A Return to Self-Care and My Holiday Glow

Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. is a Gynecologist, Director of the New York Menopause Center, Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Assistant Attending Obstetrician and Gynecologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She is a board certified fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Allen is also a member of the Faculty Advisory Board and the Women’s Health Director of The Weill Cornell Community Clinic (WCCC). Dr. Allen was the recipient of the 2014 American Medical Women’s Association Presidential Award.

It’s been a grueling autumn and I began to look like I felt.

This year, I became involved in civic life early in 2018 with commitments to candidates from around the country chosen by a group of younger women who were ready to walk the walk of real political involvement. This was in addition to busier than usual office hours, work on Monday nights as the medical director of the free women’s clinic run by the medical students at our medical school, and more serious support for four candidates in New York and Connecticut. Did I mention that I did not give up anything except self-care and fun?  No exercise, not enough sleep, working late hours night after night, and barely basic skin care. Two weeks before the mid-term elections on November 6th, I glanced in one of those dreadful magnifying mirrors. I could see red patches on my forehead from sun damage I developed from a few summers chasing an elusive tan that no Irish-American ever obtains. What women with my genes do get from prolonged early sun exposure is lifelong facial skin change: recurring red patches on facial skin and prominent capillaries. I have managed this skin damage for years with laser treatments twice a year very effectively. But I had no time this year for self-care and the mirror told me that I was overdue for some pre-holiday freshening.

That morning, I called my colleague and fellow board member at Women’s Voices for Change, Dr. Anetta Reszko to ask if she could find time at the end of her schedule to start my complexion renovation.  Truthfully, I find it a bit daunting as a physician to have Dr. Reszko examine my freshly washed face with her special lights and magnifiers, to listen to her medical “hmmms,” and to be told exactly what I secretly know is wrong. Trust, not easy for me, comes from my intuition that she always knows her patients and always has a plan.

The assessment and plan (as we doctors like to put it) was that I had neglected my long established and effective skin care treatments and had made everything worse with too much coffee, too little water, too much worry, a dreadful diet and too little sleep. This could be repaired but not in one visit.  First, I had an ionization/microcurrent facial to stimulate facial muscle tone, followed by an exfoliation treatment. Certainly, this treatment felt both stimulating and relaxing. Next, I had IPL, a laser/light treatment, to remove the signs of sun damage that caused skin redness and broken blood vessels on my face.  I only had a few of those ugly blood vessels but was glad to know they would be gone for six months.

More examinations from different perspectives produced a decidedly serious “hmmmm” from Dr. Reszko. The “hmmmm” was reinforced with a magnifying hand mirror the doctor gave me so that I could see the worry lines that were etched into my forehead that I swear were not there last year. I needed no further information: I had Botox right then in my forehead, dear readers. Yes, I did!

Dr. Reszko treats Dr. Allen with a Clear and Brilliant laser treatment.

Two days after Election Tuesday, I had a late afternoon visit for step two of the complexion renovation program.  A nurse applied topical lidocaine cream to my face and set up a portable office in an exam room so that I could continue my chart work while the anesthetic did its job.  Dr. Reszko performed a painless superficial resurfacing treatment, Clear and Brilliant, a gentle laser that removes top layers of the skin in a controlled manner to refresh the skin from the inside out by helping to build collagen and remove decades of sun damage (I call collagen “mother nature’s little helper”).  This laser helps to create a smoother and clearer refreshed complexion.  And, the down time is limited with a fresh complexion in four days.

Yasmine, an aesthetician, treats Dr. Allen with an oxygen facial.

After the laser treatment, Yasmine, an elegant French aesthetician, infused highly concentrated oxygen along with French miracle molecules that were to be absorbed into my lasered skin, enhancing efficacy of the treatment and decreasing the side effects of redness and swelling.

I am glad that I gave myself this small gift of self-care and that I have returned to my former routine of adequate sleep, hydration, and exercise. Now, four days after my second skin treatment, my complexion is fresh and I have a pre-holiday glow.

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  • Barbarara Thornbrough November 12, 2018 at 8:44 pm

    Thanks for posting this info about your face and your well being. Wow- who knew that to look so great one has all of these options available. Dr. Pat has gorgeous skin and she is a wonderful Dr. Personally, I would go to her if she looked like Frankenstein. Well, maybe not quite that bad. Since I am in Florida full time I can not go to Dr Pat any more but if you are in NYC you would be wise be a patient of hers as she will monitor your health with great care. Cheers to you Dr. for returning yourself to being as heathy as you can be.

  • Andrea November 12, 2018 at 7:53 am

    Dr Reszko and her team are the best!