When Healing Waters, a brand-new medi-spa located within the Parkridge campus of Palmetto Health, opened in January, it changed the face of anti-aging options in the region. Literally. That’s because the arsenal of treatments offered at Healing Waters doesn’t stop at massages, facials, scrubs and wraps. Clients can also choose from a full range of injectables and plastic surgery options.
By Katie McElveen
Owner, founder and former neurosurgical nurse Amanda Gorecki opened Healing Waters, which also has locations in North Carolina and Kansas, with a mission, and it goes well beyond pretty faces and perfectly sculpted bodies. “People who don’t feel good about themselves often engage in unhealthy or risky behaviors,” she explains. “Those behaviors often result in serious health issues. So, stemming those issues, boosting self-esteem, has a positive effect on your overall health.”
Gorecki’s decision to open a medi-spa came from her experience both as a nurse in neurosurgery and the wife of a neurosurgeon. “By the time a person lands in neurosurgery it’s generally not good,” she says. “I thought that if I could do something to help people feel better about themselves, maybe they’d make better long-term decisions about their health.” To that end, she developed concept for the spa around a set of four Transformational Change Principles – Calm, Balance, Correct and Restore. The four principles guide nearly every aspect of the business, from treatments and skin care products (which are color-coded to make choosing the right products a no-brainer) to philanthropy.
Stepping into the calming space, it’s hard to believe that this is more than a sybaritic spa. Candles flicker from pretty votives, the air is scented and water trickles in the background. Entering the relaxation space, though, and clues that this might be a different kind of spa—one focused on full renewal rather than simply feeling good--begin to emerge. Since relaxation takes many forms, the living room, as it’s called, is divided into several areas. Solitude-seekers can curl up in one of the privacy-inducing settees; groups of friends can gather in a sheltered cove that lets them visit without disturbing others. There’s even a hanging chair that swings gently as you set. “Research shows that movement can be very calming,” says Gorecki. “The swing is amazing. People sit in it and don’t want to get out.”
On the spa side of the facility, a menu of services tempts with divine-sounding therapies, including massages enhanced with essential oils, warmed river rocks and bamboo stalks; there’s even a Thai yoga massage for clients who want to take their first step toward body therapy but are more comfortable remaining clothed. Facials can be customized to suit skin type and your schedule, with 30, 60 and 90-minute treatments available. To help therapists fully understand just how good a well-executed treatment can make you feel, they’re each treated to regular therapies. “If you’re never on the receiving end of a feel-good therapy, it’s easy to forget just how much it can change your perspective,” explains Gorecki. “By giving our therapists that experience it keeps them focused on the power of what they’re doing.”
The other side of Healing Waters is devoted to aesthetic services – therapies that, while more invasive, offer more noticeable results. After meeting with an aesthetician, clients are guided toward the best solution for their skin-care concern, whether it’s Botox for wrinkles caused by habitual facial expressions; Juvederm, Voluma or another filler to augment hollows or smooth out deep creases or laser therapy, which utilizes a state-of-the-art broad-spectrum laser and the HALO laser, to treat fine lines, rosacea and dark spots. “These new lasers are incredibly versatile,” says medical director Peter Haines, MD, FACS. “They can significantly improve skin quality with very little down time.” The center can also perform what’s called a liquid face lift. “Using the right combination of fillers, neurotoxins and other tools, we can give you results similar to a face lift but without any surgery.”
But for guests who want to go that direction, surgical solutions are also an option at Healing Waters. Dr. Haines oversees a full range of surgical procedures that include eyelid surgery, face and forehead lifts, laser and surgical body contouring, tummy tucks and breast lifts, augmentation and reduction and reconstruction.
“One thing that sets us apart from other surgical centers is preparation and counseling,” says Gorecki. “We have worked with all of these products, from each individual injectable to the various breast implants, for a very long time, so we can help you choose the procedure, or set of procedures, that will give you the results you want. The results that will help you feel the best about yourself.”
Gorecki is so committed to her philosophy that wellness, healing and self-esteem work best together that she has her therapists step out of the spa and into the adjoining hospital every day, offering hand and foot massages to all Parkridge inpatients and new moms. “When I started as a nurse, massage was part of post-operative care,” explains Gorecki. “I think it’s an important part of healing, so we decided to offer it to hospital patients.”
Philanthropy is also an important part of the Healing Waters mission. Gorecki devotes one quarter of each year to a particular principle, letting staff members choose how to turn the principle into a healing activity. The first part of the year, for example, from January through March, is devoted to calm. At the company’s Raleigh location, staff members chose to bring women who had escaped abusive relationships and were living secretly in a local shelter into the spa for free massages and facials. To keep them safe from their abusers, the women entered and exited through the back door. Balance, April through June, is often dedicated to helping young girls develop a healthy body image with workshops and other programs; restore is generally reserved for breast cancer survivors.
“As adults, we tend to get stuck on our focus,” says Gorecki. “Changing that focus can inspire us to find new ways to bring health and healing to others. If we can pick someone’s chin up just a little we can have a big impact.”
Healing Waters Columbia SC