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What Fashion Week is Like For a Botox and Filler Guru

"I've injected a 19-year-old [model's] lips, and I felt almost guilty doing it."
Jennifer Leebow. Photo: courtesy

Jennifer Leebow. Photo: courtesy

For some (or most), Fashion Week prep involves stocking up on portable snacks, cramming in as much sleep as possible and procuring new (and the most photographable) clothing and accessories, whether bought or borrowed. But for others, the lead-up to NYFW can also involve a freshening up of the cosmetic dermatological sort, a.k.a. botox and fillers to brighten, tighten and plump up the face.

"‘Tis the season!" says Jennifer Leebow, Director of Education for The LABB, home to the country's first "injectible-only" aesthetic beauty bar. Based out of Miami, the certified nurse practitioner of cosmetic dermatology previously spent 10 years prepping NYFW participants out of a high-end clinic in Tribeca and now travels the country training staff and other providers in the art of injectable aesthetics. And surprise: Leebow sees more clients preparing for NYFW down in Miami, as opposed to in New York. (Although, maybe that's not so shocking considering that Miami is often referred to as "New York South.") 

Kind of like a runway show producer, Leebow's NYFW-related busy season starts way before Sept. 6, but she took a moment to jump on the phone with Fashionista in-between appointments to discuss which treatments are the most popular, why Kylie Jenner is a strong influence in her work and whom she's treating (yup, models). Read on for the highlights.

Leading up to fashion week, what type of fashion industry clients usually come to you, and what do they usually ask for?

We definitely see a lot of our botox patients coming in anywhere from two weeks to a month out [because the results take anywhere between three and seven days to show]. Even if they want a light sprinkle — just to kind of lift the brow and create that more alert, awake and refreshed look, because it is a long week for a lot of the designers and a lot of the models. 

Believe it or not, a lot of our clients that attend Fashion Week are from Miami. A lot of our patients — models that are coming up for New York Fashion Week — are generally based out of Miami or Munich, Germany. So [the Germany-based models are] not traveling to Miami, per se, but they’re traveling [through] here for the shows. A lot of these girls show up a week or 10 days before the shows. They're just trying to create a very natural, refreshed look. Obviously with fillers that we work with, there's always a chance of bruising or swelling, so August is a big prep month.

What are popular treatments for the models?

A lot of the models, for photographing processes, love to have their cheekbones injected, too. It just kind of pulls up the upper part of the face. It's a very, very moderate and modest way to naturally enhance and kind of contour the upper part of the face. You look at someone and say, 'gosh, she's blessed with the most gorgeous bone structure.' We definitely see a lot of that in the suites around this time because these models are photographed from every direction. 

We usually start the process for volumizing the lips or smoothing nasolabial folds [in advance] because treatments are generally recommended in a series of two visits. I always recommend my patients to come two weeks prior to any of them because there can be swelling for up to two weeks from lip fillers. We use hyaluronic acid, which is a naturally occurring substance that your body naturally produces. It's like a sugar form. And depending on your hydration status, you could be holding too much water. Generally patients wake up in the morning and their swelling will start drifting down to lower extremities, so when you wake up, your face is a little puffier. So some of these models are having hair and makeup done at 8 am and 9 am, and they cannot be having puffy looks. And an ice pack is not always handy or the most [convenient] when you're having hair and makeup done. 

Do you work directly with the modeling agencies to send you their models or the models directly?

We do work specifically with a few agencies, but it's mainly because it's just word of mouth and the agents are actually very comfortable knowing that the models can create a little bit of softness. We don't really see any models under the age of 25. But over 25, the agents are a little bit more comfortable with some minor tweaks and just trying to maintain what they've been [doing] and how they're being photographed. Some models will come with very specific requests, like, maybe there's a little bit of asymmetry. 

What about people who are attending, like celebrities?

