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Belo at 26: Victorious Belle |


Belo at 26: Victorious Belle

NEW BEGINNINGS - The Philippine Star

Vicki Belo, doctor to the stars, was bullied when she was a young girl; her classmates called her “fat” and “adopted.” Those were not accusations. They were facts of her juvenile life. Facts that shamed her spirit and made her feel ugly deep within. “One day,” her always curious-mind told the young Vicki, “I will make it a fair world. Everybody will be beautiful.”

For almost 26 years now, Vicki has seemingly never reneged on her promise to develop ways to make one beautiful. In 1990, she put up a 40-sq.-m. dermatology clinic at Medical Towers in Makati City, a rather small clinic for a lady doctor who had big dreams. Two weeks after she opened her clinic, singer Regine Velasquez went to her to consult about the former’s stubborn pimples on her back. Vicki treated the singer’s skin complaint with glycolic acid. And boom — the next thing Vicki knew, Regine was on the boob tube, acknowledging the doctor at the end of her show: “Thank you, Doktora Belo.” Other celebrities like Rosanna Roces followed suit. And, like a legend, Belo was to become a household name. Slowly, Vicki erased the concept of beauty shaming.

Her claim to fame when she was starting was “I brought the first skin laser machine to the Philippines.” She adds with that crusty laugh, “I bought it using the money of my dad.” There was nothing that her parents would not give her, after all she was the only child of Ike Belo, a lawyer; and Nena, a businesswoman who owned a travel agency. (Her parents also taught her to give back. So, Vicki supports Tony Meloto’s Gawad Kalinga. “I learned from Tony Meloto this thought: ‘If you want people to stop behaving like animals, you have to stop treating them like animals.’ So we give them shelter.” Last Christmas season, Vicki, through the All Smiles project, acted as Santa Claus to children with cleft lip and cleft palate.

Vicki has introduced many technological breakthroughs in the Philippines in her 11 branches, with three more clinics opening at Shangri-La Mall, Mall of Asia and Rockwell this year. She keeps the original branch “because it brings me luck.” It is also the branch that sells Belo Essentials, the beauty products component of the Belo Medical Group that is helmed by her daughter Crystalle Henares. From a few treatments and 10 products, the medical group now offers 75 kinds of treatments (including Revlite, Exilis, Thermage and laser hair removals) and 120 products (like ZO anti-aging, Belo Acne Set, Botox 1 and Fillers).

“I started with only four of us in the clinic — me, my best friend who is also a doctor, a cashier and a receptionist. Now, we have 450 people in the company and 30 of them are the best doctors in the field,” Vicki beams. She adds that they have 30,000 satisfied clients in their database.

From one skin laser machine, Vicki is adding more ways (and machines) to fulfill her goal of “making the Philippines the most beautiful country in the world, one person at a time.” She is constantly inspired to make weight loss and skin solutions simpler and more available to everyone.

* * *

The year has just started and Vicki is all fired up to deliver the good news in beauty and skincare. She talks about it like a beauty messiah who has found the secrets to the fountain of youth.

At the forefront of her beauty fleet is the machine called ThermiLift. She has yet to make a formal introduction of this technology next week but already, she says, many women have been agog about it. “It’s a non-surgical and minimally invasive procedure that uses RF (radio frequency) energy and it is good for tightening the skin. The RF energy is delivered using gentle strokes underneath the skin, heating it up to a desired temperature to induce collagen formation. The result is tighter and firmer skin,” says Vicki, president and medical director of the Belo Medical Group.

ThermiLift, Vicki says, will make facial skin supple again, like baby skin. “The technology makes the pores of the skin smaller. Wrinkly parts of the body are also benefited by ThermiLift because it makes them smooth and tight. It’s also good for elbows and knees; and it’s also good for sagging armpit skin,” says the beauty expert who finished her pre-med at UP Diliman and her proper Medicine at the University of Santo Tomas. She later got her diploma in Dermatology from the Institute of Dermatology in Bangkok. She also studied Dermatologic and Laser Surgery at the Harvard Medical School in Boston and at St. Francis Memorial Hospital in the University of California in San Francisco.

Vicki is also introducing Fotona 4D, another laser machine  that “treats both the exterior of the face as well as the interior cavity. The treatment lifts, tightens, plumps and improves skin texture and provides wrinkle reduction on the skin.” It is also called NightLase therapy because it can reportedly treat one’s problem with snoring.

“As we age, our facial muscles become heavier, pulling our face down. They become flat and long and heavy as we become older. Fotona 4D addresses that problem,” reveals Vicki.

V-Contour, on the other hand, is an injectable procedure that is said to help dissolve the facial fat. According to Vicki, this procedure — its technology was developed in Israel and Brazil — has no down time, no swelling.

She is also introducing Aquagold Fine Touch, a unique micro-channeling delivery system that uses gold micro needles that are thinner than a hair strand to stimulate the dermis while introducing vitamins, filler, neuromodulator among other healthy substances that smoothen, tighten and revitalize the skin.

Next in line is the GentleMax Pro (G-Max), a laser system that treats pigmented and vascular lesions. “It also treats varicose veins around the ankle,” says Vicki.

And lastly, Vicki is proud to introduce the machine that will end baldness among many Filipinos. “The NeoGraft Machine is a follicular unit extraction hair transplant machine. It is the first FDA-cleared follicular unit harvesting and implantation system that delivers excellent hair transplant results,” Vicki explains.

* * *

Next week, Vicki will receive an award from PeopleAsia magazine as one of the People of the Year. She cannot help but reflect about the beautiful direction her company is going to.

“Looking back, the journey was hard,” she recalls. She was attacked left and right; questioned “What kind of doctor are you?”; dismissed as a fad.

She held on to her faith in God and the resolute will that she would succeed. “I treated myself like a horse — I worked hard and covered my eyes so I would not see distractions and be focused along the way.” She won the race.

“The people who used to put me down came to congratulate me on Belo’s 25th anniversary last year. They thanked me for revolutionizing dermatology in the Philippines, for making it accessible,” she says.

“Now, everybody is doing what I have been doing since 1990. But we have to be ahead. I don’t like to be the same with others,” Vicki adds.

Undeniably, Vicky introduced the public to a paradigm shift. Before, people went to dermatologists to treat their pimples, acne, an-an, among other skin problems. Now, people want to go to dermatologists because they want to stay gorgeous and beautiful.

“I always wonder why I work so hard. I always feel I am on a race and I have to keep running otherwise somebody’s going to catch up.”

Is she ready to slow down, knowing fully that she has achieved so much, more than what she dreamed of?

“I’m competitive. I’m not ready to give my crown away. Until I am at peace with someone overtaking me, only then I will give up,” Vicki concludes with a hearty laugh.

The ThermiLift machine.


(For your new beginnings, please e-mail me at I’m also on Twitter @bum_tenorio and Instagram @bumtenorio. Have a blessed Sunday.)

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