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Heeling Soles

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Women who love heels are used to the pain: the schlepping of the emergency sneakers, the back aches, the bunions, the lectures from feminists and doctors alike. Dr. Suzanne Levine, however, is one podiatric surgeon who understands the importance of a good pair of sexy, expensive shoes. She'd never suggest that a woman endure dowdy orthopedics in the name of something as mundane as health. "When you see someone who's kind of frumpy," Levine says, "look at the shoes. You'll see it's a functional shoe. Not spunky. Not original. And it tells you a lot." So she doesn't look askance at patients who choose to step out in stilettos. "I just think the idea of putting on a heel is very lifting in spirit," Levine explains, "and we all need that."

That said, the doctor is no advocate of suffering for beauty, either, so she came up with a laser remedy for high-heel aficionados called the Cool Touch. The pulsating light stimulates collagen growth on the balls of the feet -- creating little mounds of pillowy, cushioning flesh -- which, Levine swears, makes long-term standing in a pair of Manolos seem reasonable. One Cool Touch session at her Upper East Side clinic costs $400, and generally three visits are needed, with a follow-up every nine months to a year. "I have very tender feet," says Barbara Martin, "and they were down to the point where it was strictly bone-to-floor. If we went to a formal affair, I could make it to the table, but then I'd have to sit the whole evening. But after three sessions, I danced all night!"

On December 6, Levine will cart her laser to Bloomingdale's luxury shoe salon so that customers shopping for Jimmy Choo, Blahnik, or Christian Louboutin footwear can fortify their feet gratuit. The doctor will also offer "foot facials," which she promises leave feet feeling like two little baby behinds. But the bad news for anyone dreaming of, say, Lacroix en crocodile is that Levine's laser is quite unable to plump up your bank account.


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