Sofia Bouzian: The Beauty Doctor
By Sujany Baleswaran
From the ‘no-makeup’ makeup look, the booming skincare lines to non-surgical aesthetic treatments, the beauty industry is steering towards a natural look. Women are no longer seeking frozen features, unnaturally plumped cheeks and frozen features. We are welcoming a new beauty industry where brands are navigating the intersections of inner and outer beauty. Based in Harley Street, London, Founder of Your Health First Clinic, Sofia Bouzian, has spent the last ten years specialising in the field of aesthetics. Offering bespoke non-surgical treatments, enhancing beauty as well as reversing the signs of aging, Sofia has worked with thousands of patients, helping them find confidence and beauty in their skin.
“All women have the ability to succeed, the right to feel and be beautiful and valid, regardless of what stereotypes and patriarchal expectations say…”
Working in aesthetics, helping women amplify their natural beauty and reversing the signs of ageing is an extremely niche sector of medicine. How did your journey down this path begin? What inspired you to specialise in this area?
I studied medicine back in 1998 and worked in London for the public sector at the NHS and the Private sector in Harley Street, but it wasn’t until I assisted in organising professional courses in Harley Street that I began to expand my knowledge of the evolving world of non-surgical aesthetics. It really sparked an interest in me.
Since then, I have become highly experienced within the aesthetics field, and I have developed a bespoke non-surgical treatment and personal service enhancing beauty. I prevent and reverse the signs of ageing, carrying out procedures to the highest standard and rejuvenating my patients naturally, using the latest techniques in anti-ageing.
From a career in Spain to the UK, what were the cultural differences you experienced? How does the medical industry differ?
In the United Kingdom, people are much more formal, punctual and polite, and on the other hand, Spanish people are more laid back. It is well known that in Spain, people close their business at lunchtime to have their siesta and spend time with their families, while here in the UK we are open the whole day. This was a bit shocking for me when I moved back here in 2005, but I got used to it, and I always wonder why Spain doesn’t do the same.
In the aesthetic medicine field, you will most probably find Spanish people to be less worried and more relaxed than we are used to. The Spanish enjoy life to the fullest; they love good food, drinking, dancing, and music. Family is an important part of life, and changes within the family institution also affect business culture in Spain. The body language of a Spaniard is usually more animated, they use excessive gestures, hugging, and kissing in the initial phase of a business.
The pandemic led to the world going into lockdown – how did this affect your business? What changes did you have to implement?
Unlike other businesses, we had the privilege to continue working, as we not only specialise in aesthetic treatments, but provide other services like blood tests for people who couldn’t visit hospitals but were able to leave their house for urgent care at private clinics.
Most of the lockdown was spent doing Covid-19 tests and working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care, helping thousands with early detection of the virus.
People often turn to diets, exercise, and a nutritional solution to weight loss. What leads patients to aesthetics?
For weight loss, clinics offer a treatment called Cryolipolysis (cryo = icy cold; lipo = fat; lysis = dissolution), a non-invasive technique that provides a smoother body contour by freezing fat cells. Scientists came up with the idea for cryolipolysis by studying what happens to fat during frostbite. Fat freezes at a higher temperature than skin. The cryolipolysis device cools your fat to a temperature that destroys it while leaving your skin and other tissues unharmed. I have become an expert in this field and worked at one of the first pioneer clinics on Harley Street, offering the treatment since 2013.
Cryolipolysis is a procedure that eliminates stubborn fat, helping people lose weight and return to their normal life within just a few hours. It effectively targets problem areas, including your belly, inner and outer thighs, back and more.
Whether one decides to get treatment or not is solely their decision, however, treatment of any kind to enhance beauty is still addressed with a lot of negativities. How has the negativity around these types of treatments changed over the years?
I believe the negative aspect of aesthetics comes not in the use of treatments but in the abuse of it. As our understanding of the ageing process continues to grow, so will the products we use. Injectable treatments will be longer-lasting and targeted to all different layers. This will lead to a natural result, and the public will understand this better and won’t have the fear of looking treated.
What is the most fulfilling aspect of your job, and what is the most challenging?
Having a job that allows you to use the skills you’re most confident and proficient in is fulfilling, knowing that you can complete your work to your best abilities. The opportunity to further develop your skills while producing good quality work can motivate you to keep improving. I love treating people using dermal fillers and anti-wrinkle injections – those treatments are very gratifying as you can change someone’s appearance so quickly, and the gratification and the look on their faces when they see the end results are just incredible.
The biggest challenge is getting to know the patients, listening to them and gaining their trust and making them understand what other people think about how they look is irrelevant, making the patient confident and happy with their appearance. When your sense of pleasure and satisfaction are derived from comparing yourself to others, you are no longer the master of your own destiny.
Your focus is on outer beauty, but that interlinks with inner beauty. What does inner beauty and female empowerment mean to you?
To me, female empowerment means believing that all women have the ability to succeed, the right to feel and be beautiful and valid, regardless of what stereotypes and patriarchal expectations say. Focusing on the strong bond between us women rather than seeing each other as competition, actively encouraging and helping one another is creating this strong connection that will also inspire and strengthen you as an individual.
Empowerment means to impart power to someone who lacks it. It is given and not claimed. Sometimes that means lifting and supporting the women around you. Female empowerment means letting a woman decide by themselves the life they want to live, the path they want to follow and the way or the means to do that.
Beauty makes you feel good about yourself, it helps you feel like your true self, and enables you to do things you never thought you’d be able to… improving a physical trait improves attitude, personality, and self-esteem.
What advice would you give to someone considering getting treatment?
I will encourage anyone looking for treatments to do research and get a good understanding of the procedures available. Don’t abuse it by having more done than you need, having more done will lead to a fake appearance, treatments are to improve your look not change it.
Love who you are and how you look, because those who mind don’t matter, and those that matter, don’t mind.
What advice would you give to someone entering the medical field with a desire to venture into the business world? What do you hope people learn from your business journey?
Have a solid business plan, prepare for financial challenges, build a strong relationship with your clients, be frugal – remember you’re a start-up, Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and surround yourself with people that share your vision.
What mind and health exercises do you practise? What do you do after a day’s work to rejuvenate?
Before I start my day, I love going for a run in the park 3 times a week, early in the morning before starting my work routine. Being in contact with nature is a tamer option for staying healthy, but the joy of it is that it’s free, is relatively low impact, and gets you out in the fresh air. I also do high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and resistant training on the remaining 3 days.
I have also been doing intermittent fasting for the last 3 years, which consists of not eating anything for as long as I can. Usually, I fast for 16 hours, getting and burning energy from the body fat – you will be surprised how good it is for the body. I also drink a lot of water, I normally have my dinner (last meal of the day) at around 6:30 pm to 7 pm, I sleep early and do some touch-ups of my treatments, like B12 injections.