Medical Director and Owner of Vitahl Medical Aesthetics in Colorado in the US, Dr Tahl Humes is immersed in the cosmetic and laser industry. She is considered one of the best injectors in the country, and she makes it her business to be up-to-date and trained in the latest technologies and devices to offer to her clients. Among her many accolades and involvements, she is one of the expert consultants for Cutera and when I attended the Cutera University Forum in Sydney recently, I was lucky enough to have her answer some questions.
I first became interested in aesthetic medicine when I was approaching my 30th birthday. I knew that as I aged, I wanted to age well, and I started looking into options. As I was looking at different anti-aging options, I realized that I was capable of performing the treatments, and I started taking courses in aesthetic medicine.
2. With all the different laser treatments, devices and technology on the market today, and with different doctors endorsing different products, how is the consumer expected to objectively identify which treatment is right for them?
It can be difficult for patients to know what the best treatment is for their aesthetic issues. When I talk with patients about their concerns, I get a feel not only for what they want to treat, but also whether they are willing to have downtime or do multiple treatments. Most patients need combination therapy so we talk about their goals, where to start, and what treatment combinations they will need. From a patient standpoint, it is important to research the treatments as well as the physicians offering the treatments. From a physician’s standpoint, it is my responsibility to assess the patient’s skin and needs, and then to educate them on the difference between the different treatments that are available.
3. How important is it to only consider lasers and devices from reputable companies?
This is very important to me. I want to be able to offer my patients the best treatments available. I also want to know that the treatments I offer will be consistent and safe for my patients. Prior to getting into aesthetic medicine, I had been burnt by a laser during laser hair removal because that laser was not calibrated properly, and the clinician treating me did not know how to deal with this. The laser was not a Cutera laser. As a physician, I did not want to be in a situation where my patients could easily be burnt so when I was looking for lasers I wanted lasers that were safe, consistent, and did not need to be calibrated by the clinician. I also want to know that I have the support of a reputable company if I need them. With Cutera, I am always able to contact a clinical nurse if I have questions about a treatment, and need assistance.
4. Companies such as Cutera are obviously at the cutting edge of design and safety when it comes to their technology and devices. However, do you think there needs to be more regulation with regards to who uses these devices to treat patients/customers?
Regulation is a tough subject. Lasers are regulated devices and in the US can only be sold to a physician. While Cutera will only sell if a physician is part of the deal, other laser companies have been known to sell to anyone or non-physicians purchase lasers on the resale market. When this happens you have non-physicians owning and running lasers without proper medical oversight. The biggest issue is people buying lasers and having and adverse outcome, but they do not know how to treat it and the patient is the one who suffers. Overall, I would like to see more regulation, but you have to be careful with this because the pendulum can swing too far and the industry can be over regulated.
5. What are your favourite treatments/devices, and why?
I have a lot of treatments I love, not only as a physician, but also as a patient. It is hard to pick a favourite because there is no one device that does everything.
For skin, if I had to pick one as a favourite, I would pick Laser Genesis. This is not because I do not love other treatments, but because it is so versatile. Laser Genesis offers great results for all skin types with no downtime. We use Laser Genesis to treat pore size, texture, fine lines, wrinkles, and redness. There are very few patients who do not benefit from Laser Genesis and patients love it because they see real results without having to take time off from work or life.
6. As well as various other philanthropic efforts, you have recently started working with at-risk adolescents. Do you think there is too much emphasis and pressure on teens to be “perfect” in today’s world, and what would you say to a minor wanting plastic or cosmetic surgery before they had turned 18?
Teens have always been prone to peer pressure. With social media and the world of Reality TV, it seems that insecurities and the response to peer pressure are more noticeable. For the most part I would counsel a minor against big changes to their appearance, unless it is medially necessarily or life altering. For example, a patient who has a debilitating port wine stain could improve their appearance and self esteem by undergoing treatments. In this case I would talk with the patient and their parents about the pros and cons, however, if it is a teen who wants a breast augmentation I would counsel that she wait until she is an adult to undergo surgery.
Thank you to Dr Humes; wishing I lived in Colorado at the moment – I know who I’d be visiting for my treatments!