On an especially sunny day, I’m studying my pale face in the mirror as I chat on the phone with my art director, Kim. “Who’s this spotted older lady staring back at me?” I ask Kim. Sure, I’m losing collagen like all women over 30. But smile wrinkles and skin spots are literally dragging me down. After a quick Google, I call Dr. Dean Kane.
THE SPACE: The Dr. Dean Kane Center for Cosmetic Surgery & MediSpa in Pikesville is cozy and full of colorful art by Kane himself. If you told me it was also the set of a hyperbolic Terry Gilliam movie about plastic surgery, I’d believe you. For one thing, Kane’s art is 3-D—enormous flowers and skyscrapers spring from the walls. And each of his female staff members bears a slight resemblance: cheeks seemingly inflated, lips swollen. Lauri Kane, 61, the doctor’s wrinkle-free wife of 40 years, is the clinic’s patient educator (with a master of public health degree). She greets me in her slim-fitting lab coat and platform sandals (love her sky-blue toenails), and lets me ask 100 questions about my aging face.
THE CONSULTATION: “There’s nothing like removing actual skin to get the actual change,” Mrs. Kane says as I flip photos of her before and after the facelift Dr. Kane gave her at 52. Since my nasal folds (smile lines)—and everything below—are what bug me most, she tells me I might consider a necklift in a few years. For now, Mrs. Kane recommends a gentler course of action: As part of my hyperpigmentation therapy, I’m to use the center’s beloved Dr. Zein Obagi products (ZO Skin Health) to “change my skin color,” deleting freckles and spots. The Melamin and Melamix will bleach to eliminate discoloration; the prescription Tretinoin (not a ZO product) will make my “cells turn over faster and clear away dead layers of skin.” In addition to the these products ($250), Mrs. Kane recommends annual injections of Restylane ($1400). Dr. Kane, in his art socks and jazzy tie, gives me a Restylane sample on the house—injections to my upper cheeks, not my pesky nasal folds, because that approach might actually make these lines appear heavier. Finally, the Kanes advise I embrace a more involved (and expensive) injection regimen called Sculptra in the near future.
THE VERDICT: So I buy the ZO products Mrs. Kane adores, even though I “will go through a six-week flaking phase.” And I may itch. They prove easy to use. Almost immediately—a few days in—my worst spot has faded. Itchiness and flakiness aren’t extreme. I don’t plan on getting Restylane treatment again—it made me sore—but I am mostly pleased with the way the product has lifted my cheeks and modified my smile lines. Will I try Sculptra? Depends how sad the happy lady in the mirror starts to strike me.