Splitting his time between his practices in Chicago and LA, alongside participation in a steady stream of clinical studies and authorship/oversight of countless peer-reviewed medical journal articles, plastic surgeon Julius Few doesn’t nip off for many restorative spa visits—a fact that bums him out a bit. But now that he’s Chief Beauty & Aesthetics Officer of Biân, a members-only, 25,000 square foot holistic wellness mecca in the Windy City, he’s finally carving out time for some much-needed self-care.
“I work more than I should,” concedes the Harvard-educated Few, a clinical professor at University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine who previously served as assistant and associate professor of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, where he developed and founded the Aesthetic Plastic Surgery and Breast Surgery Fellowship programs. “But Biân is an oasis right at home here in Chicago. It’s easy; I can do this. As a member, I’m typically there four days a week for private training and the massage and wellness program. It really does help.”
A longtime pal of culinary legend and Biân co-founder Kevin Boehm, Few said he quickly saw the intrinsic value in the concept, which bundles a concierge medical practice, extensive fitness and yoga, chef-driven artisanal cuisine, and cutting edge aesthetics under one community-centric roof. Throw in the fact that Chicago is the first of possibly multiple locations, and Few says he couldn’t resist. “The opportunity to work with one of my closest friends on something that has never been done before is really the definition of what I live for.”
“The opportunity to work with one of my closest friends on something that has never been done before is really the definition of what I live for.”
Waiting Rooms Are So Last-Century
Taking a page from his own book, Few designed the beauty and aesthetics piece of the Biân puzzle with his own Chicago-based Few Institute in mind. With that practice, which opened 15 years ago, Few chose the then-unprecedented path of eliminating the standard reception-area waiting room. Instead, patients’ visits are carefully mapped out far in advance of their arrival.
“We have this elaborate system that helps to curate the timing—it’s almost like air traffic control,” Few says of the Institute. “We know what room a given person is going to days in advance of their arrival and have planned their whole experience. So really our skincare in the office setting was designed to be more like a Peninsula-like experience than even the Peninsula,” he adds, referring to one of Chicago’s top spas. With Biân, notes Few, “I just took it a step further. While we deliver a great experience in the office setting at Few Institute, at Biân it’s even more like a Zen wellness environment.”
Hydrafacial Meets IV Drip
A pioneer in what he calls “stackable treatments” (he’s even trademarked the term), Few is all about both maximizing the time spent safeguarding our looks as well as a preventative, “pro-aging” approach to beauty. Yes, he’s a plastic surgeon. But he’s also a proponent of the smaller tweaks that just might eliminate the desire for a facelift altogether. At Biân, these include a tightly edited menu of wrinkle-relaxing neurotoxins (Botox and Dysport), fillers, lasers, and non-surgical skin-tightening procedures including Venus Freeze and Venus Legacy, which pair radiofrequency with electromagnetic energy to tackle unwanted ab flab and cellulite.
Facials range from the three-step Express to the far more elaborate Stackable Trio, Luxury and Hydrafacial options, which weave-in everything from aromatherapy, lymphatic drainage massage, and old-school extractions to LED light therapy and customized serum boosters.
But here’s what has Few super-excited: the option for pairing, say, a Hydrafacial with a glutathione drip. “We’ve incorporated IV therapy into facial care,” he says. “I’m unaware of any spa setting in the world doing this type of stackable treatment.” Better yet, Few, who serves as section editor for Aesthetic Surgery Journal, is documenting the results with the help of a full-time research fellow.
“We’re actually evaluating, at a clinical level, what this synergy can do,” he notes. “I really wanted to design some rigorous studies that would ultimately allow us to track the benefits. Nobody’s done that yet. In the spa world, it’s very anecdotal. A treatment feels good, and looks good, but what is it really doing?”
Despite his research leanings, Few is determined that his new digs offer the level of relaxation and stress reduction that is core to the spa ethos. After all, that’s what he’s getting from the stunning new facility himself. “Biân [beauty] is a true hybrid, or marriage, between a classic spa environment and an academic plastic surgery environment,” he says. “And the two are coming together in a way that doesn’t feel like, ‘Hey, I’m part of a study.’ It’s a really exciting platform.”
Dana Wood is the Contributing Beauty Editor at InsidersGuidetoSpas.com. She has been writing about beauty and wellness for decades, and no matter how many times she taps the words “hyaluronic acid” or “healing modalities” into her keyboard, it never gets old. Dana spent a total of 20 years at Condé Nast, serving as Beauty Director for W, Cookie, and Brides. A transplanted New Yorker, Dana now lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. Her peak spa experience? Dana says it’s impossible to decide between the Coco-Mango Body Buff at the Driftwood Spa at Jakes in Treasure Beach, Jamaica, The Land of Beautiful Waters Anti-Aging Facial at Four Seasons Nevis, and the 80-minute 5 Senses massage at the Spa by JW in Marco Island, Florida.