Medesthetics | March/April 2006 www.medestheticsmagazine.com | March/April 2006 Eliot F. Battle Jr., MD, and Monte O. Harris, MD, combined their ex- pertise in dermatologic surgery and facial plastic surgery to develop Cultura 4The New Face of Aesthetic Medicine.
The 3,000-square-foot storefront location in a busy Washington, DC, shopping area offers an integrated approach to rejuvenation that combines dermatology, cos- metic laser therapy and plastic surgery with luxury spa treatments. By Carol Phillips C onnection C ultura T ucked away, right o.. one o.
Washing- ton, DC 9s most prominent streets, is the brainchild o. two progressive, passionate doc- tors 4Eliot F. Battle Jr., MD, and Monte O.
Harris, MD 4the dual driving .orce behind Cultura. Doctors Battle and Harris met while lecturing at the National Medical Association Joint Session o. Dermatology and Plastic Sur- gery.
A.ter attending each other 9s lectures, they knew they had met .or a higher purpose. cI had been keeping an 8idea 9 notebook tucked away with my thoughts and plans .or the ideal medical business model, d says Dr. Harris.
cA.ter hearing Dr. Battle lecture, I realized the natural synergy between our philosophies. d Dr.
Battle vividly remembers the meeting. cWe each took out our business idea books and started trading in.ormation like kids trade baseball cards, d he says. cIt was as i.
both o. us Dr. Battle (left) and Dr.
Harris are involved in every aspect of Cultura. They 9re often seen helping patients or taking calls in the reception area. D Photo: Mike Morgan Photography had the ideal baseball trading ... more.
card collection with only one or two key cards missing.
One had the Babe Ruth and the other had the Rogers Hornsby. d Monte O. Harris, MD, is a board-certi ed and .ellowship- trained .acial plastic surgeon.
He is considered a pioneer in comprehensive cosmetic .acial rejuvenation .or individuals with darker skin tones. Eliot F. Battle Jr., MD, is a cosmetic der- matologist and laser surgeon.
He is regarded as one o. the world 9s premier laser surgeons and an authority on cosmetic laser therapy on darker skin types. His laser research at Har- vard helped to pioneer the new generation o.
sa.e, noninvasive cosmetic lasers. Unique Service Proposition One way to set your medical spa apart .rom the pack is with a connection to cutting-edge tech- nology. Being the experts on la- sers .or women o.
color has put Cultura on the media .ast track. Programmers are always looking to interview experts. Dr.
Battle has been .eatured in numerous magazines, including Time, and on TV shows such as Good Morn- ing America and 20/20 . cOne key issue we both knew in our hearts was that women o. color have been overlooked in the burgeoning spa market; yet women o.
color have distinct needs, d says Dr. Harris. cThere is a disparity in healthcare today .or women and especially .or women o.
color. d Cultura patients receive a 30- minute consultation with the doctor. cWe sit with them and really listen to goals and con- cerns.
It 9s amazing how quickly a patient opens up to us within the consultation. Many have nev- er had a doctor spend that much time with them, d says Dr. Harris.
cMost medical doctors do not have the luxury o. a 30-minute, .ace-to-.ace consultation, giv- en the state o. healthcare and HMOs.
d Cultura is a totally pay per service business that takes no insurance. A 30-minute con- sultation .ee is $100. cWhen we rst started the business we were a 60/40 split, with 60% o.
our patient base be- ing upscale, Caucasian .emales. As our reputation as experts on treating women o. color spread, the patient population began to shi.t.
We are still at a 60/40 split, but now 60% o. our patients are men and women who have A.ri- can, Latin, Middle Eastern, and Indian backgrounds. The sta..
refects the natural diversity o. their patients. cCultura is about learning what makes the skin unique, and how to treat the di..erences, d says Dr.
Harris. (On their service menu you will see Complexion Blending, which is not on many medical spa service listings.) Multi 1aceted Approach Cultura o..ers an innovative ap- proach to rejuvenation by inte- grating dermatology, cosmetic laser therapy and plastic sur- gery with luxury spa treatments. www.medestheticsmagazine.com | March/April 2006 Patients develop a relationship with the entire team o.
