Bella Vie Spa wants patients feel better about themselves
By Janelle Walker For The Courier-News September 6, 2011 5:22PM
Dr. Ana Gephart demonstrates certain cosmetic procedures that can be used for beauty treatment using a natural approach at Bella Vie Medical Spa in the Provena St. Joe Medical Office Building. Gephart is also an internal medicine physician. August 12, 2011 | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 30, 2011 12:27AM
ELGIN — Angela Bernard knows the emotional pain of having facial scarring.
Bernard, an esthetician at Bella Vie Medical Spa, was injured when a heating boiler exploded in her face in 1992, leaving her with burn scars over 60 percent of her body.
Before the accident, Bernard was in pharmaceutical sales. After the accident, she went back to school for the esthetician license, learning how to perform laser and skin other treatments for people whose faces have been scarred.
Dr. Anandita “Ana” Gephart was happy, and busy, with her internal medicine practice in Elgin and didn’t see the need to expand her services.
Bernard talked Gephart into taking the classes she’d need to be certified, but it wasn’t just her friend’s suggestion, either.
After practicing in Elgin for 15 years, her clients began asking for the treatments, Gephart said. “I was 26 years old when I started, and my patient population was in their 20s to 40s,” she said. “As they aged, they were asking me to learn how to do these procedures, and Angela pushed me to do this.”
Now, as Bella Vie Medical Spa, located at Provena Saint Joseph Hospital’s Medical Office Building II, area residents can get injections such as Radiesse, a collagen stimulant; Juvederm, a collagen replacement; and yes, Botox. As the esthetician, Bernard provides laser hair removal, permanent makeup, microdermabrasion, laser treatments, and other procedures for the face and skin.
Bernard’s procedures can help rectify acne scars, wrinkles and sun damage — and the kind of deep-tissue damage she had herself.
Both women said offering the beauty services is not about making money or creating “artificial”-looking people, but about helping their clients feel better about themselves.
Gephart said she takes a different approach to the injectable and facial treatments she offers at Bella Vie.
“My whole thoughts are very different from most people. I have a different take, a different reason, and a different approach,” Gephart said. “I never really wanted to do this.”
She was a little “iffy” about whether it was something she wanted to do, Gephart added. “Is it good? Is it sustainable? Is there a market for it?” were the questions she asked herself. She found that the answers for all the questions were “yes.”
She also found that whether the patient was a man or a woman, they wanted a female doctor to do the injections. “Women tend to have a gentler, more natural approach,” Gephart said.
Because of that natural approach she has to cosmetic procedures, Gephart said, she often turns people away. They once had a client who wanted her chin to come to a point, the duo said, and they turned her away.
“A plastic surgeon would do it, because they work in an all-cash business,” Gephart said. “For me … I am not going to do that,” she said.
They also have seen the results of an aggressive injection, or one put in the wrong spot, leaving the client with a lopsided face. The results of those injections can last from six months to several years, Gephart said, so she is very careful about where to place the needle to prevent a bad result.
Since so much of their business comes via word of mouth, a bad treatment can hurt her business and her reputation, Gephart added. “You get mistakes if you go to injectors who are not good. It is all in the hands of the people who are doing the injections.”
She also encourages patients to get a short-term treatment first and see how it feels and whether they like the results before doing more. “First, there is a huge price difference,” between an injection that will last for nine months and one that will last for five to seven years. She has no problem having people pay as they go, Gephart said, as opposed to paying for a package they may choose not to use.
Neither, they said, can the beauty treatment work miracles. No one will look 20 years younger, no matter what treatments they get, Gephart said.
“Don’t think you will look like you are 30 again,” she said. “The goal is to make a better you.”