“There’s a reason we have two ears and one mouth.” — While we practice this in every aspect of our lives, we feel like this is especially important in building our relationships with each patient. Every patient has a different story, background and aesthetic goals so it’s so important to take the time to listen to each and every patient’s individual concerns, expectations, past experiences and desired outcomes. You never know what someone has gone through until you’ve given them time to explain their past and it’s so important that people feel heard, especially when it comes to their face! We often remind patients that they only have one face so it’s important to take great care of and that’s what we’re here for in any and every capacity!
As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Marissa Abdo & Morgan Renfro.
As go-to injectors for celebrities and the Hollywood elite, Marissa Abdo, MS, RN, CANS and Morgan Renfro, RN, CANS are taking their professionalism to the next level. Former team members of Dr. 90210 in Beverly Hills, the duo have combined their expertise to create a one-of-a-kind aesthetic practice Lumen + Bevel Aesthetics. They are top trainers in the world of aesthetic injectables, a multibillion-dollar industry. Together, they offer clients a collaborative experience using non-surgical facial sculpting and contouring techniques to enhance and preserve each individual’s natural beauty. Their specialized experience of exclusively performing non-surgical injectable treatments has resulted in the performance of nearly 2,000 procedures a year each. This statistic speaks volumes when compared with the average annual injectable treatments performed by many medspas and plastic surgeons at around 500 annually. Marissa and Morgan have both learned from the most prestigious injectable leaders from all over the world. Additionally, Morgan was just asked to lead a talk for the upcoming “Train the Trainers” conference where she will be training other national leaders on how to use Galderma’s interactive anatomy. Marissa was one of the first in the country to become a Certified Aesthetic Nurse Specialist and helped grow a small practice to a top ten national account for both Galderma and Allergan, the top aesthetic companies in the world. Keep an eye on these two because they are female disruptors in the world of aesthetic injectables.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
Marissa Abdo: I grew up on Long Island, NY and attended ASU on an academic scholarship. Freshman year at university, I got a job for a young, up and coming plastic surgeon. Botox was still sort of taboo and not as mainstream as it is today, and I found the medical aesthetics industry fascinating and exciting. I had to be a part of it. After nursing school, I moved to London and received my master’s degree in Healthcare Management. I always had the goal of working in aesthetics and a dream of opening my own practice one day. The following 10 years, I lived in Santa Monica, CA where I helped build a small business into a Top 10 injectable practice in the country and became a national trainer for the two top aesthetics companies in the world, Allergan and Galderma. Five weeks after my second child was born, we went on COVID lockdown in California. Like so many others during this time, it gave me the push and courage I needed to take the plunge and move to Scottsdale, AZ to open my own practice with my business partner and friend, Morgan.
Morgan Renfro: After nursing school I moved to Los Angeles to be with my now husband who had been working there while I was obtaining my RN degree. At the time, I was pretty set on working in an ER as soon as I could find a position. While I was waiting for a spot to open up, I started working at a medspa where I was introduced to the aesthetics world. I told myself I was just going to work there until I got into the hospital but as soon as I was introduced to facial injectable treatments, I was hooked! The idea of being able to make people feel beautiful and confident all day while still having a great focus on medicine and anatomy confirmed that this was the industry for me! From there, I sought out the best injectable practice in the area and sent my resume several times until they decided to meet me!
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
Our vision for our practice is to create a niche service for aesthetic facial injectables that fits between a medspa and plastic surgeon practice. As national trainers for the top two aesthetic companies in the world, we pride ourselves on our facial anatomy knowledge and advanced skillset. We offer a very small, specialized menu of services, unlike our medspa colleagues that usually provide a plethora of services. At the same time, we provide a medical service based on our patient’s health history and advanced knowledge of facial aging more on par with a plastic surgeon’s office.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
About 4 months after we opened our own facial injectable practice in Scottsdale, AZ we had this adorable patient come in for Botox for the first time before her wedding. We had so much fun treating her and hearing all about her upcoming nuptials that at the end of the appointment, we walked her to the front door to wish her luck. She then said, “Wait, I still need to pay you!” This experience not only confirmed how much we love what we do, but it also reminded us that we have to wear all of the hats when it comes to running our business.
We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
I remember working at the first aesthetic practice in my career when an Allergan Representative came in and offered for me to observe an official Allergan Training on one of their products called Kybella. I had started injecting prior to this but wasn’t offered much training so I was so excited for the opportunity to observe any type of training even if I wasn’t able to participate. The trainer blew me away! She was so confident, kind and educated about facial anatomy and injectable treatments that I knew right then that I wanted to one day be able to do what she was doing. I started looking into the practices that solely offered injectable treatments and who put a huge emphasis on continuing education. I started sending my resume over to them consistently until I was finally asked to come in for an interview. When I was offered a job, I was able to focus on exactly what I love — facial anatomy and injectable treatments. Even better, the Senior Injection Specialist that ended up doing my official training was the same Allergan Trainer that inspired this career step! Fast forward to today, I have also been a National Trainer for a few years now inspiring other new injectors. Fun fact? That very first Allergan trainer is now my business partner, Marissa Abdo! Long story short, she was my mentor before she even knew me, and we now work together every single day doing what we love and elevating the aesthetic standards as we go!