20 ser- vice providers, receiving skin- care product recommendations, aesthetic services, and then, i. needed, physician care. The Cultura Integrated Ap- proach (CIA) is a heart.elt mis- sion to help patients achieve the best aesthetic care, bearing no re- semblance the to the other Wash- ington, DC, institution with the same initials.
CIA combines phy- sician-directed skin care, nonab- lative cosmetic laser therapy and minimally invasive plastic surgery to assist patients in their desire to age grace.ully. This innovative concept was speci cally .ashioned to be sa.e and e..ective .or patients o. all skin tones and ethnicities.
The ve-phase approach be- gins with a computerized com- plexion analysis. This is .ollowed with recommendations on how to blend the complexion, reduce wrinkles, repair sun damage and treat other skin problems. Phase three .ocuses on pampering procedures that will lead to clini- cal results, such as customized .a- cials and peels, or body treatments.
Phase .our includes cosmetic la- ser therapy .or skin rejuvenation, hyperpigmentation, broken cap- illaries, hair removal and other conditions. Finally, phase ve o.- .ers minimally invasive approach- es to cosmetic surgery. The Cul- tura Approach .or surgical .acial rejuvenation consists o.
small op- erations packaged to rejuvenate .or areas where early .acial aging is most evident, notably the eyes, cheeks and neck. Accessible Positioning When the two met, Dr. Har- ris was teaching in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Dr.
Battle was at Harvard in Boston, but both were able to relocate to any city in the U.S. They considered Houston, Atlanta and Chicago, but decided Washington, DC, was the ideal city .or launching their dream. cOne thing that drew us to DC was that it o..ers a blend o.
cultural activities and outstanding universities, which is a natural parallel to medical science-based services and the so.ter spa aesthetic side, d says Dr. Harris. Cultura 9s location is within 10 minutes o.
Embassy Row, about 20 paces o.. Washington, DC 9s shopping mecca, at 5301 Wiscon- sin Avenue. The 3,000-square- .oot store.ront location was a .ormer day spa with a built-in reception desk, treatment rooms and retail space that saved the Cultura Connection The entrance at Cultura houses attractive displays of a wide range of medical grade cosmeceuticals.
ÿ Dr. Harris chats with two members of the medspa 9s ethnically diverse staff. D Medesthetics | March/April 2006 Ê The decor is modern, clean and attractive.
CIA combines physician-directed skin care, nonablative cosmetic laser therapy and minimally invasive plastic surgery. Photo: Mike Morgan Photography Cultura 9s store- front location is just minutes off Embassy Row in a busy shopping area. D Photo: Mike Morgan Photography Photo: Mike Morgan Photography Photo: Mike Morgan Photography Photo: Mike Morgan Photography doctors hundreds o.
thousands o. dollars on their initial build- out. You can park on the street or in the adjacent parking ga- rage and be at the reception desk within 20 steps.
Many medical o. ces have the cglass slider wall d and doctors are rarely seen in the reception area. Not at Cultura.
You .requently see both doctors behind the re- ception desk, escorting patients to the .ront to select skincare products or elding phone calls. Retail is one leg o. the three needed .or success.
Patients need medical-grade products to use at home that support e..orts in the treatment rooms. Both Dr. Harris and Dr.
Battle personally hand- pick the best o. the best. On the shel.
you will nd a wide collec- tion o. medical-grade cosmeceu- ticals, maybe not the entire line, but the ones they .eel will work the best .or their patient base. To- day 20% o.
Cultura 9s gross sales are .rom retail and Cultura will be launching its own brand o. skin care in March 2006. Business Acumen cRunning a business that is involved with medicine is di.
cult, d says Dr. Harris. cDoctors typically have not been trained in business and the - nancial people who are investing in medical spas typically do not know medicine.
