PITTSFIELD — For Nina Silver, needles are legacy.
The resident of Pittsfield learned needlepoint and embroidery early in life from her mother and grandmother, who were deft out of sheer necessity from years in New York City sweatshops.
More than that, Silver came to know that needles save and give life, which she witnessed daily as a nurse in an intensive care cardiac unit for 15 years in Bronx, N.Y.
And, she points out, the needle can even rise to a place in high art. After nursing, Silver took her knitting portfolio to Parsons School of Design in New York City, where she earned a fine arts degree, while also picking up a minor in sculpture along the way.
The restorative needle
Today, Silver combines her passion for aesthetics and the restorative needle at her med spa, Silver Solutions, whose home on North Street beckons anyone in the region who is looking for nonsurgical facial rejuvenation.
“In my treatment room, I have the photos of a window display at Bergdorf Goodman, with handmade lace doilies on models and mannequins. I took those photos many years ago. It reminds me of my grandma. She taught me how to make those doilies,” says Silver. “And here I am, full circle, still doing ‘needlepoint.’”
The needlepoint she speaks of these days is, of course, cosmetic medical treatments, such as Botox and micro needling, but her spa does much more, including platelet-rich plasma injections, hydrafacials and vitamin therapies.
If you’re not sure what some of these procedures are, that’s OK, as Silver is ready and willing to explain the ins and outs of her most popular treatments, as she did with The Eagle recently during an interview last week.
At the heart of one of Silver Solution’s well-known therapies is a microscopic bacteria. Clostridium botulinum is not something you want in your spaghetti sauce, as it produces a potentially deadly neurotoxin. But, use that same toxin to disrupt messages between the brain and muscles in the body, and you have a beneficial medical aesthetics tool that’s proven to reduce wrinkles and facial lines.
Silver says the science has expanded greatly over the years, and there are now several name brands that she and clients rely on to look younger and rejuvenated (that’s right, she’s not only the business owner, but she also uses the same treatments personally).
“I use Botox, or Dysport, or Xeomin, cosmetic neurotoxins, which stop the nerve impulses to the muscles,” says Silver, noting the name brands of the age-defying prescription drugs.
Over time, facial lines can become “static lines, etched into the forehead.” Using some of these neurotoxins, Silver can help a client’s facial lines to relax and start to go away temporarily.
Looking like mother
Frequently, younger patients come in, starting to see themselves unintentionally mimic their families or friends facial expressions in their own faces, she says. These are “learned” expressions that can start at an early age, says Silver.
“They want to prevent those lines from happening,” says Silver. “I can give them a light sprinkling of Botox, more as a preventative. Women who actually have deeper lines in expressions, they need a more therapeutic dose.”
In about three to four months, the neurotoxins start to wear off, and muscle movement will slowly start to come back, says Silver. Maintenance visits occur at that time, and another prescriptive dose would be reviewed and administered, she says.
All prescriptive doses and treatments are reviewed in real time with a medical director and doctor, Silver says.
Restore your skin’s virtue with VirtueRF
VirtueRF is a treatment for skin tightening, and for improving its tone and texture. It employs a combination of radio frequency waves and micro needling on a patient’s sub-layers of skin, Silver explains.
“It’s not a facelift. It’s great for people who are just starting to have sagging skin. It’s great for acne scarring, too,” says Silver.
In this high-tech treatment, Silver guides 36 robotically controlled hollow needles, which work to shrink the subdermal layer of a client’s skin. “Have you ever placed plastic over a window to insulate it and used the heat of a hair dryer to tighten the plastic? It’s kind of like that, the simplified version of shrink wrap,” she explains.
“The needles create micro channels into the skin, in varying depths, depending on the area of the face or body treated, to stimulate collagen, and also strengthen the skin,” says Silver.
These needles don’t create any visible damage to the skin.
At the end of the treatment, Silver applies a cooling mask. The lights are lowered, and clients relax to the glow of Himalyan salt lamps and soft music.
“You will leave our office looking like you had a mild sunburn, and your skin should recover its natural tone by the next day,” says Silver.
These treatments are also performed at the med spa by registered nurse Priscilla Petricca, who has extensive experience using this piece of equipment.
Platelet-rich plasma, anyone?
