The beginning of the pandemic proved to be quite a challenge for all of us. The Belo Medical Group was placed in the same category as barber shops, as opposed to spas, which was a bit unfortunate because it took some time for the government to allow us to resume operations. During that time, we made the most of the situation by offering patients home care kits, so that they could maintain their regimens safely in the comfort of their homes. Our clinics may have been closed, but my work as a doctor continued as I lent my expertise and tried as much as possible to help those in need.
It was an honor for me to have been invited to join a team of select international experts in the dermatological field to establish guidelines for derma clinics to properly reopen their spaces to the public, keeping in mind all the safety protocols necessary to keep their patients safe, comfortable, and in the best hands.
The challenges made it difficult for us to continue our mission to improve the lives of those who sought our treatments. When we were finally allowed to open, we suddenly needed to replenish personal protective equipment, syringes, and masks after having donated the bulk of our previous stocks to frontliners who desperately needed the items during the height of the pandemic. Replenishing stocks for our personnel at that time required us to shell out almost ten times as much in expenses due to an unprecedented price surge.
The mental torture was admittedly tough, and at one point, I almost felt like giving up. But it was my trust in God and His plans that gave me the strength to carry on.
We have fortunately come a long way since March 2020. Revenge beauty is on the rise, and we’re seeing a surge in the number of surgical procedures being done.
Pre-pandemic figures showed that 80% of our patients opted for non-surgical procedures while 20% turned to surgical solutions. Today, the trend is leaning more toward surgical procedures, as the figure has increased to 60%. This can be attributed to the changes brought about by the pandemic. All of us were forced to interact via online platforms like Zoom where we were suddenly seeing ourselves onscreen more, this enabled us to notice certain aspects of our features we might not have noticed before. The effect? More and more people began to come into our clinics inquiring about and then deciding to undergo procedures like liposuction (on the double chin), blepharoplasty (a type of surgery that removes excess skin from the eyelids), and rhinoplasty (nose job).
Caring for our physical, mental and spiritual health will enable us to cope with the changing times.
The pandemic made us think out of the box and forced us to embrace the digital age with open arms. I credit my husband Hayden (Kho) for having the foresight to make Belo evolve with the times. The Belo Beauty Van is just one example of how we learned to cater to a whole new clientele — those who were still cautious about leaving their homes and allowing people into their homes as well. The Belo Beauty Van made it possible for patients to avail themselves of their favorite treatments in a safe environment (all Belo Beauty Vans come equipped with air purifiers, the same ones used at all Belo clinics).
More than ever, self-care has now become such a necessity, and I really do believe that caring for our physical, mental, and spiritual health will enable us to cope with the changing times. The Belo Clinic is my way of helping people engage in self-care by enabling them to realize and achieve their personal goals. When I experienced bullying over the shape of my body and my acne-prone skin during my younger years, it took a toll on my self-confidence, and that was what inspired me to become a doctor. I wanted to find a solution by taking things into my own hands. With increased confidence, I finally found happiness and no longer felt ashamed.
This has always been my goal in establishing the Belo Medical Group. I’ve always believed that when it comes to beauty, the less you think about it, the more beautiful you actually are and the more engaged you are with others, because truthfully, when you’re too self-conscious, the tendency is to retract from society and refrain from connecting in any shape or form.
I’m happy to share that things are really beginning to improve, as seen in what we doctors like to refer to as the “lipstick sign,” or proof that one is finally feeling better and more confident. This phenomenon has been observed in some cancer patients — when their condition begins to improve, they will start applying lipstick and proceed to take better care of their physical appearance.
More and more, people are able to appreciate beauty and its power to make you feel good on the inside.
Now that things are finally in steady motion, I’m excited for the next phase of the Belo Medical Group, which will entail an expansion of sorts, so that I can finally realize my dream of offering our world-class procedures outside the Philippines as well. We hope to be able to reach more people across the globe by opening clinics in cities like Dubai, where there is currently a high demand for the procedures we offer. I’d also like to see our Belo Essentials products in more households, as the line was created precisely to be able to reach all individuals regardless of the demographic they belong to. The line was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States, so something exciting is in the works as well.
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There will be a shift of focus from procedures we’ve been accustomed to in the past years. We’re veering away now from harsh treatments like peels to gentler, less invasive procedures that actually hone the body’s own receptors to help heal itself. The Belo Medical Group is investing more in regenerative medicine, because we know that the human body is especially equipped to heal itself, and regenerative therapies tap into this powerful ability. Regenerative medicine includes treatments like exosome therapy, a more purified and effective form of stem cell therapy. An exosome type of solution contains valuable lipids, messenger-RNA, micro-RNA, signaling cytokines and proteins, and this can be administered either through intravenous therapy or direct injection in the treatment area.
We’ve begun administering this type of therapy via our recently launched Belo Spheres, which essentially facilitates integral communication among cells so that healing can begin on a cellular level. It has really now become about skin boosting and infusing essential vitamins into the skin, as opposed to subjecting skin to laser resurfacing which we now know can be harsh and harmful to the skin when done repeatedly.
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After 32 years in the beauty industry, my goal of making the Philippines beautiful one person at a time still remains. The only thing that has changed is the approach in achieving this goal. The techniques are changing as we speak, and more importantly, the focus now isn’t on physical transformation alone, but on an all-encompassing makeover of the mind, body, and spirit, so that one can be nourished, comforted, and healed from within.