Portrait Provider Spotlight: Melissa Gorden, RN

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A healthcare professional’s journey into the aesthetics space is unique, which holds true within our amazing community of Portrait providers. Each of these talented injectors has a different story, perspective, and expertise. Every week, we will be highlighting a new provider to bring their journey in front of our audience. We hope you enjoy learning their stories as much as we have!

Melissa Spotlight

Portrait: Hi, Melissa! We are SO excited to talk to you today. Let’s start by having you introduce yourself, share your title, and tell us your favorite show or book right now.  

Melissa: Hi there, I’m Melissa Gorden, and I’m a registered nurse. When I’m not practicing aesthetics, I absolutely love to read and write. One of my favorite authors is Gary Paulsen — but lately, I’ve been mixing business with pleasure and reading a lot of anatomy papers. It’s the best of both worlds!

Portrait: Can you tell us how you got started in the healthcare field?

Melissa: I grew up on a farm in northern Minnesota, and was always good in an emergency situation. I thought I'd go into medicine, but I had to be a wild child and travel first. I was very fortunate to be an exchange student in Istanbul during high school. That kind of opened my world, and I realized that there was more to life than a farm in northern Minnesota. Here’s something serendipitous to note: we grew sugar beets on our farm, and that's where Sculptra® comes from. There were signs all around me that I’d be in aesthetics; I just didn’t see them!

I did a lot of things before becoming a nurse. I was a bartender. I was a magician's assistant. I was a professional belly dancer. I even worked for a couple of political lobbyists too! While those jobs gave me great experience and a very well-rounded set of skills, I could never shake my curiosity for healthcare.

Eventually, I went to school and became a surgical tech, which allowed me to build very technical skills, including basic anatomy, physiology, and patient safety. After that, I knew I should just go straight to nursing school. So I did — and I did it all myself. I worked the whole time I was at school, I paid off my own student loans, and I became a traveling nurse after. That entrepreneurial mindset I had in nursing school would stick with me throughout the duration of my career.

Portrait: Wow, it sounds like it was a fun journey here! Once you landed in healthcare, what introduced you to aesthetics?

Melissa: It was definitely a combination of my personal experiences and professional exposure I received as a traveling nurse...

On a personal connection, I had some cystic acne growing up that left me with a mark on my face, and it was blue. People would ask me, “Is that ink on your face?” and they’d try to wipe it off. I tried to get help from a dermatologist and plastic surgeon, but the aesthetic world back then wasn't as developed as it is now. So, I started educating myself about skincare. I also had a really bad melanoma in my early twenties. I was really lucky that my doctor spotted the mole on my arm and took the time to help me. I was the girl laying out in the sun and tanning with baby oil, so the experience gave me a newfound appreciation for SPF and made me understand the importance of sun protection.

Professionally, we started using Botox® and a lot of lasers in the operating room — especially in reconstruction surgeries. When the plastic surgeon would come in, he or she would use Botox® to help quiet muscles around the wound to help the patient heal faster and not feel as much pain post-surgery. So I was really fascinated by that.

Aside from personal and professional experiences, I'm a girly girl at heart, and I just liked aesthetics. It requires so much fine detail — it’s like an art form, and I just wanted to keep working on it.  I remember I was at John Muir Medical Center here in Walnut Creek, and I loved aesthetics so much that I went to a laser and injecting school for my two-week vacation. I got my certificate and began practicing at the school’s clinic, where you could treat friends and family for a discount while you were learning. Eventually, I started my first aesthetics position working for an OBGYN practice that had a built-in patient population. I then went on to work for a plastic surgeon for over seven years before becoming my own boss and partnering with Portrait.

Portrait: Do you have a specialty service?

Melissa: I love Sculptra®. It's probably my favorite product. I personally love collagen-stimulating products because the results are so natural. In a perfect world, I would give everybody Sculptra® for their birthday month. I would do two treatments: a vial on each side of the face, then bring them back four to eight weeks later and do another two vials. To me, that's the framework of the house, where neurotoxin and hyaluronic acid are the windows and trim.

I also love the Fern technique. It's an old technique, further developed by Dr. Tom van Eijk; some people call it zipper. I use that quite a bit. I really get into my zone when I'm doing that work making really tiny, skin-boosting injections.

Portrait: Let’s talk skincare! In your opinion, how important is a good skincare routine?

Melissa: A good skincare routine is huge, but it doesn’t have to be very complicated! The two most important things we can use at home that are clinically proven to slow down the signs of aging are sunscreen and retinol. Just using sunscreen once a day, like brushing your teeth in the morning, will make a big difference. And always apply sunscreen on your neck and chest!

Portrait: We love the Melissa Gorden Ageless products! What inspired you to create your skincare line?

Melissa: It’s important to offer my patients high-quality products that simplify the skincare routine and make it feel less overwhelming. Melissa Gorden Ageless products are responsibly sourced and made in the US – which is something that is important to me and resonated with my patients. Even someone with the simplest of skincare routines finds the products are easy to integrate into their daily routine.  

Check out Melissa’s amazing products here!

Portrait: Which products could you not live without?

Melissa:  I really love Vitamin C Serum and all neurotoxins - I think they make such a difference.

Portrait: Shifting gears a little, talk to us about your involvement with the International Society of Plastic & Aesthetic Nurses (ISPAN).

Melissa: When I first started in medical aesthetics, I sometimes found it challenging to get information on certain topics. I joined ISPAN to help resolve that, and at the first conference I attended, I immediately felt like I had found my tribe. This felt like a community of people who were willing to share, learn, and grow. I joined the membership engagement committee to get more involved and was nominated and then elected to the Board of Directors in October 2021! I love that it is by nurses for nurses.

Portrait: What is the biggest challenge that you’ve faced as an injector?

Melissa: Not knowing what you don't know. I think you have to invest in yourself first. Everybody thinks they want to be in this business, but they don't know how hard it is.

Portrait: Can you tell us about a standout moment in your career?

Melissa: I had a really unusual thing happen to me just a few weeks ago. Over the span of a few days, I had three patients cry happy tears over their results. It was a great reminder that the work I do matters and why aesthetics is such a special field. There is nothing more rewarding than helping my patients feel like the best version of themselves — that’s why I do what I do.

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