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Life-long Learning Cements the Foundation of a Successful Career in Medical Aesthetics

Lisa Topham RN, BSN, the Director of Split Rock Aesthetic Institute in Connecticut, credits much of her success to life-long learning and being the first to offer many services in her practice.

Her aesthetics career began in the early 1980s, when in nursing school she took a job as a medical assistant the summer of her college sophomore year with a dermatologist who was also a Cosmetic Surgeon, Dr. Saul Asken. A physician ahead of his time, he collaborated with the visionary and pioneer of the philosophy and science of skin health, Zein Obagi, M.D. It was during this time that Lisa learned about medical aesthetics and how to use trichloroacetic acid, Retin A®, and hydroquinone to rejuvenate skin.

One of Lisa’s “firsts” happened in 1985 when she was the first nurse in the state of Connecticut to inject collagen in a patient from the Collagen Corporation! At that time, the modality, in terms of fillers, was collagen. The industry was in its nascent stage. Only peels using glycolic acid, TCA, and phenol were available at the time. Collagen was used to chase lines using the multiple needlestick approach in areas such as the forehead, glabella, and nasolabial folds.

In her practice at Split Rock Aesthetic Institute today, Lisa uses her favorite combination treatment, which is bio stimulators, especially Sculptra® for the face and PDO Max® threads to lift the skin rather than fill it. Lisa incorporates many smooth threads, along with barbed lifting threads to strengthen and improve the integrity of the dermis where filler is not optimal. For her clients, her experience is that this combination offers the most natural rejuvenation, second only to a deep plane facelift.

Lisa is quick to offer that another first for her was training in cadaver anatomy, which was not available when she entered the field. She urges everyone in the aesthetic industry to take cadaver anatomy courses to understand the foundation that makes up the structure beneath the skin.

Her most memorable first was tied to introducing threads into her practice in 2011. Over the years, she has come to appreciate PDO Max threads, as they are FDA-cleared, in-cannula, ensuring the safe application of the threads. Most importantly, they offer training for all levels and unmatched customer service. After her advanced training in 2017, her thread practice took off. Recently, she has begun to incorporate ultrasound, another first, to ensure safe delivery of thread, as this technology gives her the ability to look under the hood.

In addition, she states “I am very impressed that the founder, Giovanna McCarthy, is always available to listen to observations from me and to insights from me and my colleague Kati Midgley (@clarity_medical_aesthetics), to produce another first for Lisa, the Molded Levo Max threads, which, by design, are amazing in the lower face and neck.” PDO Max’s Molded Levo Max threads are bi-directional and barbed.

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Lisa encourages others in the industry to incorporate these threads into their practice, as they are engineered specifically for contouring the lower face, jawline, and general submentum area. When combined with their Smuth™ threads and their Levo Lock™, the Molded Levo Max threads contribute to a comprehensive facial rejuvenation procedure that can be performed in-office in under an hour.

For more information about our newest thread Molded Levo Max or to learn more about our one-on-on in-office trainings, please contact us at or call us at 800-670-0225.

PDO Max will be showcasing provider case studies of some of the industry’s most talented providers and educators in aesthetics. Have a story to share along with a thread tip, favorite PDO Max thread or vector design? Please send a message to and you may be featured in our newsletter and website.

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