I have the advantage o. having worked as an international marketing director at IBM be.ore going to medical school. d cOne key area that many people who are jumping on the medical spa bandwagon do not understand are the costs o.
setup and creating ongoing business, d says Dr. Harris. cThis includes your up.ront, get- ting in the door dollars and what it takes to create a revenue stream, especially i.
you are starting with- out a patient base. I. you have the luxury o.
a patient base, you still need to consider how much it will cost to convert them to medical spa services. We did not do a lot o. ad- vertising up.ront, because we didn 9t know what we were doing.
We want- ed to get in and get our .eet wet with this brand-new business model. We chose the slow and steady course vs. coming out with guns blazing.
It worked .or us, but we did not draw a salary .or six months while build- ing the business. d cOne thing we learned early on is that we had to become the experts, d says Dr. Battle.
cYou cannot totally rely on the educa- tion you receive .rom any o. your product and equipment vendors. You will need their support, but Cultura Connection 22 Medesthetics | March/April 2006 Spa amenities are eveident everywhere.
ÿ Photo: Mike Morgan Photography Photo: Mike Morgan Photography becoming the expert will take a commitment o. time and money to research and study all the in- .ormation that is out there on medicine, spas, medical spas, skin physiology, cosmetic chem- istry 4even retail management. d Dr.
Harris agrees and contin- ues, cThe true sign o. an expert is demonstrating that the under- stands his own limitations. Medical spa owners and physicians need to understand and educate them- selves on the medical treatments, risks, complications and their limitations.
As a doctor or medi- cal spa service provider you must learn when to say 8no 9 or 8enough is enough 9. We have turned pa- tients down when they insisted on procedures that we .elt would not be sa.e or appropriate. We are a boutique practice; we do not want to be all things to all patients.
We understand our limits and are very com.ortable re.erring out. d This is even truer .or physicians entering this arena who are not dermatologists or plastic surgeons, says Dr. Battle.
cGeneral physicians by no means have an in-depth knowledge o. skin. Dermatologists and plastic surgeons receive an ad- ditional three to .our years o.
spe- cialty training. In medical school they will teach you the medical pa- thology o. skin 101, but there is not a course on what to do to improve skin that is not diseased.
I serve as Assistant Clinical Pro- .essor, Department o. Dermatol- ogy, Howard University Hospital. The dermatology residents actual- ly do rounds in our practice, which a..ords them the opportunity to see real-world skin care, d he notes.
Both doctors advise those en- tering medical aesthetics to walk be.ore trying to run. cStart with a small, limited scope o. practice, d says Dr.
Battle. cBe somewhat nar- row-minded with how many pro- cedures you o..er. Minimize the skin types you are treating.
Start with lasers .or Caucasian and then work into the darker skin types. With enthusiasm, training and time, you can add procedures. You do not have to launch with a .ull- blown menu.
At Cultura all we do is skin. We do not o..er hormone therapy or weight-loss counseling. We will not become a wellness cen- ter.
This allows us to .ocus our re- sources o. time and talent. d Next Step It is apparent that both doctors have a burning desire to improve the industry.
They are treating pa- tients who have been misin.ormed or not in.ormed at all about the medical spa procedures they have experienced in other .acilities. cAs physicians, we are very scared at the evolution o. medical spas.
We want to help create a benchmark o. excellence, d says Dr. Battle.
The two will be opening a training .a- cility in some time this year, adja- cent to their success.ul, growing spa, to help standardize the qual- ity o. care patients receive. Carol Phillips is a CIDESCO Diplo- mate, a former day spa owner and found- er of EncompassOne Marketing Group, a strategic partner with MedicaSpa.
You can reach her at 703.753.8484 or visit her website at www.encompassone.com. Cultura Connection 24 Medesthetics | March/April 2006 On the Menu at Cultura The top fve services at Cultura are: " Facial hair removal, $350 ( 9ull 9ace and neck) " Facial complexion blending, $350 to $500 per treatment (comparable to light-based 9acials at other medspas) " Botox, $350 per site " Dermal fllers(Restylane and Captique), $600 per cc " Scar reduction treatments, $250 per 15 minutes For more in 9ormation visit www.culturamed.com . A spacious lounge includes lockers for clients who want to change into robes and slippers D Photo: Mike Morgan Photography Photo: Mike Morgan Photography