Founder of Tosoni MD, Medical Director of DermaPure Ottawa
Dr Tosoni began her medical career well over twenty years ago, making her a longstanding expert in the field of Non-Surgical Medical Aesthetics. After graduating from her undergraduate degree in Psychology from McGill University and obtaining a Master’s Degree in Neuropsychology at University of Montreal, she pursued her Medical Degree at McMaster University. She subsequently completed a Residency in Family Medicine in Ottawa and soon after succeeded in being granted a Focussed Practice in Dermatology. Dr. Tosoni was always determined to pursue a meaningful and intellectually challenging career. This did not however deter her from her equally strong personal desire to have a large family.
Despite others trying to council her otherwise, fearing that she might take on too much and risk failing at both, she simply refused to compromise in having to choose between having either one or the other and maintained her course. Determined, focused and hardworking, she succeeded not only in excelling in her studies and subsequent career, but also managing to do this all while having her first born, a daughter, in her first year of Med School, two other daughters during her residency, and a son soon after opening her first Medical Aesthetic Spa, proving that her grit and resilience are her biggest strengths.
Upon starting her clinical practice, Dr. Tosoni rapidly developed an interest in Cosmetic Medicine. This was in early 2000. A very exciting time for Cosmetic Medicine as Botox had just been approved for cosmetic use and was just being introduced to the medical aesthetic market. Dr. Tosoni was one of the first Canadian Physicians to be trained in both neurotoxin and dermal filler injections. She attended several national and international trainings early in her career as well as peer to peer trainings, which she considers were her best training experiences.
Some of her most memorable and influential trainings were in Houston Texas, alongside Dr. Pauline Raymond-Martimbault where she trained in sclerotherapy, in Montreal with Dr. Arthur Swift where she trained in the art of Beauti-phi-cation, with Dr. Nathan Rosen and Dr. Channy Muhn in Burlington, with Dr. Mauricio De Maio from Brazil with whom she deepened her understanding of injectables techniques, and later on with Professor Cotofana and Dr. André Braz, also from Brazil with whom she focussed on injectable anatomy. These represent only a selected few learning experiences among dozens she continues to attends yearly, demonstrating her long dedication to continuous education in all field related to Medical Aesthetics. Here is her success journey.
When did you decide you were going to pursue your entrepreneurial journey in medicine?
It was never something I sat down and decided upon. I did not have any training in med school or residency about running a business. This was not part of our curriculum in those days. In hindsight, I think it kind of just happened naturally. I’m very independent by nature and it made sense to me to have my own practice.I did not want to work for anyone else dictating me how many patients I was required to see in a day or in an hour even. I wanted to be able to offer comprehensive care to my patients in a humane way.
It was also important for me to develop long term relationships with my patients and the only way to do this was to have my own practice and my own patient roster. Therefore contrary to most of my graduating classmates who opted to work as locums,as soon as I graduated, I took over the family practice of a retiring physician.It was admittedly scary at first but I did not shy away from the added responsibility of having employees and rent under my name. And to my surprised I actually enjoyed the entrepreneurial aspect of it all, so much so that 2 years into my practice, I decided to move into a much larger space and build what would become the first Medical Aesthetic Spa in Eastern Ontario, owned and operated full time by a physician.
What brought you into the cosmetic field?
As an undergraduate and graduate student, I worked in research, and in this context performed both stereotactic brain surgeries and abdominal surgeries on laboratory rats. I have very good manual dexterity and enjoyed the challenges of such meticulous work.Although I very much enjoyed my interactions with my family medicine patients, within two years into my practice,I missed the challenges of technical skills and procedures requiring manual dexterity. I considered going back and doing a second residency in a surgery specialty but the Ontario Government did not allow re-entry residency positions at that time.Well not unless you were willing to be relocated to a remote area of the province for a minimum of 5 years.
Already having a family of 4 kids and a husband with a stable position in Ottawa by then, that was just not an option for me. I therefore decided to introduce sclerotherapy into my practice as a first step in the right direction.I went to Houston, Texas and trained with Dr. Pauline Raymond-Martimbault who was probably one of the most well know physician to offer these services and training at the time. She also happen to be Canadian and from Montreal, same as me, so it was nice to learn with her. This was back in 2000.
Once I started offering sclerotherapy, everything snowballed from there. My practice was identified as a cosmetic practice and pharmaceutical and laser companies started knocking on my doors to introduce me to the latest technologies and products at the time. Like I said earlier, this was in 2000, and there were just a handful of us, all physicians, offering these services in Ottawa at the time. I soon introduced chemical peels, Cosmeceuticals, microdermabrasion, IPL, Fraxel and of course Botox and Dermal Fillers to my list of services. By 2002, I needed to move my clinic to a bigger space to accommodate increasingly more services. This was the first of the 4 Medical Aesthetic Clinics I would end up building in the span of 24 years and what would also become the beginning of the most fulfilling and exciting medical career I ever thought possible.
