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Meet Dr. Josie Tenore of FreshSkin Medical Spa and Wellness Center in Highland Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Josie Tenore.

Dr. Josie, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Wow! I like to say that at age 5 I announced I was going to be a Doctor… now I just want to be 5! I am the American Dream… born in Italy, my parents immigrated to Toronto Canada when I was 4 and I really did declare that I was going to be a doctor at age 5. I never strayed from that. At age 16 I moved out and have been on my own since then. I put myself through high school, University and then Medical School.

My learning has always been a little “different” from the norm… back in medical school I was asking about supplements and alternative therapies and luckily I did train in Canada where the focus of the education was on “prevention” rather than “disease”. [U.S. model].

I immersed myself in a full year course on Nutrition in medical school, whereas most U.S. universities only cover 2 weeks on the topic, if that.  I started out my career in Family Medicine because I was greedy and didn’t want to “give anything up”. I helped couples become pregnant, cared for pregnant women, delivered babies, looked after children, then adolescents, [was board certified in adolescent medicine], did psychotherapy, couples therapy and geriatrics. Because the training in Canada was geared towards preparing Family doctors to work in a rural setting, we had extensive training in dermatology and surgery as well.

I received extra training in varicose vein treatments in 1986, started doing facial chemical peels in 1988 and introduced medical-grade skin care products to my patients in 1988 as well.

Because I did a LOT of adolescent medicine, I treated a lot of acne and other dermatological conditions and did a lot of in office procedures that most doc’s didn’t offer. For example, dermatology – I removed a lot of lumps, bumps, and cancers and had a focus in gynecology.

Around 1993, I didn’t really like what was happening in the Canadian health care system, I was recruited to move to Massachusetts… so I “made a deal” with myself.   I recall thinking “You have always dreamed of going to Harvard… apply, if you get in, pack up and move”… not thinking I would be accepted…. I was, so I did. I worked full time while I completed my Masters of Science degree in Maternal and Child health at the Harvard School of Public Health.

I was then recruited by Northwestern University in Chicago to help develop the Family Practice Residency Program.

I did that for about 11+ years, then my Chairman left and the department changed. I then looked around {now 2003} and said to myself “no one likes the aging process, what can I do to help?” So I started my first medical spa with a plastic surgeon as a partner. We had different styles and went our separate ways after our lease was up, five years into the business. This is when I founded FreshSkin Medical Spa & Wellness Center.

Because of my 22-1/2 years in primary care, it was clear to me that wellness was an integral part of looking good and aging well. My motto or byline after all is “Beauty begins with Beautiful Skin, and Beautiful skin begins with a healthy body”.

I still have a vision of developing a multi-disciplinary center with plastic surgeons, dermatologists, endocrinologists [interested in aging] and primary care docs like me who have a solid knowledge of what it means to be “well” but also have a sense of artistry. The artistry is essential in providing my patients with a “restored and refreshed” look…. not a “what have you done to your face?” look.

I tell my patients “I don’t do Botox and fillers”… after they look horrified and say “then why am I here?” I reply, “I restore youth and beauty… I use Botox and fillers and lasers as my tools…

I have also been known to say “what you are really getting is psychotherapy… I just throw in the beauty for free.”’

In summary… Why am I different?
#1 – I am still in business in the Medical Spa arena – a lot of other spas have come and gone in the past 11-1/2 years.
#2. – I have a solid understanding of “medicine” and what is “normal” and what is “optimal”. While I pay attention to “randomized controlled trials” and all that medicine has to offer… I [and everyone on my team] approach our patients from the perspective of “you are an individual, we need to find out about you, your health, your genetics, your family history, your needs, your desires, your goals”…. and so on. It is individualized care and hopefully we can get our patients to “feel as good as they look, and look as good as they feel”.
#3. – When it comes to the cosmetic treatments – I don’t just “fill holes”… as noted above I look at a patient’s face and see what needs to be done to restore them to a more youthful, better them… not a carbon copy of what everyone else looks like with huge cheeks and big, over-inflated lips.
#4. I genuinely care about my patients and am much more focused on the goal for them…. less so on “what can I sell them.”
#5. When they become patients, I “welcome them to the family”… our patients do feel welcome and cared for in our environment.
#6. I don’t stop striving for better ways to improve outcomes… sometimes it drives my staff a little crazy because protocols are “constantly changing”…. but it’s all for my patients and to help me sleep better at night.
#7. I LOVE what I do and I am a very active member of the team… not just some figure head that “reviews charts” for a med spa.

I’m sure there is more… but I have already bored you enough!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Is there such a thing as a smooth road?
Of course there are struggles…

I’m not a dermatologist….
I’m not a plastic surgeon…

Sometime that matters to people.

My business is 100% funded by discretionary income… the economic downturn could have killed my business… but it didn’t….

I have achieved growth to a particular level and taking it to the next level is proving to be challenging…

Finally, physicians are not very collegial here in the US…. they view one another as “competition” rather than working together to build a better center … and provide better overall patient care and experience…. I will persist in trying to find the few like me who share this vision… that will help me take the practice to the next level…

So, as you know, we’re impressed with FreshSkin Medical Spa & Wellness Center – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I have a health and wellness center. I focus on cosmetic dermatology – laser resurfacing, “rebuilding” faces with dermal fillers and neuromodulators… I am know for giving my patients a very “natural and youthful look”…. nothing unnatural.

I also have a team.
– A Laser Specialist who does the photo rejuvenation treatments, body sculpting, skin tightening with radiofrequency, chemical peels, hydrafacials and laser hair removal.
– A Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine who does medical weight loss, acupuncture and wellness consultations. Both him and I also provide comprehensive lab testing and interpretation, which includes many genetics tests, micronutrient testing to ensure that you are getting all of your nutrients from food, food sensitivity testing if indicated, and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.

Our goal is to allow our patients to experience the best quality of life both in how they feel and how they look.

I am really proud of my staff/team. Without them I would not be in business!

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I would like to develop a training center so I can teach what I know.

I would like to develop a multi-disciplinary center of age management and cosmetic medicine. I am actively meeting with people and working towards this goal.

I would like to develop a “wellness and age management” workshop weekend and invite everyone in the industry to present… this would be a great resource for patients…. some of us “assume” that “everyone knows what can be done out there”… it’s just not the case.

That’s plenty!

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