ALL EYES ON DR JULIA SEN
DLUXE Birmingham magazine speaks exclusively to Dr Julia Sen – an Ophthalmic Plastic Surgeon in Worcestershire – about her life and career here in the West Midlands as well as the revolutionary new Plasma treatments she’s launching this year.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to us today, so tell us a little about yourself.
I’m one of those very fortunate people who loves their work. Ophthalmic Plastic surgery involves the eyelids, tear drainage system and eye socket- very important for visual function and quality of life but the part of my work I enjoy the most is meeting people. My particular area of expertise is the treatment of skin cancers and reconstruction of the eyelids to restore their function and beauty. That’s where medicine overlaps with aesthetics and how I began my interest in cosmetic surgery.
I became an NHS Consultant in London 14 years ago but decided to come home to the West Midlands and I now work in the Worcestershire Acute Trust and Spire South Bank Hospital in Worcester. I am also the founder and director of the Midlands Aesthetic Clinic, a CQC registered practice based in Bromsgrove.
I dreamed of being a surgeon from the age of ten but decided on a career in Ophthalmology after seeing the impact of a 15 minute cataract operation on quality of life. It was mind-blowing! Then, during my postgraduate training I had another of those “wow” moments when I saw an Ophthalmic Plastic surgeon create an entirely new eyelid after skin cancer surgery resulted in removal of the patient’s original eyelid. This is the work that I love. Eyelids have the vital function of protecting our eyes but they’re a very cosmetically sensitive area. Eye contact is key to social connection and communication, so it’s very noticeable if something doesn’t look quite right or there is any asymmetry – never more so than now, when the rest of our faces are covered with masks! I’m sure it’s no coincidence that I have had more enquires about cosmetic eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) this year than ever before, also online meetings have forced us to look at ourselves on our computer screens for long periods of time and has made many of us much more self-conscious.
You have the surgical and aesthetics side, is there anything you specialise in?
I have taken skin cancer surgery to the next level and trained as a Mohs surgeon. I am one of only a few Ophthalmologists worldwide to perform this highly specialised surgery and I get invited to talk about it at conferences.
As a specialist in eyelid skin cancer, what should people be looking out for?
Unfortunately, it’s surprisingly common. It’s caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, the same wavelengths of sunlight which cause sunburn. The fairer your skin, the more likely you are to develop one. They tend to develop later in life, but I’ve seen them in people in their early 30s, particularly those who have grown up in a hot climate, those who spend a lot of time outdoors and in sunbed users. The majority of skin cancers do not metastasise (spread to other parts of the body) and are therefore not life-threatening but melanoma is a highly dangerous form of skin cancer and I recently lost someone important in my own life to it, so I want to raise awareness of the importance of sun safety and I strongly discourage the use of sunbeds.
There is lots of information about skin cancer, how it is treated and how to reduce your risk of developing it on my website, www.drjuliasen.co.uk. I also work closely with Consultant Dermatologist, Dr Sonal Singh at the Midland Aesthetic Clinic. We are able to diagnose and remove suspicious skin lesions, or indeed any undesirable skin lump or bump. The NHS is not always able to offer this service if the lesion is not a suspected skin cancer so the Midland Aesthetic Clinic provides this service.
Can they come to you directly or do they have to go through a GP?
No referral is necessary. Appointments can be booked online via my website or the Spire South Bank website. This eliminates any delay which might otherwise be incurred waiting for a face to face consultation with a GP which are in short supply at the moment.
What inspired you to open your own clinic?
I am incredibly proud to work within the NHS, never more so than during this last year but there are services that the NHS is no longer able to provide and some areas such as aesthetic work which is in high demand but is unregulated in this country. The Midland Aesthetic Clinic is labour of love. We are able to provide a wide range of services, from skincare advice and treatment of problem skin through state of the art cosmeceutical facials and non-surgical aesthetic procedures (toxins, fillers, HIFU, etc) right up to surgical interventions such as mole removal and eyelid surgery.
Tell us a little bit more about the clinic and the Dr Julia Sen experience: what makes it different to others?
The Midland Aesthetic Clinic has CQC healthcare provider status; very few clinics providing aesthetic care are CQC registered but this gives our clients the reassurance that their comfort and safety is our number one priority. The experience starts before their first visit to the clinic. Prospective clients can contact me via my website to and let me know what they are looking for. I send a questionnaire and helpful written information where possible. When they walk through our doors they are greeted with smiling, welcoming reception staff, a spotlessly clean clinic environment and I do everything I can to reassure them that they’re in a safe pair of hands and that they can tell me exactly what their aspirations are. We then go through the various options and I’m always honest about what is achievable and what I think will benefit them the most. They then have as much time as they want to consider whether they wish to proceed. Following treatments or surgery I am readily contactable for support, which is really important. Building a relationship of trust is vital. Many of my clients who have had been under my care for medical problems now come to see me for their aesthetic treatments because they trust me and feel relaxed in my care. I love building that connection. Many of my clients are now old friends (although obviously they all look fabulous!)
What is the newest and most innovative treatment that you have on offer?
The latest exciting addition to our menu is Plasma. No, not the blood derivative! Plasma is ionised gas which conducts electricity. The energy created when it comes into contact with the skin can be used to kill the bacteria found on acne suffers’ skin; to ablate and tighten the skin surface or to deliver substances such as growth factors, botulinum toxin and even fillers without having to inject them, by transiently reversing the skin’s barrier function. We have launched the Stem Cell Plasma Facial which combines this technology with the Stem Cell derived Calecim serum. This rejuvenates by stimulating the skin renewal cycle which normally slows with age. It is the most comfortable rejuvenative procedure I have ever experienced; no needles, swelling or bruising. No downtime at all, in fact!
So outside of your professional career, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Ballroom and Latin dancing with my fabulous dance partner, Tim. It’s brilliant exercise and a great stress-reliver. I also love walking and cycling; in the West Midlands we have so much stunning countryside around us. It has been such a blessing during lockdown. I love to try anything that involves learning a new skill, especially if it takes me out of my comfort zone – I’ve even had a go at stand-up at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival! I believe that throwing yourself into something a bit scary keeps you growing as a person and helps you realise your full potential. My friend Magnus went open water swimming on Christmas Day and in a fit of enthusiasm I promised to join him next year. Oh dear!
If people wanted to find out more about what you do, how can they get in touch with you or arrange a consultation?
I would recommend that they visit my website. You can read about various conditions, order products, including a prescription only Eyelash Growth Serum (that really works!) There is also a lifestyle section where I write a monthly wellbeing blog and colleagues who are experts in their own fields write about topics they are passionate about. There’s something for everyone!
What are you looking forward to in 2021
Having been locked down for so much of this year, I have reflected on what is most important and conducive to happiness in my life. So in 2021 I plan to invest more time with the people I love, to give my mind and body the nutrition, exercise and rest that it needs, and of course to ……KEEP DANCING!