Reading Advocate

Sept. 29, 2011

By Steven Ryan

Even in a tough economy, one thing remains constant: People will spend money to look and feel good.

Hallmark Health hopes it can help people look good and feel confident with its new Cosmetic & Laser Center, which opened at its Readings offices on New Crossing Road this past June.

“When the recession was happening, people still went to nail salons and beauty parlors,” said Melissa Roberto, director of ambulatory services for Hallmark Health. “Even when people have difficulties, looking good, feeling good is important to people. When you feel good, your self-esteem is increased and it is projected in everything you do.”

The center was developed after the folks at Hallmark Health brainstormed uses for open space at its Reading building and developed the idea for the center. Unlike many places specializing in cosmetic and laser surgery, Hallmark believes having a registered nurse perform the procedures makes it a safer and more desirable option.

“Having Hallmark behind the venture, we can have the safety and quality behind it,” Roberto said.

Services at the center include laser hair removal, brown spot removal, spider vein removal and a skin -tightening alternative to Botox using the laser to stimulate the collagen in the skin. The center does also Botox for those who prefer it, along with Juvederm and Radiesse.
Roberto said laser hair removal is the center’s most popular service followed by spider vein removal and brown spot removal. The center sees a wide range of people, typically folks between 35 and 65. And not all the patients are women, with Roberto describing men as an area that “continues to grow.”

“You have people around 35 getting older and they don’t want to age and do a lot to prevent that,” Roberto said, noting the skin products the center sells as particularly popular among that group.
She touted the medical-grade, research-driven Obagi skin care products the center offers which is “anything Macy’s has and bumping it up a level.”

“You also have baby boomers who don’t want to age,” Roberto said. “They feel young and active and when they look in the mirror, they don’t like what they might see.”

In the future, the center hopes to purchase a second laser and perform procedures such as “Smartlipo,” which is a less invasive form of liposuction using the laser, tattoo removal, fungus removal, “lunchtime peals” and various other services.

“We built it out to expand,” Roberto said. “We are here to stay.”

Roberto pointed out the center works in coordination with the rest of the Hallmark Health system. It also active in promoting healthy lifestyle choices that would minimize the need for cosmetic treatments, promoting healthy habits such as applying sunscreen.

At the same time, the center is seeking to raise awareness of its services, first in Reading but eventually to surrounding communities, by offering discounts through local businesses and hoping for a word-of-mouth buzz, which Roberto said has already paid some dividends. She said she believes the center’s prices are competitive, while providing quality treatments.

Roberto did note the center does not accept insurance since the treatments offered at the center are not usually covered since they are cosmetic. But Jannique Holland, the center’s office coordinator, noted it doesn’t mean the services offered aren’t important.

“It’s not just fluff and buff,” she said. “It gets to the heart of one’s confidence and sense of well being. It feels good helping people get that confidence back.”

Lydia Pelletier, of Reading, went to the center for laser hair removal and she chose to go to the Hallmark center because it had a registered nurse.

“The number one reason why I decided to go there was because it was a medical facility,” she said, noting she belongs to the Hallmark Health group. “If something happened, I was in a medical network.”

Pelletier said she would recommend the center to others based on her experience.

“They do things wonderfully in there,” she said. “I wasn’t surprised [about the center opening]; I was really excited.”

As for the importance of such services, Pelletier said the reasons for seeking such treatments depends “person-by-person,” while noting she did not seek out the treatment for cosmetic purposes. But based on the results, she would have sought the treatment anyways.

“There are benefits in the long run,” she said. “I don’t have to shave.”

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