Tell us about a challenge you had to surmount recently?
A positive challenge was making the decision to partner with Dermapure in August 2020. This represented a big change and leap of faith for me to transition from being a solo practitioner and solo business owner,where I was in charge of everything and responsible for everything, to being part of a bigger organisation and being able to relinquish administrative and managerial tasks.
It took me twenty four years to build the reputation that I have established in Ottawa and in Canada. I worked very hard at earning this reputation and at excelling at my work and I did it alone for many years with success. My recipe for success, which was simple really: work hard, constantly train, focus on every single patient that sat in my chair and provide them with the best possible and most natural results, worked for me.I’ve always been a ‘’one woman business’’ operation so to speak, and I’ve been in charge of every decision of every aspect of my work environment and practice for my entire career.Having partnered with Dermapure, means more freedom and less responsibility, which I am ready for on a personal level. But it also means learning to work within the parameters of a Corporation, working with other health care providers, trusting the process and accepting that certain aspects of running the clinic will be different from how I used to do it. Relinquishing responsibilities and decision making and delegating tasks have never been in my nature, so at times it’s a challenge for me. It’s getting better and easier every day.
A more daunting challenge has been staying relevant in this day and age of social media. Realizing full well that this dates me…I started my career when one’s reputation was built on their expertise, their education, their training, their results and word of mouth referrals. It was a slow process that took years but it was based on facts and reality and worth the efforts. Today it seems that relevance and perceived ‘’expertise’’ is based on who is best at dancing on Tik Tok and who is the best self-promoter on IG and Reels. I see ads every week now of injectors offering ‘’expert’’ training, who I know full well only became injectors themselves 1-2 years ago! That is insane to me. I also see others with insane followings on IG, Tik Tok and YouTube because they are great performers, and will do or say whatever it takes to get likes and followers. Somehow, society’s perception of expertise is now equated to these parameters instead of years of experience, a medical degree and clinical skills. It’s challenging to navigate through all this. It’s even more challenging to maintain one’s integrity and not give in to this circus and focus on what really matters which are our patients and providing them with the best possible outcome in the safest possible way.
Did you have women mentors in the industry? Name someone who has inspired you / motivated you to pursue this dream.
The two women who inspired me the most I think were from my previous training in Neuropsychology. They were Dre. Brenda Miller PHD, the women who defined neuropsychology and changed how we understand memory to this day, and Dre Maryse Lassonde PHD, my supervisor and mentor for my Master. Two remarkable, strong, hardworking, focussed and extremely intelligent women who changed and shaped the world of Neuropsychology and who inspired me to become the best that I could be wherever my career path would take me.
How did you develop your grit and resilience?
I’m not sure that one develops such traits. I think that these are qualities you either are born with or you are not. I can remember being internally driven going back as far as to elementary school, always wanting to be at the top of the class. As an adolescent and young adult, I wanted to be independent and managed to have 4 part-time jobs one summer to ensure that I would be able to save and travel with my friends come Fall.I never feared work, long hours and delayed gratification. I also thrive on others telling me I can or can not do something. My husband and I often joked about the fact that my success what build on spite.
By this I mean that I just don’t take no for an answer if I think it is the right thing for me. One of my motto is, if there is a will, there is a way. At 26, I was told that I would never get into medicine because the competition was too fierce and I was too old. I applied anyway and I got in, in one try. Then I was told I would never be able to complete my medical degree because I had my first daughter in my first year of medical school, yet I graduated with honours. I wastold I would not be able to handle residency with 3 children having had 2 more by then, that I would sure fail my board exams, and guess what, I worked hard, I focussed and I succeeded.
When re-orienting my practice focus to Medical Aesthetics,I was told that I would never succeed because I was neither a dermatologist nor a plastic surgeon. I think I proved everyone wrong on that one too. I was even told that I would never be able to grow a business because I did not have a formal business background. I think I did pretty well in this domain as well. When I decided to start offering sclerotherapy to my patients, I reached out to a local well known physician in the area for guidance, she told me I would never make it in this city and literally hung up on me on the phone. So I did my researched and obtained my training in Houston and have been providing sclerotherapy for the past 22 years, successfully.Telling me I can’t do something will never prevent me from trying. On the contrary. It usually serves to provide me with the motivation to prove that I can.
Throughout your journey, what has remained the one thing you would give yourself as advice, or advice to other women?
First and foremost you need to believe in what you are doing and in yourself. Second, never compromise your integrity. Stay true to who you are. Third, you need to focus on your goals and be prepared to work hard to achieve them. There will be ups and downs. That is normal. It is expected actually. What will define you is how you’ll react and manage these difficult times. At the end of the day, what truly matters is that you know deep down that you worked to the best of your abilities and with the best of intentions, whatever your expertise is.Always do right by your patients / clients. Never compromise your values and never compromise your integrity. Make sure that throughout your journey you remain happy and are keeping it real. Finally, stay focused on your goal, never throw the towel and I just keep swimming….
