The Dermatologist Celebrities Have on Speed Dial Opens a Groundbreaking Wellness Space in New York

This article originally appeared in Vogue on April 25, 2018.

by Katie Branch

Inside New York Dermatology Group’s new integral health and wellness wing—a stunning, all-white space spanning 7,000 square feet on the second floor, replete with custom-made treatment rooms that look like futuristic pods—it is completely silent. A refuge of sorts from the fumes and fuss that fill Fifth Avenue directly below, the office, known as NYDG, is getting ready to open its doors to the public. Dr. David Colbert, the brains behind this operation (not to mention countless celebrities’ complexions, Sienna Miller, Naomi Watts, Robin Wright among them) is finishing up with a patient two flights overhead, where his office has long been a destination for those seeking his famous lasers and unparalleled skill with wrinkle-smoothing injectables.

Here, on the second floor, is where Colbert and his team of hand-selected, world-class physicians—including orthopedic surgeon Dr. John G. Kennedy; obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. Kathleen Mulligan; and internist Dr. John F. Adams—will offer an inside-out approach to wellness that feels prescient in its merger of cutting-edge science and bespoke self-care. “We are not a spa,” says Colbert as he walks the hallway, peering into pods filled with IV drips and collagen beds and two cryotherapy chambers, one large enough to dance around in. “We are a wellness clinic staffed by board-certified physicians who went to medical school—there are no posers here.”

Colbert is alluding to the rise of so-called well-washing—a phrase coined to explain the trendy and lucrative self-care industry (floating tanks! infrared saunas! organ massage studios!) that boasts explosive growth but lacks the research and training that ought to back it, and offers an incomplete approach to health. “Our DNA is prevention, performance, and maintenance—at all stages of life,” he says, ticking off the list of transitions he’s watched clients of all ages go through over the past 20 years, from pregnancies to sports injuries and ailments.

© Albert Vecerka/Esto

Inside a NYDG treatment room, designed to look like a futuristic pod by the architect Brandon Haw. Photo: Albert Vecerka / Esto

With a five-page treatment menu offering everything from facial rejuvenation and body contouring, as well as hormone, shock wave, and photo therapy, it’s hard to know where to start. That’s why each client is paired with a physician to speak about goals and concerns. “It’s a completely coordinated and custom approach,” says Colbert, singling out his team’s programs for weight loss, which can include one-on-one nutrition counseling, as well as body sculpting services and cryotherapy for cellulite, and travel packages, most of which begin with a vaccine before a far-flung trip and end with an IV drip for jet lag. Even more? “If you’re down here and you’re getting a facial and someone notices a black spot, he or she is going to send you for a skin-cancer screening upstairs, where there are four board-certified dermatologists with over 20 laser treatments on hand.”

Speaking of facials, clients can drop in for Colbert’s famous Triad treatment, a favorite among his red carpet stars for its ability to pack microdermabrasion, laser toning, and a light chemical peel into one 45-minute transformative experience. Those who prefer an organic-based skin-care session can sign on for a noteworthy first instead: Enter Susanne Kaufmann’s in-house treatment cabin at NYDG, where the Austrian naturalist has officially set up her first U.S. shop. Her 90-minute bespoke facial combines her extraordinary custom products with lymphatic drainage and deep massage work; each session begins with a foot bath and travels up the body to the face, making sure to hit the kidney and lungs, two points of high importance in Chinese medicine, says Kaufmann. “Don’t underestimate the power of touch.” With an enzyme peel and a 12-day after-care course, including innovative ampoules that tout Vitamin C, Ectoine, and CoQ10 anti-pollution complexes, it will leave you feeling, as Colbert puts it, “like a kid again.”

Dr. Kennedy is currently the clinical director of the running clinic at Hospital for Special Surgery. He graduated from Royal College of Surgeons in 1989 and has since practiced in both Ireland & the U.S. He specializes in osteochondral injuries, Achilles tendon injuries, ankle instability, and ligament reconstruction and has a primary interest in lower limb surgery, particularly sports-related injuries.