New York’s ‘Facial Architect’, Akis Ntonos, On Lip Fillers, Barbie Botox and More
Main image – Aion’s co-founders, Akis Ntonos (L) and Taso Mikroulis (R) with Miss New York Taryn Delanie Smith. Aion Aesthetics
The era of fillers, characterised by full lips, a heart-shaped face, a tiny nose and puffy cheeks, is coming to an end. And for good reason.
Since around 2016, coinciding with Kylie Jenner debuting her full and pouty lips, the so-called “Instagram Face” has been injected into the profile of millions. Now, loads of celebrities are actually *removing* their fillers, seeking a more natural look.
At one premier New York injectables clinic, Aion Aesthetics (meaning ‘timeless’ in Greek), they say 2023 is instead all about optimising and enhancing natural beauty rather than conforming to a one-size-fits-all ideal.
We spoke with the clinic’s co-founder Akis Ntonos to find out where (and why) ‘tweakments’ are now trending, *exactly* how to choose an aesthetician who can get you the results you’re looking for, the viral “Barbie Botox” trend, and more.
Recognised as the “Top Aesthetic Injector” by Aesthetic Everything in 2022 and 2023, Ntonos is an expert in dermatology and a board-certified family nurse practitioner whose sought-after services have earned Aion the title “Top Medical Spa on the East Coast.”
Having grown up in the family-orientated Mediterranean, Ntonos says he likes to look at clients as individuals- even as family members- rather than simply patients. “My goal is to make lasting changes that enhance your unique features. Achieving the flawless look you desire is all about collaboration, trust, careful skill, and understanding,” he explains.
The expert tells us he found his calling almost by accident when, after relocating to the US on an acting scholarship, Ntonos felt something was missing from his journey. “I gained a growing interest in the healing processes of the body after years of sports injuries and elite-level fencing. This led me towards studying sports science and then a doctorate in Traditional Naturopathic Medicine,” he says.
And it was that holistic approach towards the body that led Ntonos to become one of NYC’s most sought-after injectables experts.
Because while plenty of us would LOVE a nose like Bella Hadid, lips like Kylie Jenner, and cheekbones to rival Cara Delevingne – understanding the shape of our face and how to best maximise our own features, rather than trying to replicate someone else’s, is the most important process to getting an enhanced natural look, he tells us.
“I speak with my clients in-depth before we carry out any procedures. We analyse, map and measure the face, talking through any insecurities, to ensure the client is comfortable and informed. It’s an emotional process for many people, with so many of my clients coming to me asking for celebrity looks, particularly younger people.”
But it isn’t all about looks. As a Family Nurse Practitioner, Ntonos explains that the medical benefits of Botox have largely been forgotten in our rush for the perfect nose/lips/brows.
He explains, “Botox is a great product, and it was initially used for medical reasons such as relaxing muscles for children with cerebral palsy and those who suffer with migraines.
“Similarly, fillers have been used for those with HIV due to facial lipoatrophy, which is a loss of subcutaneous fat tissue, causing a hollow-looking face. Filler was used to fill the face out, giving patients a more youthful and healthy look, making them feel better,” Ntonos tells LTG HQ.
Although it’s become *really* common to undergo various aesthetic treatments and plastic surgery, it’s not something to be taken lightly. “We’ve seen so many practitioners popping up everywhere in the last few years – especially since Covid,” says Ntonos.
Has this had an impact on how we use injectables? Akis thinks so.
“There was a huge surge in the number of people wanting Botox and fillers when we started coming out of the pandemic, and so many clients told me they had noticed lines, wrinkles, and their skin texture when on Zoom calls while working from home. I think it created more insecurity, and then lots of people were nervous about not having to wear a mask after seeing themselves in a different way during lockdowns.”
There is a danger in this though. Most of us will be familiar with the sight of tens of new Instagram pages by those claiming to be trained in injectables, offering their services and taking bookings through social media. Ntonos tells us that “the regulations for injectables really need to change. The US isn’t great, but the UK is very unregulated and, frighteningly, people can take an 8-hour day course for injectables and then start injecting the public.”
