Aivee Aguilar - Teo: Beauty doctor with a heart
- Millet M. Mananquil () - February 15, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - On a typical day, beautiful people from high society, movies, television,fashion, business and politics — even fellow doctors — go to Dr. Aivee Aguilar-Teo. Her clinics at Burgos Circle in The Fort and at the Bellevue Hotel in Filinvest, Alabang look so elegant, these make you feel transported to a chic Parisian salon.

But make no mistake about it. Aivee is not just a favorite of the A-listers. This doctor proudly says her clientele comes from all walks of life. “I also have my charity clinic at Las Piñas Doctors Hospital where I get to see indigent patients. I give my full care and attention to every patient who needs my help, regardless of status. I like reaching out to different kinds of people. It’s a very enriching experience,” she says.

This advocacy of reaching out to people is not surprising since Aivee comes from a clan of well-loved public servants. Her grandfather Felimon Aguilar was mayor of Las Piñas for 23 years.Her father Nene Aguilar has served Las Piñas likewise as mayor for a total of 16 years, while her mother Imelda Aguilar was mayor for one term. Aunt is former Congresswoman Cynthia Villar who is a dynamo in livelihood projects while uncle is Senator Manny Villar who is described by his UP friends as the best president this country never had. Her cousin Mark Villar is currently congressman of Las Piñas.

Relaxing from work in a Lanvin dress: Aivee’s favorite shopping destination is Singapore, her second home. Styling by ERIC PE BENITO

With her gracious demeanor and lovable personality, Aivee herself could easily win votes, but she has embraced medicine as her calling. At present, she and her husband, the handsome and brilliant Dr. Z Teo, shuttle between the Philippines and Singapore where Z is also a renowned doctor. “I met my husband Z in Singapore when I did a fellowship training at the National Skin Centre.”

Then based in the UK, Z moved back to Singapore to be closer to Aivee.

Married for six years now with two beautiful boys, Z and Aivee explain: “Our family will always be our priority, but we also know that our careers are an integral part of our lives. So this is the best compromise for us, and we have the best of both worlds.”

PHILIPPINE STAR: What was your dream as a child?

AIVEE AGUILAR-TEO: Growing up in a family of politicians and real estate business, I thought I would follow in their footsteps. I didn’t think or dream I would become a dermatologist.

Wearing Roland Mouret: “Definitely, he is my designer of the moment.”

What made you decide to be a dermatologist?

Definitely not my choice. I was actually bribed by my father since he was desperate to have a doctor in the family. Being an obedient daughter, I willingly agreed to be THE one, not realizing taking up medicine entailed so much sacrifice and hard work. Of course, now on hindsight, I’m glad he forced me into it. I must say, parents really know best.

Initially, I was hesitant because I thought dermatology would be a boring field. However, in the midst of my training, I realized dermatology was becoming more popular and exciting because of the advances in lasers and technology and people started to become more open about doing beauty treatments and aesthetic surgeries. I then grew to love the speciality because it really complemented my personality and lifestyle. It was a perfect fit for me.

What’s the best part of being a dermatologist? The most frustrating part?

Definitely the best part is the gratification and satisfaction I get when patients see and appreciate visible, almost immediate results, how I’m able to make a difference in their lives by boosting their self-confidence.. Amazingly, my work has somehow allowed me to be a friend and confidant to my patients. The friendships I’ve established in my practice has been a great blessing and now many of them are like family to me.

The most frustrating part is when patients’ expectations are unrealistic. They think you’re a magician or worse, God — and they want you to do the impossible. I’m a perfectionist and I put a lot of pressure on myself to make sure each and every patient is happy. Over the years, I try my best to manage patients’ expectations so there will be no misunderstanding.

Brilliant duo: Dr. Aivee Aguilar-Teo and Dr. Z Teo

What are the most common skin problems you handle in the Philippines?

 The most common pathologic skin problem is acne and I think that’s still the bulk of patients in all dermatology clinics.

The most common vanity treatments requested from you?

The most common vanity treatments are anti-aging treatments like botulinum toxin injections, fillers, tightening lasers. I think everyone wants to grow old gracefully and we really put a lot of premium on maintaining our youthful looks.

What are the latest beautifying treatments you offer?

Currently, the latest treatment is non-invasive ultrasound heat and focused radio frequency skin tightening for the face. Body treatments are now going towards more innovative contouring technologies like cryolipolysis and focused ultrasound. The treatments that I am planning on bringing into my practice will be procedures, supplements or medicines that will go to the molecular level and even into the human genome.

I think the future of anti-aging/aesthetic medicine may be one technology, one injection or one “immortality” pill that will reverse the process of aging. That is the holy grail of anti- aging and I hope I will be able to offer that to my patients in the future.

How do you handle clients who become addicted to surgery/alterations and don’t know when to stop?

I am very honest with my patients. I would tell them nicely if I feel they don’t need a procedure especially if it will not look good on them or it’s too much. My patients appreciate it when I’m up-front with them. 

