Dr Cat Stone’s mantra, ‘grow younger’, is for mind, body and spirit.
Growing younger may sound like a contradiction for those who are witnessing the gravitational pull of ageing, but there’s conviction in Dr Catherine Stone’s catchphrase. At 45, the cosmetic doctor is glowing – and it’s more than skin deep.
As the owner of Auckland medical spa The Face Place and a well-versed wellbeing author, Dr Cat, as she’s affectionately known, has committed herself to inspiring confidence in others. It all began with an open mind when she was at medical school in Dunedin. “I had grand designs on integrating Eastern and Western medical philosophies – a branch of medicine now called integrative medicine – but nothing of that type was available at the time.”
She went on to pursue plastic and reconstructive surgery, but says that when an opportunistic friend asked her if she could try her hand at Botox, “My first reaction was: ‘Why do you want to use that in your face?’” Dr Cat had used the botulinum toxin to help children with cerebral palsy walk by relaxing their muscle spasms, but was wary of using it for wrinkles in someone’s face.
Skeptical, she said she’d look into the cosmetic application for her friend’s sake, and was surprised by what she found. “I did the research, and realised it was safe and effective,” she says. “I travelled around the world training with the pioneers of cosmetic Botox and some of the top people in the world.”
Set off on a new career path, she launched Australasia’s first Botox-only clinic in 2001, followed closely by one of New Zealand’s first medical spas, The Face Place, in 2004. Nearly 20 years later, The Face Place has two Auckland clinics staffed by a 26-strong team of doctors, nurses and medical skin therapists. It offers a comprehensive range of non-surgical procedures, including injectables of Botox and dermal filler, medical skin treatments, and energy-based treatments for hair reduction and skin rejuvenation.
Caring for the whole person who walks in the door, The Face Place builds long-term relationships with its patients, tailoring personal treatments. “It feels like we’re seeing one friend after another all day long, and the bonus is that we’re helping them feel better about themselves,” says the expert.
“One of the biggest skills in our industry is learning when to say, ‘No, that won’t look good on you’, rather than treating everyone the same.”
As a Cosmedicine leader, Dr Cat regularly travels the globe, attending conferences and bringing back the latest techniques to share with her team, and the wider industry, in her role as a trainer. Having played a starring part in TVNZ’s 10 Years Younger in the mid-2000s and won Bauer Media’s New Zealand’s Best in Beauty award in 2016 for her Extraordinary Contribution to the Beauty Industry, she knows what innovations work best over time.
In keeping with New Zealanders’ more conservative approach to cosmetic medicine, where we avoid looking overdone, Dr Cat says the plumper look created with extra amounts of facial dermal filler is starting to deflate in popularity internationally. “The ‘big lips, big cheeks’ look is a trend that’s starting to die overseas – it reminds me of the shoulder pads of the ’80s and neon of the ’90s. In fact, in the ’90s big lips were in; just look at pictures of Jackie Stallone and Donatella Versace to see how that worked out!” It all comes down to proportions, which is why it’s so important to have a level-headed practitioner. “I’ve recently used 12 syringes of filler on a couple of patients who needed the volume, and still gave them beautiful, natural-looking results,” says Dr Cat. “I see people on Instagram using 2ml and making people look weird with overblown lips, with no regard for the proportions and harmony in the face.”
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If you have sagging and jowls, one of the first places to treat is often the cheeks and midface, as it replaces the volume that’s lost as we age. In younger patients, this can also include contouring. For men, the chin and jawline are the focus, instantly transforming the face for a more masculine appearance.Recently, Dr Cat has been working on total face rejuvenation using MD Codes. The planned-out points allow for a larger series of precise injections – architecture for the artistry of facial fillers. Overall, patients look younger, more rested and slimmer. “Where previously we were nervous about using more than two syringes in a session, we now know that we can create almost surgical-level results by using more syringes of filler, without the downtime of surgery,” she says. “Treatments can be staged over several sessions so there are small improvements, often looking like you’re just getting better with age.”
Instead of treating just one troublesome area, such as lips or lines, the full-face application addresses the emotional messages of the face, making us look less sad or angry and changing how we’re perceived. “It’s now less about chasing a specific line and more about how we help the patient look more attractive overall.”
With The Face Place named Best Botox Clinic of 2018 at the APAC New Zealand Business Awards, Dr Cat still can’t look past the power of Botox treatments for frown lines, which can also help lift the brow in some people. “When combined with Botox treatment to lift the mouth corners, we can reverse a ‘resting bitch face’ and ‘turn your frown upside down’,” she says cheerfully. Among other advanced uses, Botox can also assist in treating depression, tension headaches and teeth grinding.
In the lead-up to summer, The Face Place’s most popular treatment is Botox for excessive sweating. “Almost everyone we treat wishes they had done it sooner,” says Dr Cat. For those wanting radiant skin for the festive season, a course of Omnilux light-therapy treatments or the Vampire Facial Plus – an extension of the famous facial that uses platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections spun from your blood – will improve your skin’s texture and glow.
For Dr Cat, cosmetic medicine is about improving the full picture. Personally, she relies on rituals (including meditation, healthy eating and staying active) as much as trying the latest enhancements. This summer, she’ll be relaxing with a good book on a well-deserved holiday. “I work hard, so I don’t get to read much outside of work these days.” Hiking and new adventures, such as kite surfing and canyoning, are other ways in which she comes out of her shell when visiting out-of-Auckland friends and family over the break.
For get-togethers, she makes her Favourite Summer Salad (with strawberries, avocados and asparagus), which appears in her new book, Grow Younger with Great Food: A Guide to Healthy Ageing, Inside and Out. Co-created with nutritionist Jessica Giljam-Brown, the cookbook is based on the belief that food is medicine, helping readers make informed nutritional choices and enjoy food, both the preparation and the eating of it.
Having released the Grow Younger and More Beautiful as You Age guidebook last year, Dr Cat is dedicated to helping us work every angle of ageing to our advantage, from lifestyle to cosmetics. “When we’re happy, we glow, just as when we’re unhappy our light dims,” she says. “Part of my joy is helping people shine more brightly with their new-found levels of confidence and happiness.”
Dr Catherine Stone is founder of The Face Place and co-author of Grow Younger with Great Food ($39.95). Visit thefaceplace.co.nz.
Words: Jessica-Belle Greer
Photos: Carolyn Haslett
This article originally appeared in Simply You Issue 4 2019.