“If you go to an unqualified or inexperienced practitioner who has no medical background, the chances of them being able to help you if anything goes wrong are slim to none. Injectables can block arteries if administered incorrectly, causing necrosis of the face, where your skin essentially dies,” he adds.
Not only has the rise in tweakments influenced the industry itself but also the type of services clients are asking for, Akis explains.
One such treatment is what’s now being called “Barbie Botox” (a procedure to smooth and define shoulder muscles), inspired by the film’s release.
Ntonos tells us that “the term Barbie Botox was only created commercially given the recent movie release.”
He adds, “The name of the procedure is actually Trap Botox. It helps to relax the trapezius muscle in order to relax the posture. It additionally makes the neck look more elongated and feminine, and can also reduce tension-related pain. We have been getting many requests weekly, given the recent surge in the term.”
As he explains though, just because we’ve seen a latest treatment on TikTok, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be for everyone – and a large part of getting the best results is finding a practitioner who will not only offer an expert hand but also an ethical service.
Ntonos explains, “Although some clients don’t like it, I do say no to procedures that I think won’t suit a client’s face or bone structure. My goal is to enhance their look and for clients to leave confident and healthy.”
If finding the right person to do your fillers or Botox is half the battle then, how do you go about getting the right practitioner?
“Do your research and listen to what others have to say, make sure you see real images of their results and not just stock images used on websites.
“The rate of problems from injectables being administered incorrectly has shot up to 1 in 5,000 people, so it’s really important to use a specialist that you trust and that won’t force you into procedures you don’t actually want or NEED,” the expert explains.
He adds, “Technique is also really important, and many of the practitioners who have recently qualified don’t have the experience or technique to create natural looks, they only know how to create the “Jenner” look we see all over social media.
“The right treatment should actually go unnoticed and should look naturally enhanced.”
And it’s not just fillers and Botox; there has been a significant increase in people having laser hair removal, chemical peels, and dermabrasion, for example. These skin treatments can offer incredible results, resurfacing the skin and giving a more youthful appearance.
And it may be in this arena- prevention- that trends for the next years ahead may lie, according to Ntonos.
“Prevention is a big thing now, and Botox is still king in this area,” he explains.
He tells us, “I have people come into my clinic who are 18 years old and clients who are 88 years old! Lots of them are looking to resurface their skin, smooth fine lines and wrinkles, and prevent the signs of ageing.”
He adds, “One of the most common procedures for younger skin is microneedling to urge the skin to create more collagen, combining a superior microneedling facial with a procedure that uses your platelets to stimulate the regrowth of healthy tissues.”
Transparency is another emerging trend, according to the expert. While he explains that most celebrities who attend his practice don’t want to be named, some are increasingly coming forward to be open about what they’ve had done and their own skin and beauty issues.
“One client I worked with is Miss New York, Taryn Delanie Smith. She was so open about issues with her skin, and this really encourages others to realise that ‘perfect’ skin sometimes means a lot of time and money needs to be spent,” he explains.
“In her preparation for Miss World, we developed a personalised regimen for her skin, which included the VI Peel Purify with Precision Plus. This works synergistically to combat active acne symptoms while repairing dark areas on the skin.”
Ntonos adds, “Helping people to manage hyperpigmentation and acne is something I am really passionate about; it can really affect a person’s life and social media filters lead people to think everyone else has great skin!”
If the future of beauty involves more emphasis on enhancing, rather than completely altering, our natural looks, this is definitely something we can get on board with.
Transparency too can only be a welcome addition to the TikTok/Instagram beauty game. But with the UK in particular still a long way from fully regulating the injectables industry, the onus is still currently on the consumer to be ultra aware when stepping foot into the world of tweakments.
As Ntonos concludes, “Botox is the new haircut, and it’s a business. But it’s not something you should rush into and you should never let someone convince you to have procedures that you don’t feel confident or comfortable with.
“You do get what you pay for – and you can’t put a price on a healthy face.”
Akis Ntonos is available by appointment only at Aion Aesthetics, www.aionnyc.com, 55 E 73rd St Suite: GF, New York, NY 10021.