Since the early 20th century, Gestalt psychology purported that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Today, it’s a concept being applied by some physicians as well, particularly in the realm of medical spas. Take for example Santa Barbara doctor Kathleen Griffin. Griffin is a board certified OBGYN who in 2007 decided create a center that not only treats internal anatomy but also focuses on a person’s outer packaging. She named her practice G Spa — the g referring to both the first letter of her last name and the medical field in which she works, with a wink to the female erogenous zone — and offers everything from facials to Botox to hormone therapy to annual pelvic exams.
“I’d been practicing OBGYN for more than 20 years, mostly doing gynecology for the past 15 years,” Griffin said in an interview with Aesthetic TV (aesthetictv.com). “I discovered a few years ago that it was very important to pay attention to women’s exterior as well as their interior.” This realization came when she attended a lecture by a well-known dermatologist who posited that when someone looks in the mirror and likes what they see, neurotransmitters (such as serotonin) are released giving the person a positive feeling. “I realized I could prescribe Prozac and raise neurotransmitters or I could help somebody feel better on the outside — or I could do both,” she said. And so, G Spa was born.
As for the spa, Griffin said “we try to emphasize non-invasive, non-surgical spa services, which is what most patients want these days.” Menu choices include facials, chemical peels, and fillers as well as lasers that achieve myriad anti-aging results. According to spa manager Cynthia Grancourt, “Botox and fillers are the best bang for your buck,” when it comes to looking fresh and youthful. “We do have lasers as well, we do hair removal, and we have this amazing laser called The Trinity,” she continued. “It is three treatments in one: the Photo Facial (which diminishes brown spots and sun damage); the Matrix IR, which is infrared and great for wrinkle treatments; [the] third part is skin tightening.”
Another machine in their arsenal is the Venus Freeze, which has gained popularity with the Hollywood set for its revitalizing results. The apparatus uses radio frequency technology with magnetic pulsing; it treats cellulite reduction, whittles away inches, and tightens skin. (Check out youtube.com/watch?v=p5No-yf-JTE for a demonstration of the Venus by Griffin.)
The spa treatments speak to Griffin’s desire to enhance people’s self-esteem. In an interview with The Independent, Griffin cited studies that link Botox and depression. Botox makes it more difficult to frown, she said, which means you can’t break the neural circuit triggered by the expression, leaving a person less depressed.
The G spa also offers a weight loss plan. “This is a program for patients who need to lose 20 or more pounds,” Griffin said. “I’ve been doing it since 2004…It was developed by a Harvard-trained obesity specialist and it uses very small dosages of two medication that suppress appetite — phentermine and topiramate. The topiramate has additional effects on your brain to make you feel full when you’ve had a small amount, it makes you not obsess about food, it makes you crave protein.” Patients lose about 10 percent of their body weight in about six months, Griffin said. “We give them some nutritional advice and we have a psychologist on staff that they can visit if they desire, and they are expected to exercise regularly. It’s all part of a package.”
According to the International Spa Association, the definition of a medical spa “is an institution whose primary purpose is to provide comprehensive medical and wellness care in an environment, which integrates spa services as well as conventional and complimentary therapies and treatments.” And it is to that end that the G Spa focuses its intent. “This is aging gracefully,” Griffin said. n
The G Spa is located at 33 West Mission. For more information, call 682-4772 or visit thegspasb.com.