There are exceptional scientists in all fields, and then there are the truly outstanding specialists in their unique fields. Dr Desmer Destang is one such individual, having been highly regarded as one of the finest orthodontic and oro-facial orthopaedic specialists to work in the Caribbean today. In order to find out more about this brilliant doctor’s work, we chartered her journey to get to this point.
A true trend-setter, Dr Destang has been a lifelong learner, having earned master’s degrees in a number of subjects and created a handful of successful businesses, where many would settle for just one. Unrelenting in her pursuit of excellence, Dr Destang continues to push the limits and set the bar at new heights for those entering the industry. Her journey towards this level of exceptional service began at the University of the West Indies on the island of Trinidad and Tobago in 1995, where Dr Destang obtained her Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree. Now, more than twenty five years later, the good doctor is being recognised for her truly outstanding work in Acquisition International magazine, and rightly so.
Orthodontics and aesthetic medicine are two interrelated, but starkly contrasting fields. Having existed since the 1800s as a recognised science, orthodontics now has a great deal of evidence backing treatment techniques which are largely standardised. On the other hand, aesthetic medicine is a much broader field and largely unstandardized, as yet unrecognised as a specialty within medicine. Aesthetic medicine does however have several cross-specialty applications in both medicine and dentistry, though cannot be categorised as belonging to any specific field within medicine. Simply because it is not yet recognised as belonging to a specific field within the industry doesn’t mean that it is not applicable or helpful. Dr Destang has spent her working life believing that all clinicians should have some working knowledge of aesthetic medicine, with the ability to apply the necessary components to their practice.
In order to properly achieve this, clinicians with a true interest in aesthetic medicine should ideally undergo training programs involving both academic and hands-on instruction for at least a year, rather than the more common weekend-only programs. Dr Destang, a powerful voice in this community, is now also a key player in this industry. University programs across the world have begun to address this training deficit by covering aesthetic medicine. Dr Destang herself, having received this University-level training, has been instrumental in imparting this knowledge upon other upcoming aesthetic physicians and clinicians as a university tutor in aesthetic medicine.
Supporting her base knowledge in aesthetic medicine and orthodontics, Dr Destang has also undertaken a number of degrees all over the world in a wide variety of subjects. Cementing her status as a lifelong learner, she has furthered her knowledge in this areas, as well as others, with master’s degrees include Business Administration, Orthodontics, and Dermatology & Aesthetic Medicine. Dr Destang’s passion and ability to intertwine such diverse interests is inherited from her parents, both of whom are teachers and businessowners themselves.
Utilising her unique skillset and breadth of deep knowledge, Dr Destang has since created two successful businesses, each catering to a separate demographic of individuals. Firstly, her orthodontic practice, Caribbean Smiles Orthodontics, began a trend never before seen in the region. Capitalising on her business acumen and University knowledge, Dr Destang brought dynamic and colourful television and print advertisements to the Caribbean, forever changing the landscape of medical and dental marketing there. However, a last-minute specialty switch from oral and maxillofacial surgery to orthodontics meant that Dr Destang had already accumulated years of experience in a strong medical and surgical background. Using this experience, her second business was an early entry into aesthetic medicine in 2006.
At that time, the concept of aesthetic medicine was virtually unheard of in the Caribbean region, and another bold move from Dr Destang introduced it. In 2007, she founded and created the Dermalogics Laser & Aesthetics clinic, providing treatments in laser hair removal, botulinum toxins, dermal fillers, and other treatments that became highly popularised in the mid-2000s. Unknown to her at the time, Dr Destang then joined the ranks of the few dental practitioners offering aesthetic treatments. As learned as she is, the good doctor quickly caught on and realised her advantage – most medical practitioners at that time did not possess sufficient practical knowledge of facial anatomy and innervation. Dermal fillers in that age were not pre-mixed with anaesthetic, resulting in painful injections done under topical anaesthetic creams.
Both of Dr Destang’s clinics could not be more different. Caribbean Smiles Orthodontics is a radiant, colourful, vibrant, and fast-paced workplace, simultaneously functioning as a centre of exceptional orthodontist work and being fun for kids. Every day is different, bringing with it progressive changes in dental and facial aesthetics, all whilst making remarkable changes in the lives of the patients who come in. Dr Destang’s work is more than medically impressive; it is radical in the way it boosts confidence and makes a permanent change in people’s lives. Days spent in the Dermalogics Laser & Aesthetics clinic are different again, not least in setting and atmosphere. More relaxed, spa-like, and significantly less strenuous, the work of an aesthetic physician is also different for the results it generates. Dynamic, exciting, and more visual than the orthodontic corrections, there is far more scope for creativity in aesthetic medicine whilst still following the rules of safety.
Harking back to her days focusing on maxillofacial surgery, Dr Destang’s aesthetic medicine work draws on her extensive knowledge of facial anatomy, but also incorporates her wealth of experience as an orthodontist. Marrying the two together, the background has helped tremendously in the planning of facial sculpting and transformations. Skin is like an artistic canvas, and Dr Destang is a masterful artist. However, for all the passion and excitement across the two businesses, there are also challenges. Taxing on the brain, and sometimes confounded by the complexity and unpredictability of the human body, Dr Destang has to almost constantly make split-second decisions on the best decisions for each patient, taking into account a myriad of variables.
