin, and being culturally sensitive to all skin types will help your diverse practices grow.

While the family members were off fly fishing, shopping, or hiking, the attendees spent the afternoon watching the industry’s top injectors show off their talents with live filler and botulinum toxin Type A injection demonstrations. Using the latest high-tech video equipment, the attendees got up close and personal with the various techniques.

Day 2
This day was devoted to “Beyond Injectables,” and Lupo started things off with tried-and-true sclerotherapy techniques. “It’s not glamorous, but it is effective,” she says, reminding the audience that, “Perfection is infinity. You can approach it, but it can never be reached.”

Craig Teller, MD, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, talked about techniques beyond sclerotherapy and venous disease. His message was, “no more stripping,” but rather, using phlebectomy with local anesthetic to give the patient a better result. Another solution is to use transilluminated power phlebectomy with general or light anesthesia in the operating room to give you a great visual of the veins and to reduce the number of incisions.

Sue Ellen Cox, MD, a dermatologist, and Charles Finn, MD, a plastic surgeon—a husband-and-wife team who run a successful practice in Chapel Hill, NC—explained the advantages of adding liposuction to your dermatology-services menu as a dermatologist, and then when to recommend plastic surgery to the patient who wants more than dermatology can offer. They also talked about the importance of a great staff and excellent patient-relations skills.

Gregory Ruff, MD, the developer of the thread lift, who also practices in Chapel Hill, talked about “Advances in Barbed Sutures for Tissue Suspension and Wound Closure.” He stressed the synergy using knotless contour threads along with trichloroacetic acid skin peels and botulinum toxin Type A to get an excellent result.

Vic Narurkar, MD, of San Francisco updated us about lasers used to remove hair and to treat photorejuvenation, leg veins, facial telangiectasias, and acne. Fractional resurfacing is the latest skin rejuvenation for the face, body, chest, and hands; however, the jury is still out about skin-tightening technologies.

Narurkar stressed that cooling is the key to successful laser outocmes and presented examples of complications when proper cooling was not administered. His focus was on combination therapies such as lasers, fillers, and botulinum toxin Type A injections to get truly great results.

Cox spoke again, this time about the “Do’s and Don’ts in Building and Retaining Patients”—about giving proper attention to treating your staff and patients as family, and communicating effectively. She even takes her entire staff on vacation as a reward for a job well done.

Katie Rodan, MD, of Oakland, Calif, the cocreator of a popular skin care line and a media maven, talked about making the most of the media and how you can “never let them see you sweat.” She talks from experience and understands the value and credibility of good publicity.

For the family members, this afternoon was for lounging by the pool or riding horses; and for the attendees, this afternoon was filled with live patient workshops that showed how easy it is to remove unwanted hair, photodamage, and age spots. In another workshop, the use of barbed sutures for facial rejuvenation was demonstrated.

In the evening, all the attendees were treated to an outdoor barbecue dinner that included music and enough corn on the cob, chicken, salmon, and desserts to make you comatose. Lupo received a plaque for her resilience in recovering her practice after Hurricane Katrina, and Beer received a plaque for all of his hard work and contributions to continuing education.

Day 3
After enjoying another fantastic breakfast in this elegant setting, the final morning was filled with pearls of wisdom on growing an aesthetic practice.

I gave a talk about the “Do’s and Don’ts of Dispensing.” I also covered “The Consultation: From the Patient’s Point of View” and how to build a rapport with your patients so that they trust you.

Lupo gave another great talk, this time about marketing your practice on a shoestring budget, and Bill Miller of Allergan stressed the importance of financial benchmarking and comparing your numbers against your peers—as well as yourself—for prior periods of time so that you could make better business decisions that improve your performance.

Lastly, Page Piland from Allergan gave us the “Three P’s of Successful Practice Building”: the patients, the personnel, and the practice.

Minds brimming with new ideas and knowledge, bodies pampered beyond belief, it was then time to leave Cosmetic Boot Camp and return to the real world. No one will soon forget about this magical place or all that was learned.

Hope to see you at Boot Camp next year.

Catherine Maley, MBA, is president and senior marketing strategist of San Francisco-based Cosmetic Image Marketing, a public relations, advertising, and marketing firm that specializes in helping aesthetic practices grow. She can be reached at (415) 377-8700 or [email protected].