For the uninitiated, platelet rich plasma is an additional treatment that some clients get while receiving micro needling. Platelet-rich plasma is taken from the client’s own blood, which Silver then places in an FDA-approved centrifuge. The speed of the centrifuge separates the blood, leaving platelets that contain growth factors, stem cells and proteins.
With PRP, as it’s called, when injected or micro-needled into the face, neck and decollete, the benefits are collagen stimulation “on steroids,” she says.
When injected into the scalp, PRP acts like “fertilizer for the follicles,” says Silver. These injections do not hurt at all, she adds.
Deep cleaning for the face
HydraFacial treatments are now offered in Silver Solution’s relaxing Himalayan Salt Stone Sanctuary. This water-involved facial treatment is “like a vacuum cleaner for the face” and creates an instantly gratifying glow in just three steps, says Silver: cleanse and peel, extract and hydrate, and fuse and protect.
HydraFacial is infinitely customizable for every skin type and is especially effective in treating acne-prone skin.
Master aesthetician Nicole Bandy performs the HydraFacial with a handheld wand that applies various solutions to open pores and removes dead skin. Its unique, patented Vortex-Fusion system uses a special wand tip and water to soften and vacuum away dead skin and gunk from the pores. HydraFacial even has its own hashtag, #gunkie.
Peptides and hyaluronic acid are introduced into these clean pores, and then it’s sealed with red LED lights.
“It cleans the skin like nothing else,” says Silver. And as wild as it sounds, “it’s not painful, either. People love this. They join the HydraFacial club, where you can purchase a multiple treatment series. It’s an affordable, popular gift item.”
After your treatment, Bandy will recommend a custom skin care routine to keep your skin healthy and glowing.
“We love ZO Skin Health by Dr. Obagi, and find that this medical-grade skin care line can be life changing,” says Silver.
Silver Solutions also specializes in dermal fillers and gels, which create lift, contour and shape to the face.
Over time, a person’s face can experience volume loss under the eyes or cheeks, lips can get smaller, and asymmetries develop and grow more pronounced.
“Everything retracts inward a little as we get older. Dermal fillers help correct and conceal some of those things,” she says. “They are sculptural tools that help when injected deep into skin, to lift sagging skin, or erase lines and wrinkles, and rehydrate the skin. It’s wonderful to replace volume and enhance. A person really looks refreshed afterward.”
This temporary solution will last from six months to a year and a half, depending on the facial area, type and amount of gel used and the correction needed, she notes.
Silver has about 15 different types of fillers, all hypoallergenic and consisting of hyaluronic acid, which occurs naturally in the body. Some are thin, like watercolors; others are like honey or syrup. Each is used differently for different parts of the face or body, “depending on enhancement or correction goals, which the patient and I have discussed during initial consultation,” says Silver.
“These fillers are my palette. There are a lot of choices,” says Silver. There’s no one-size-fits all or cookie-cutter approach, she says.
Silver Solutions also offers lipotropic and B12 shots, for fat metabolism and energy production, as an add-on with other treatments but not by itself.
Melding science and art
A former medical instructor and wellness coach at Canyon Ranch and the Ultrawellness Center, both in Lenox, Silver brings all her medical and arts expertise to bear when working with clients who are young, older and in between. To hear her speak of her work, you soon understand that it’s as much art as science.
“It’s like painting. Put some ‘color,’ and step back. See how it looks on the canvas, and then you add some more color if needed. I take my time, and set aside an hour for these types of treatments,” says Silver.
The beauty of the human face is in its uniqueness and its dominant feature, which varies from person to person, says Silver.
“One thing that I always think about is that beauty is unique. We’re not cookie-cutter Kardashians, where everyone looks the same,” says Silver. “Everyone has a unique Identifying facial feature, likes eyes, cheekbones or the shape of their smile.”
Looking at the whole face
When first conducting a consult, Silver addresses a client’s distinct features and studies the entire face.
“A lot of people don’t look at their face in a whole way. They look at things in isolation. They’ll say, ‘When I smile, this happens or that happens.’ I like to talk about balance, the global view of the face,” says Silver. “Also, I feel if something isn’t going to enhance that unique feature, then I’ll discuss why and realistic expectations.”