There is also the successful management of patient expectations. Aesthetic medicine focuses on non-surgical treatments to improve facial or body aesthetics. Results, therefore, will not equate to surgical results, and early recognition of this limitation has ensured that Dr Destang has remained updated with surgical techniques to compliment her non-surgical treatments. Yet, through it all, the approach to patient management remains the same; working tirelessly to deliver the best aesthetic results possible for every patient.
Determined to reduce the pain levels for her clients and patients, Dr Destang capitalised on her knowledge of the application of both intraoral and extraoral facial nerve blocks. In doing so, she was able to ensure that patients could undergo pain-free treatments. Her orthodontic and surgical knowledge also proved beneficial, especially given facial analyses and identification of key facial points involved in anti-aging facial sculpting. However, despite her strong foundation in facial aesthetics, Dr Destang realised a critical weakness in her training – the skin. After several years of successfully running her two businesses, she decided to train with Dr Zein Obagi, one of the leading experts in aesthetic skin transformations.
Through her time spent with Dr Obagi, Dr Destang was able to comprehend the complexity of the darker skin tones that Caribbean people have. Applying several principles of cosmetic dermatology, she was able to realise the unpredictability of darker skin tones, even when traditional and textbook treatments were recommended and applied. Armed with this new level of knowledge from Dr Obagi, Dr Destang returned to her work with the new goal of refining protocols to increase the predictability of her treatment outcomes for skin of colour.
Working alongside a team of like-minded academic physicians, medical aestheticians, skin care formulators, and experienced skincare representatives, Dr Destang began to discover and better understand the behaviour of darker skin when subject to cosmetic treatments. Through her partnerships with these industry experts, Dr Destang was also able to modify and refine skin care treatments better tailored for her Caribbean demographics. This commitment to a better understanding and more effective range of aesthetic skincare products and protocols resulting in the creation of Melanopeel Skin Clarity System. In the Caribbean, and other selected clinics all over the world, Melanopeel has become synonymous with top quality, effective, and powerful dermatological skin care for all skin colours and tones.
Striving to improve her protocols and products all the time, Dr Destang was one of the first clinicians to endorse and publish works on the safety of medical micro-needling on darker skin tones in 2011, at a time when it was virtually unused on skin of colour or acne scars and hyperpigmentation. To further cement and enhance her learning, Dr Destang then went on to pursue a master’s degree in Practical Dermatology from Cardiff University, and a master’s degree in Aesthetic Medicine from Queen Mary of London University, graduating with Honours.
Education has played a key role in both of the businesses that Dr Destang has founded and led since their creation. For both herself and her staff, education has provided a strategic and competitive advantage over others in the industry and in the Caribbean seeking to do similar things. Without this constant education and learning, it would have been impossible for Dr Destang’s medically based clinics to survive, let alone thrive in the manner they have. The good doctor has taken this to new levels though, developing proprietary techniques and supporting educational programs that have been specifically created for a unique setting within orthodontics and aesthetic medicine.
That same emphasis on education extends to Dr Destang’s staff teams at both of her businesses also. The pool of staff already trained in either orthodontics or aesthetic medicine across the Caribbean is virtually non-existent, and so training is vital despite the challenges it presents. Dr Destang remains as positive as ever though, overcoming these challenges through persistence and choosing the right personalities to join her on her mission of bringing top quality orthodontics and aesthetic medicine to Saint Lucia and beyond. Leading by example, she maintains a high energy and fast-paced environment of learning, leaving little time for idle hands and instead promotes productivity.
Looking ahead to what comes next, the future remains brighter than ever for Dr Destang and her two businesses. Her diverse educational background in business management, aesthetic medicine, and orthodontics has been used wisely on innovative research and teaching the next generations of clinicians. Serving as a senior faculty member with the American Academy of Aesthetic Medicine, and also as a founding tutor of Cosmetic Medicine with the University of South Wales, Dr Destang’s desire to see these treatments pioneered all over the world is insatiable. Her teaching style is committed, and aims to motivate other aesthetic practitioners in practicing responsible aesthetic medicine, as well as realising their own goals of becoming truly great aesthetic physicians and clinicians.
It is these academic aspects of Dr Destang’s journey that her future aspirations focus on. Having already been fortunate enough to present to hundreds of physicians all over the world, she shows no signs of slowing or stopping any time soon. 2020 will also see the release of the third edition of the highly-regarded medical textbook, Procedures in Cosmetic Dermatology: Chemical Peels, which includes new and valuable material from Dr Destang as one of the authorities in the field. As for the practicalities of her work, both in the Caribbean and internationally, Dr Destang is currently in collaboration with a global team of clinicians working on chemical peel products and protocols for darker skin tones.
Ultimately, Dr Destang is a remarkable woman, pioneering research that has impacted so many people in life-affirming and positive ways. Orthodontics and aesthetic medicine may be interrelated and relatively new fields of study, but this doctor’s desire to bring about lasting change is truly admirable. Dr Destang’s thirst for education, and drive to see that education put to good use for the betterment of people everywhere is inspiring, and she is fully deserving of this latest success.