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
In the aesthetic industry, being disruptive can be very positive in regard to pushing the limits on how we use these products to create beautiful outcomes. The industry is disrupted every time a new product is FDA approved, giving us more tools in our toolbox to create natural aesthetic results, and implement new injecting techniques that are discovered and shared among the community.
On the other hand, when injectors are disruptive by trying to use these products in new ways without the proper training or anatomical education, outcomes and safety are compromised. We also need to be careful of trendy injectable treatments taking off on social media. There was a big “snatched jawline” trend recently, but we saw so many women who had their jawlines over injected and ended up looking more masculine which is not what we are going for! In order to positively disrupt the industry, education is crucial to keep our patients safe and looking their best.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
- “Always be learning.” — The facial aesthetic industry is moving at such a fast past with new products being FDA approved constantly. It’s important to value continuing education in order to stay up to date on the latest techniques and trends to provide natural, refreshing results.
- “Be a jack of few trades and a master of all.” — Many medspas offer an extensive menu of services. We focus solely on facial injectable treatments giving us the opportunity to hone-in our expertise.
- “There’s a reason we have two ears and one mouth.” — While we practice this in every aspect of our lives, we feel like this is especially important in building our relationships with each patient. Every patient has a different story, background and aesthetic goals so it’s so important to take the time to listen to each and every patient’s individual concerns, expectations, past experiences and desired outcomes. You never know what someone has gone through until you’ve given them time to explain their past and it’s so important that people feel heard, especially when it comes to their face! We often remind patients that they only have one face so it’s important to take great care of and that’s what we’re here for in any and every capacity!
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
We’ve noticed there is a lack of advanced specialized training in our market, so we decided to create an advanced training program for other injectors. Our goal is to train as many people as we can on the safe and effective use of facial injectables so we can elevate the industry as a whole. There is a lot of competition in the market, but our philosophy is that if more aesthetic providers had proper training, we can minimize complications and push our field to a new level.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
Some patients think they need to see a plastic surgeon to receive noninvasive injectable treatments, a field where males dominate. However, there are many female registered nurses in our industry that are certified to perform these procedures. Often, these nurses specialize in injectables and see more injectable patients a year than a surgeon who also performs surgery. We are just as qualified and have extensive training in facial injectables, yet we don’t see these women being published or participating in clinical trials like our male dominated physician counterparts. There’s room for all of us to shape the future of injectables. We are both very proud of the impact we’re making as female medical professionals in the Aesthetic industry. Marissa has sat on the board for Allergan as an advisor for future products in the industry and Morgan was just asked to speak on behalf of Galderma in a podium position, getting the opportunity to train other national trainers!
Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?
The Happiness Advantage! There is one specific section that talks about how our brains are very used to following specific patterns and sometimes we can find ourselves in a negative thought loop. This book helped us tremendously when feeling overwhelmed with starting our own practice and learning how to navigate all the different pieces that go into this huge endeavor we’ve set out on. Now we use this way of identifying patterns as a tool (with patients and with trainees) to help people find the possibilities they might not have been able to appreciate due to a negative thought process. Identifying these patterns and finding a way to help people see things from a different perspective has been so empowering and impactful in our lives and careers. This is a go-to book for both of us whenever we need a boost or inspiration!
The big leap! This book helped us find the courage to leave the stability and comfort of our jobs in LA to pursue our dreams of creating our own practice and making our mark on the aesthetics industry. Wayne Gretzky said it well when he said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take!” We knew that we would never be fully ready to make this big of a transition in our lives, but thanks to The Big Leap and Mr. Gretzky we surely knew we would never get where we are now if we didn’t try!
You are both people of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount ofd people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
We truly believe that kindness is contagious and when we are kind to each other, we can build each other up and the possibilities are endless! When we were little, we both had a chore chart that included doing something nice for someone. Every time we would do something nice for someone, we would tell our parents about it and they would write it down and give us a sticker for it! It may have seemed silly then, but this taught us at a very young age, the power of kindness and how even one act of kindness can blossom into the biggest of movements. If there were ever a way to start a movement that involved people celebrating acts of kindness they have received as well as done for someone else, we believe that could have the ability to spread positivity through the world.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“See one, do one, teach one.”
After leading my very first training as a National Trainer I thought back to that quote my dad used to say about how to truly become a master in your craft. His point was that to truly understand something you must first observe it, then you can practice it (see one, do one). But to TRULY master your craft you must also be able to take a difficult concept or procedure and explain it in the simplest way. If you can’t explain something simply, you probably don’t fully understand what you are teaching. After that first training that I led, not only had the trainees learned so much but I feel like I learned as much as they did just by having to explain simply what I was doing in my head. This has really been a huge reason as to why we value training so much. We believe in always learning and always educating and inspiring others to one day even be a trainer themselves.
Another favorite is from Mom. “Don’t make that face, it’s going to stick like that!” She was right. Thank goodness for Botox.
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