Jessica Sarkis recently assisted with a non-surgical procedure. That fact itself is not remarkable, as the Cleveland-based physician assistant has previously participated in countless procedures.
But it’s not every day that Sarkis assists in a cutting edge transgender feminization transformation. And it’s certainly not every day that her work is broadcast live to medical professionals and reporters around the world.
Thus Sarkis’ experience on September 10 was quite notable as she worked alongside Dr. Justin Harper, MD at this year’s Aesthetics Next National Conference held in Dallas, Texas.
With a degree from The Ohio State University’s College of Medicine, Dr. Harper is respected as an innovator within the field of aesthetics. After founding Juvly Aesthetics in Columbus, Ohio in 2014, he has helmed the med spa’s growth to now 10 locations and continues to drive the industry forward with advanced techniques and a patient-first approach.
Having trained directly under Dr. Harper and with her own impressive career, Sarkis was hand-selected to support the procedure featuring techniques unique to Dr. Harper, including the use of various dermal fillers around the chin, cheeks, brow, temple, and lips.
As part of the process, Sarkis worked closely with patient Naomi McEwen, who said she felt fortunate to have this opportunity and was pleased with the results.
“The procedure was great,” said McEwen. “I felt comfortable and informed the whole time and both Dr. Harper and PA Sarkis made me feel very confident in what they were doing.”
The Buckeye Flame spoke with Sarkis to discuss her background as well as her key takeaways from the live procedure with Dr. Harper.
What drew you to the field of aesthetics?
In the emergency room and urgent care setting, I wasn’t connecting well with my patients, and I really wasn’t sure why. I was helping people and it was exciting and fast-paced, but there was something missing. I think it was because there wasn’t a goal in mind that we could sit and talk about together.
In aesthetics, you have a patient who you have a lot of time with, and the focus is on them and their goals – and their goals are always tailored towards confidence. They always want to be doing something to lead a more confident life and to look in the mirror and see the person that they are.
What was it like to work alongside Dr. Harper?
It was a different kind of nerves because it was on a stage and it was being recorded, so definitely a different element there. But I’m accustomed to working alongside him. I know what his needs are, and I know what he’s about to do. I know what to grab for him. I know how to help.
So, it was comfortable for me, but it was exciting as well because I had a chance to meet Naomi ahead of time and speak with her. I was the one who actually consulted with her and prepared her for what would be happening. It was exciting for me having already made that personal connection with her to be on stage and watch it happening.
Why are procedures like this important for those in the LGBTQ+ community?
Obviously when you’re going through a procedure like this, something so life changing, again, I think the goal is always to create that identity and again for you to look in the mirror and see exactly the person that you perceive yourself to be. I think that there’s always an initiative to do that in some way, shape, or form – whether it’s in [clothing], hair, or with hormonal replacement therapy.
This procedure is important because it has become very attainable. I think at one point in life, aesthetics and the non-surgical options in aesthetics were a lot more expensive than they are now, and they were a lot less available. Now, they’re available for any person. They’re affordable, the techniques are advanced, refined products are much better than they once were, and I think the option is a lot more accessible. It’s just an accessible way to reach your goals.
What was Naomi’s initial reaction after the procedure?
She had a lot done – we did everything at once for the most part. So, I think initially she was tired. When she first looked in the mirror I could tell she was trying to process it all and I think she was surprised. Then, Dr. Harper told her, “Hey, put the mirror down and look again in a couple of minutes”.
Then, when we showed her the second time, that’s when she said, “Yeah, it’s great. It’s much softer. I feel like there’s a more feminine look.” I think during the first look she was a little shocked, but during the second look she was very happy.
What will you take away from this procedure with Dr. Harper and be able to apply at the Cleveland office?
I always learn a lot from him, of course, technically speaking. I learned a lot from the procedure, and his vision and the way he was able to approach the entire face in one session – that is something that is unique to his expertise. That is something that, typically, I like to do in parts. I’m a little bit more cautious, but still get it all done. Whereas he was able to look at her face and just picture it all and do it all in one sitting. So, that was phenomenal, and I will definitely take that learning with me.
But also, I learned from just the way he interacted with Naomi. I think this is a community and a subject that needs to be approached delicately and with a lot of sensitivity, and it just comes very natural for him. For example, the maneuver when he told Naomi to put the mirror down and to look again in a couple of minutes. Nuances like that just come natural with time and with his expertise. I think those interactions are things that I’ll take with me for when I have anybody from the LGBTQ community in my chair. 🔥