Ready for a dinner event in a perfect red Roland Mouret: “I'm a perfectionist.”

What was the most challenging job you’ve done?

The most challenging job for me is when I need to do complete facial makeover for TV/media personalities using multiple treatments in one sitting. Spending three to four hours with one patient requires my full concentration and knowing that I have zero margin for error makes it all the more challenging.

Have you ever turned down clients?

In as much as patients can choose their doctors, I feel doctors have the right to choose their patients as well. Having said that, yes, I have turned down clients especially those who have unrealistic expectations. I know that even if I give my very best they will never be happy. So it saves both of us the stress and unhappiness.

Which world celebrities are best examples of how science can improve our looks? How about the worst examples?

Demi Moore and Madonna are examples of celebrities who are aesthetically enhanced but still look natural. Jennifer Aniston does not look her age at all.

On the other hand, the Duchess of Alba was actually once a very beautiful woman! I think restraint is the key word. One must know when to stop. Anything in excess is not good. You must also find a honest doctor with a keen aesthetic eye who will do the appropriate treatments for you.

We wanted it to look like a French chic salon. I want my patients to feel comfortable and luxurious and not feel like they’re in a clinic. After all, most of them are not sick.</p> <p>I’ve grown to love French-inspired interiors ever since Z brought me to The Ritz in Paris for our anniversary many years back. It also helped that I had a talented interior designer, Leo Espinosa, who was able to translate my ideas into reality.</p> <p style=" alt="" />Do you and Z have any dream project? Perhaps a beauty spa or hospital?

Yes, we do have a dream project, but Z and I don’t really want to plan too much at this stage. We have learned to just take and embrace the opportunities that come our way. But coincidentally, I tend to open a new clinic after each pregnancy. I opened my Fort clinic at Burgos Circle right after my first baby and opened a new clinic in Alabang (The Bellevue Hotel) after my second pregnancy. So I guess our dream project may happen on my third or maybe fourth pregnancy? (Laughs)

How do you define your personal style?

Classic with a twist. I like to tweak the classic look with my own unpredictable style.

Who are your favorite designers and why? Your favorite shops? Your favorite shopping destinations?

Internationally, Roland Mouret is most definitely my designer of the moment. Locally, Inno Sotto is my forever love. He’s a genius and a very dear friend. 

My favorite shopping destination is Singapore because it’s my second home. I adore Lanvin, Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent, Bottega and Givenchy.

What makes a woman beautiful?

A woman who’s confident, secure and accomplished yet humble and compassionate is what I consider beautiful.

Anyone can resort to science for physical improvement, but at the end of the day, a kind heart, a good sense of humor, a great personality combined with a well-maintained face and body will be the ultimate combination. We should all strive to have both.

What makes a man sexy and appealing?

A good sense of humor, confidence and intelligence are both sexy and appealing in a man. 

What are your favorite travel destinations?

Z and I love the South of France, which we both find so charming and romantic.

I love Paris for the shopping, Thailand for the food and Singapore because everything works there!

What is the best investment you’ve made?

Our best investments are our beauty toys (state-of-the-art lasers and machines) in our Manila and Singapore clinics.

What would you never wear?

Trends that don’t suit me or my age.

What would you never buy?

Anything fake because you cheat yourself with the thought of being happy with a facade. It is also unfair to the talented designers who utilized his/her talent to create that particular piece.

Who are the women you consider stylish? Who are your idols?

Most stylish for me are Princess Marie Chantal of Greece, Queen Rania of Jordan, Carine Roitfeld and Carla Bruni Sarkozy.

 I look up to women who are accomplished both in their careers and family life. I have to give it to Victoria Beckham for having a successful career in spite of four kids and how she manages to keep her equally gorgeous popular husband still in awe of her. 

What’s the best beauty advice you can give women?

I always tell women — especially mothers — it is important to take care of our physical looks. Being married is not an excuse to look frumpy. Men are after all physical. Who says life is fair?

Be honest with yourself. Know yourself. Confidence comes from recognizing your best points and which ones you need to improve. And when you find it, do something about it!

What should women never do so they won’t look ugly?

Trying to look like someone else other than their real self. They should only aim to enhance their own natural beauty.

What’s the best grooming advice you can give to men?

Men should look like men. Good skin and personal grooming is always a plus factor.

What should men never do so they won’t look ugly?

Men should avoid having a beer belly. They should also dress according to their age and status.

How do you relax from work?

Traveling and spending quality time with my husband and two boys. My fashion magazines and chick flicks are therapeutic as well.

What books are you reading right now?

I’m now reading the life of Diana Vreeland.

Name three things on your bucket list.

 1. To establish my own charity foundation; 

 2. To have a daughter who will take over my practice (and my bags);

 3. To look 40 at 60.

 If you had the power to invent something, what would it be?

  A youth potion.

AIVEE BEST LEFT LOOK PATIENTS TEXT
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