Dr. Jingduan Yang (Adhiraj Chakrabarti for American Essence)

Innovative New Cosmetic Center Takes Holistic Approach to Cultivating Beauty

In the ancient world, beauty was defined by harmonious proportion, where all elements combined into a satisfying, soul-stirring balance. It was an ideal to aim for, and a virtue to embody.

Today, there is a saying that beauty is only skin deep. With this notion, it’s no wonder why we see the pursuit of beauty as something vain and shallow, sometimes even ugly. But what ever happened to the more substantive and transcendent aspects of beauty that our ancestors believed were found beyond the superficial? A new plastic surgery clinic wants to help patients find it.

The project began with a grand goal: create a cosmetic surgical center with a deeper approach to aesthetics. Dr. Jingduan Yang has been working the past year to realize this vision.

Yang is no stranger to running a practice. He is currently the CEO of Northern Medical Center located in New York’s Hudson Valley. The center is a multidisciplinary integrative facility that features both primary and specialty care, such as traditional Chinese medicine, pediatrics, sports medicine, and more.

(Cara Ding)

Holistic Healing

Like Northern Medical Center, Yang holds a combination of medical specialties that lend to his holistic mindset. He began his medical career as an acupuncturist—he’s a fifth-generation practitioner of Chinese medicine—and then became an attending neurologist. Later, he was board certified in both psychiatry and integrative medicine.

Yang said he never imagined that his career would branch into the realm of cosmetics. But he wanted to find a way to help people transcend the often shallow reputation of the beauty industry, and embrace something more substantial. “We want to make a paradigm shift to help people to become healthier, happier, and more beautiful,” Yang said.

Dr. Jeffrey Yager (Larry Dye)

The new clinic, called SY Aesthetics, is set to open later this year. Dr. Jefferey Yager is one of the surgeons on the team. Last year, Yager was set to retire from a 26-year career in plastic surgery because he felt his job had become tedious. But Yang’s idea gave Yager new inspiration for his profession. He realized that there were elements that his previous work had been missing.

“Technically, my skills were such that I could repeat excellent results. But what I found frustrating was I could get the same result on several different people and have different satisfaction levels,” Yager said. “If their problems stem from a deeper emotional or traumatic event in their past, or a poor relationship with their partner, I’m not gonna be able to fix that, no matter how well I perform the procedure.”

In addition to offering top notch cosmetic surgery, SY Aesthetics aims to address the matters that the scalpel can’t touch, by providing treatment for the mind and spirit. The underlying philosophy of the practice is to treat what Yang and Yager call the four dimensions of beauty: structural, biochemical, energetic, and spiritual.

The first dimension, structural, is what every plastic surgeon specializes in. This is what we see at the surface that can be changed with surgical procedures.

But dive a bit deeper, and you’ll find the biochemical dimension of your body. Things like hormonal imbalances and nutritional deficiencies aren’t things we often associate with physical beauty, but Yang says these biochemical factors play a large role in how we look and feel. “These chemical components are what the body needs to sustain, to nourish, and to function,” he said. “Therefore, by supporting the chemistry, we support the appearance.”

Common herbs in traditional Chinese medicine: goji berries, dong quai (female ginseng), dong gua pi (winter melon peel), zhi zi (gardenia seeds), rougui (cassia bark), and dang shen (codonopsis root). They are used to regulate energy imbalances in the body, which can lead to a healthier, more radiant complexion, according to Dr. Jingduan Yang. (Tatsiana Moon for American Essence)

Deeper still is the energetic dimension. It is usually associated with ancient forms of medicine, such as traditional Chinese or Ayurvedic practices that work with energy forces such as qi or prana. The forces themselves may be invisible, but their manifestations are clear. Someone who suffers from deficient qi, for example, can see reflections of this deficiency in their appearance and their overall health.


The most profound factor in the SY Aesthetics evaluation is the spiritual component. This dimension is embodied in the thoughts and beliefs that we hold. These are also invisible elements, but they definitely reflect on how the world sees us. “When you’re around somebody who has true beauty, you don’t really notice the physical defects,” Yager said. “It’s the way they make you feel. You just enjoy being around them because they radiate this positivity and energy that’s infectious. That’s what we’re trying to bring out.”

A spiritual approach to plastic surgery may seem unusual, but Yang says it’s essential to a truly holistic vision of beauty. Patients who address this dimension before going under the knife may even conclude that they don’t really want plastic surgery, or realize that they’re pursuing it for all the wrong reasons. “Actually, we would like them to do that if that is the case,” Yang said. “Sometimes they know what they want in their head, but they absolutely don’t want it in their hearts.”

Acupuncture treatment is a key feature of traditional Chinese medicine. (Cara Ding)

Even if patients decide that surgery is necessary, Yager said going into a procedure with a strong spirit helps with the whole process. He points to a body of research which shows that spirituality is associated with better health outcomes. Such studies reveal that prayer and spirituality is an important aspect of the healing process, particularly in plastic surgery. 

“Even the patients who are doing aesthetic surgery can benefit so much from the advanced nutritional therapy that we can offer … These should not be underestimated,” Yager said.

If a patient shows issues with trauma, nutrition, or some other imbalance, they can still elect to get physical changes once they’ve addressed these deeper concerns. And Yager believes all these factors combined will lead to a more satisfying, and ultimately more beautiful outcome, both for himself and the patient. “I consider what I do the easy part,” Yager said. “All the patient has to do is go to sleep, and I can do all the work for them. But I can’t fix these spiritual, energetic, and biochemical things with such rapidity. Those are the processes that take longer, and they’re harder work.”

In the past few years, some cosmetic surgery practices have been moving toward a more holistic bent, but Yang and Yager want to encourage a revolutionary shift in the entire industry. Last fall, the SY Aesthetics team held an international conference to share their direction, philosophy, and research. A second conference is planned for this fall.

“This is about really moving the field of aesthetics and beauty forward to the next level. And our hope is, other people do the same,” Yager said.

From May Issue, Volume 3