What does success represent to you?
My definition of success has evolved significantly over the course of my career. In my early years, it used to be about numbers and the bottom line. It was an easy way to compare my business growth year to year. Now,it’s about the relationship I’ve develop with my clients over the years and the fact that many continue to see me after 5, 10, 15 even 20 years. It’s also about the results I am able achieve on a daily basis and how it not only enhances and optimizes my patient’s features but also how it impacts them positively on a psychological level, making them feel more confident and self-assured. Finally, I equate success to the reputation I have built over my 24 years in practice. My constant efforts over the past 2 decades are serving me well today. In a booming industry that is constantly changing, in a world where business success is often driven by how well one knows how to play the social media game rather than by true expertise, in a landscape where there are now hundreds of injectors to choose from and a new clinics opening at every corner, it gives me great satisfaction to know that my old fashion ways of focussing on patient care, natural results, safe and comfortable injections and excellent service have prevailed and resulted in my practice continued growth, year after year, even to this day. That is what success represents to me today.
What do you recommend as first step for MDs who would like to start their own practice?
First, I would tell them that they need a vision and a plan. Second, I would tell them that they need to be prepared to work harder than they ever think they would need to and never count the hours they’ll have to put in. Third, I would warn them that there will be ups and downs and that this is not only ok, it is to be expected. This is the only real way that they will know what works and doesn’t for them, who they can trust or not, how they will be able to measure their determination and passion for what they are doing and if it’s worth the tougher times. Finally, I would recommend they surround yourself with like-minded individuals and try not to sweat the small stuff. To be fair, I am still working of this last advice…
What is your growth plan for the next 5-10 years?
After 24 years in practice, I’m in a really good place professionally and fortunate that I can work as much or as little as I want. My days are always full. I’ve also reached several of my professional goals in recent years. One of them is that I actually made it to being the number one single non specialist Botox injector in the entire country few years in a row. That was a really big deal for me. I also built a very successful practice that attracted a fruitful partnership with Dermapure, securing the continued growth of my clinic despite my desire to eventually start reducing my hours. I would say that my growth plan for the next 5-10 years is more about working smarter not harder. It’s more about constantly challenging myself to provide better and better results, so that word of mouth prevails and referrals continue to bring me new clients. In the near future, it will be more about increased efficiency within my working environment and more collaborative work. And now that I have divested myself of the time consuming human resources and administrative tasks thanks to my partnership with Dermapure, I plan on taking the opportunities to learn new technologies starting this summer.
How do you stay balanced?
My husband, my kids, exercise and connecting with nature. These are what keeps me grounded, sane, balanced and healthy physically and mentally.
Whether it was an amazing day at work or a more difficult one, my husband and I talk everyday about anything relating to each other’s work. He’s my sounding board and I’m his. His perspective and thoughts on whatever I bring to the table are always insightful and often allows me to see a perspective that I may not have considered.
Family is everything to me. I try to spend as much time as I can with them and see my 4 kids and 2 grand-children as often as possible. I am very lucky that despite being young adults with busy lives of their own, Sundays have become a sacred family day in our home and so they all come over at least that one time a week so we can all spend time together. To have ingrained a strong sense of family in my children and to see them enjoy and looking forward to spending this time together every week is my ultimate success and legacy to them.
I made a commitment to being more physically active 17 years ago, just before I turned 40. It was one of the best decisions of my life. I started with running and slowly integrated other physical activities. Now at 56, soon to be 57, I’m in the best physical and cardiovascular shape of my life. I love the physical and mental challenge of exercising. I even come up with some of my best ideas while on the treadmill. Plus, I really love that exercising is another way in which my husband and I connect. We train together and motivate each other. We love exercising so much that we dedicated a large in our new home, space overlooking the river, to build a beautiful home gym. It’s amazing.
The older I get, the more connected with nature I want to be. Our new home is on the Ottawa River, 45 minutes outside of the city. It is surrounded by wild life, mountain views,water and a beach. This not only provides us with the ability to practice water sports but also provides us with the peacefulness of the landscape which I will never bored of watching. My clinic is in the core of the busy Ottawa downtown which is perfect for work. But when I drive home towards the countryside, I can feel the tension of the day slowly leave my neck and shoulders and by the time I get home, I already feel calmer and more relaxed. Where we chose to live and it’s environment, plays a big part in my attempt to have a more balanced existence.In additions to these,my husband and I also have a few mini traditions that we like to observe on a regular basis, such as our Friday date nights and Saturday lunches. They are simple.
Photo Credits – Angela Holmyard Photography
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