“We’re talking about shape and focus, heaviness, lightness and lift, looking at the face in three dimensions. I look at the skin, muscles, the strength of different muscles, to see if they are pulling on the face in some ways that might cause an unacceptable expression for a person.”
People can run hot and cold on their looks
She makes sure the clients aren’t jumping into a treatment, as humans can be fairly fickle about their appearance from one day to the next, says Silver.
“People never really see themselves properly. They look in the mirror and say, ‘I look fabulous,’ and the next day, ‘What happened to me? I’m a mess,’” says Silver. “I try to be realistic and honest in what can be done with my patients and limitations.”
Silver also helps patients keep track of their looks with before and after photos.
She will also advise some clients against any procedures, if she suspects they might suffer from body dysmorphic disorder — a preoccupation with a body part or looks — or if they’ve already done too much facial work in the past.
Not everyone gets treated
“I don’t treat everybody who comes into the office. I’m very aware of people who are body dysmorphic, or looking at their body in an unrealistic way. I have to dig a little deeper during consultations. Before you know it, I’ve uncovered that this person is majorly preoccupied not just about their looks, but about a lot of different things on a lot of different levels. It’s a red flag for me, because I have learned, from past experiences, that this type of patient will never be satisfied and never be happy with the corrections I perform for them,” says Silver, who doesn’t hesitate to make behavioral health recommendations if she sees someone who needs it.
Silver is a self-professed geek when it comes to medical aesthetics; she takes continuing education seriously, even enrolling in cadaver courses, in which she can inject and dissect the human body, to see down into the anatomy, and how the drugs affect its structures.
“When I first started injections in 2008, no one was talking about facial anatomy,” says Silver. Many aesthetic injectors have not had the experience working with plastic surgeons in operating rooms and seeing anatomy first hand. She says it’s vital, results wise, to know where all key anatomical structures are located, such as blood vessels, nerves and musculature.
“A lot of people think they can just go and get injections. People don’t realize this is serious medicine,” says Silver.
Her injections focus on multiple expressive facial muscles that control movements, and contribute to wrinkles and lines.
“Look at my Instagram, and see some of the asymmetries I correct. Clients have been overjoyed with their new looks.”
A perusal of that social media page shows many local men and women of all ages who have used Silver Solutions to noticeable benefit: more youthful, happy and glowing faces, full pouty lips and thicker, fuller hair.
Silver notes that some of “these are not permanent solutions” and not every patient will have “an overnight fix.” She advises clients to have a plan and a process, with priorities.
Some of the familiar dynamic expressions that Silver works on with clients are the furrowing of the forehead, frowning, squinting, clenching the jaw, gummy smile and unwanted lip movement, which give way to frown lines, chin creases, crow’s feet and bunny lines, and a tired or stressed look.
Essential employee, the ‘director of first impressions’
Handling “air-traffic control” at Silver Solutions is Office Manager Carey Hescock, says Silver.
“I couldn’t function without her,” Silver says. “Carey is the director of first impressions. Patients have said to me, ‘I just loved her from our phone conversation! What a lovely, kind person!’”
Silver says Hescock loves building a personal relationship with each patient and has a private check in/check out space where many of the patients feel comfortable enough to share life experiences with her.
“She keeps the MedSpa running smoothly and keeps me grounded and laughing,” says Silver.
Silver works with a medical director and has a network of nurse practitioners, who support treatment decisions and are immediately available if emergencies arise.
After a wellness pre-check, consultations are done in person, with personal protective gear in place for Silver, her employees and the client.
During in-person appointments, Silver wears an N-95 mask, and a shield or goggles. Clients have their mask off for only a short time during a consult or treatment.
“With the type of mask and PPE I’m using, we’re well-protected,” says Silver.
Silver will leave the room to prepare a treatment, no longer staying and chatting as in the pre-COVID days; she’s looking forward to that changing in 2021.
The office also conducts regular sanitizing, before and after clients, as well as sweeps with a UV light.
To schedule a consultation with Silver, call 413-441-8453 or email [email protected]. The Silver Solutions med spa has been in a fully renovated and beautified suite in the Central Block Building at 75 North St. since 2019; it was in the former Essencials Day Spa for years before that. For more, visit silversolutionsmedspa.com.
Silver’s downtown med spa has parking on North, but the office also has an entrance on McKay Street, with more parking behind the building.