New Year, New You O r at least, that’s what a million different magazines are trying to feed us right now, because Americans traditionally spend January trying to remake themselves after a holiday deluge of debauched eating and partying, coupled with a failure to take care of themselves generally. It’s the month or two of gym memberships, before you quit going in March; January’s the month where we cleanse and colonic and vow to drink only green juice and to finally do something about all the damage we’ve done to our skin from sun and bad diet. That’s all well and good, but the reality is that taking care of yourself on the front end is much easier than fixing the mess afterwards. I’ve got quite a few postings this month about what you can do to make yourself look and feel better right now – but if you’re coming back and reading this next July, most of it will still be relevant. Inconceivable though it is, I’m going to start the year off with a few thoughts on fixing your skin and how to do things right, because your goal should not be to look like a fixture on reality TV. Step one is to recognize that you aren’t ever going to look 17 again, nor should you want to (nor should you have had the kind of life that makes you wish you were 17 now). That said, you can look really good. There are the basics you should know. Drink water, lower your levels of caffeine, alcohol and soft drinks. Eat healthy foods, skip the processed crap, and get high doses of vitamins A, E and C – preferably from food, not supplements. Don’t starve yourself or commit to radical diet plans. It will take its toll on your skin and hair. Ixnay on the cigarettes. And most importantly, enough with the tanning. The vast majority of “aged” looking skin is caused by too much sun exposure. Quite aside from the risks of skin cancer, too much sun can produce age spots, heavy freckling (which, after 30, you might as well start calling age spots), premature wrinkling and a host of other problems. Fortunately, this is not 1950, and if you want to look great, there are things that can be done at a good medi-spa – for the most part procedures that are non-invasive, moderately priced, and have minimal downtime, but take years off your face. And that’s what I’m going to talk about today. I’ve made use of a goodly number of medi-spas in the area in the course of my writing, and I’ll tell you up front I only feel right recommending two – the place I’m going to talk about now is Bellevue MediSpa. Yeah, I’m going to recommend that you drive to Bellevue – it’s right of I-40, if you’re in the Nashville area and can drive to Belle Meade from downtown, you can drive to Bellevue. The why is that this particular medi-spa, to my mind, is one of the hidden gems in the area. Set just before you get into the heart of Bellevue (perhaps on your way to Ed Fryer’s awesome RED Wine and Spirits), Barry and Lori Knerr’s place is going to treat you with honesty and respect, and deal with your issues in the best way for you. The location is pleasant, warm and welcoming, and for me a big plus was seeing Thistle Farms products on the shelves for sale as I walked in the door, instead of overpriced moisturizers with vanity labels. Against the south-facing wall is a huge tank of exotic fish. Visiting gave me the opportunity to sit and talk with Barry and Lori, the husband-and-wife team of owners. Talking with them, it’s clear that when you come in here, unlike many places, they’re going to stress the least invasive, least intense treatment process to get you where you want to go. In my case, all I wanted was to get rid of a few pale brown sunspots that seem a permanent fixture on the lower half of my face, something that could be achieved in a single laser session with absolutely minimal downtime (like, say, the rest of the day, period). What, though, do the “average customers” come into a medi-spa for in the first place? Turns out the typical customer is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a woman in her 30s to 60s trying to stave off the effects of age. In our reality, while men are allowed a few fine lines and a smidge or two of gray because they look “distinguished,” women are not. Where once upon a time, the fix could have meant plastic surgery from which you need a long period of rest and recovery, the contemporary repair is often faster, easier and requires a whole lot less down time. A good medi-spa, like Bellevue, is going to give you options from laser treatments (one or multiple, depending on the extent of the damage you want to repair) that deal with everything from sun spots to promoting collagen growth to correcting rosacea, acne and other skin discolorations to spider veins, to Botox injections and fillers like Juvederm and Restylane. Most skin and age related problems can be dealt with in a non-surgical manner, over time, whether you want to take a few years off your skin or deal with a larger and potentially more painful problem, like the afore-mentioned spider veins. There will always be some things that will require genuine medical advice, and the folks at Bellevue MediSpa will let you know if that’s the case. What I like about them is their honesty – “this is what we can do” - and they mean what they say. You won’t get ridiculous promises, you won’t be pushed to spend far more than your budget allows for, and you won’t end up looking like a “Real Housewife” –there are other places that are better bets if you want to look plastic. Among the biggest appeals is the presence of Brazilian native chemist and permanent makeup artist Bea (Beatriz), who does incredible work with cancer patients, tattooing super-fine hairs on as brow replacement for those who’ve lost hair via chemotherapy and remarkable work replacing areola for those who’ve had mastectomies. She also offers scar repair that’s off the charts amazing. This is a situation where you have to see her work to believe it. But the thing is, the reason why I’m saying “hey, it’s January, go get some work done” is because you can, and you can feel secure doing it. That’s regardless of what you need done. Medi-spas are safer than ever, and you can trust good laser technicians - and that means you need to ask questions to make sure your technician is up on his or her training, but that’s what you’d do for any other minor medical procedure, now, isn’t it? The folks at Bellevue MediSpa are being written about today because they’re people who actually care about you, not about making a fast buck – which means you’ll walk out looking real and natural, with the work you wanted done, and without 16 other procedures you’ve been pressured into. Barry and Lori tell me they have a huge variety of clients, from kids who want to get rid of serious acne problems to 90-year-old golf aficionados who have serious sun damage they’d like cleared up to yes, guys who want to do something about their ear hair and need a little laser to fix it. That speaks to their appeal across the board, they’re not just aiming to help the ladies who lunch (not that they won’t, mind you), they're aiming to make a difference for you. Big hint here, right now is the perfect time of year to get laser treatment for sun damage, because you’re going to be keeping out of the sun for a good long while before spring – and those of us who are outdoorsy by nature need to stay out of the sun and keep sunscreened immediately after laser treatment, to avoid side effects like hypopigmentation. And while we’re at it, on that sunscreen? Yeah, your SPF is probably good for about an hour before you need to reapply, so if you don’t want to find yourself treating more sun damage, think to reapply carefully before you go out in the sun at lunch and after work, if you put it on in the morning before you left. It really does make a difference. Bellevue MediSpa, 631 A Old Hickory Blvd., Nashville, Tennessee.