You name it, we see it. We have a ton of celebrity clients that come in when they're traveling to Miami or maybe they spend the winters there. I'll be honest with you — I see a lot of the girls that work behind-the-scenes in fashion from Miami. There's a few maybe top models that are no longer modeling in the shows, but I guess you would call them celebrities. They live in Miami, and we will generally see them this time of year, as well, but, I wouldn't say celebrities so much as the designers or people in background: the publicists, photographers and editors. Those that are working really, really hard during this time and are anticipating a very long week.

What do designers and publicists ask for?

A lot of my patients that are working in the PR world are absolutely looking for a refreshed, natural look. They want to look like the best them possible. Being photographed throughout these times, same with the designers, they're like, 'even if I have to walk three feet onto the runway, I'm worried about my dark circles.' So we have been doing some really nice tear trough treatments. It’s a very, very, very moderate, mild injection technique that covers the lower part of the orbital rim. Just generally dark circles come from inadequate blood circulation and flow to the area. So we inject a bubble that superficially lifts the dermal tissue off the bone and that creates a reflective technique and allows for blood vessels to not be in direct contact with the skin. It’s just re-creating that really refreshed look in the eyes. Crow’s feet are also really big and funny lines.

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How much has the demand for these treatments evolved in the last five years or so?

We are definitely seeing an increase demand in millennials who maybe weren't willing before because they were so scared of what their mothers or friends looked like having too much done too fast. So now the approach is different. The tech is different, and there is really something suitable for everybody.

You mentioned millennials, so how young are the pre-Fashion Week clients that are coming in?

We don't see a ton of models under the age of 25, but that doesn't mean I haven't... I've injected a 19-year-old's lips, and I felt almost guilty doing it. But you know what? It's how they view themselves. It's something that they want and as long as, as a provider, I feel like I'm not overdoing it. If it's a subtle change and that makes the patient happy, I'm OK with it. 

The whole Kylie Jenner lip craze has definitely driven a different population and demographic into my chair over the past few years. It's definitely gotten a lot younger and more hip and acceptable to be doing these things. All these young girls in fashion that are just out of college and are trying to keep up with the joneses and having botox at 23 years old... it's not uncommon because this is what they're surrounded by, and this is what they're reading and writing.

What differences do you see between New York and Miami in regards to pre-Fashion Week requests?

Believe it or not, we actually didn't treat a lot of models in New York. I treat a lot more models in Miami. For the 10 years I was in New York, everybody wanted natural. Natural, natural, natural. Miami, it's a very, very different clientele, where they will come to me with photographs of specific lips or cheekbones or jaws. They want to look more like a photograph, and they're willing to do whatever it takes to get there. 

So I think the clientele is a lot more "instant gratification" in Miami, whereas in New York they were dedicated to working with somebody to achieve the most natural results. And although they're being photographed frequently during Fashion Week, this a look they want to maintain year-round. The girls in Miami — the publicists, the models — they are definitely willing to do a little bit more and aren't worried about not looking like anybody can't tell, as long as they’re looking like their best self.

How would you break down the ratio of male versus female clientele for Fashion Week?

We definitely see more males in Miami, year-round, regardless of Fashion Week, but there was definitely an influx in male clientele both in New York and Miami pre-Fashion Week just because it's an event. 

Are the men asking for the same sort of treatments?

It just depends. The younger male clientele is looking for preventative stuff, like botox. And then the older clientele maybe has dabbled a little more with fillers so they're comfortable coming in and asking for [them]. A lot of my male patients are concerned about their nasolabial folds. 

Is there a such thing as an emergency treatment during Fashion Week? What would constitute one?

Maybe patients waited too long to come in [for fillers] and they're not happy with results, so they have to backtrack and break down the product so that they can go back to more of a natural look. Or they did too much. There's an enzyme that melts hyaluronic acid, and it’s called Vytrase. With fillers there can be bruising and swelling for up to two weeks, so we definitely don't recommend our clients in the midst of Fashion Week having any emergencies. We always like to see them before.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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