(Excerpt, Q&A with Dr. A) By Sylvia Pratt, Medical Correspondent
Why did you decide to go into aesthetic medicine?
I went to aesthetics because I’ve always been passionate about making things around me beautiful. I am an artist, a self-proclaimed one (chuckles)—probably of the Renaissance era since I want to make things beautiful. On a serious note, I’ve always been interested in the aging process and wanted to discover ways to delay it. I initially thought that aesthetic procedures will help me fund my reverse aging research but I was quite wrong. There is huge overhead in this type of endeavor and margins are slim unlike what majority of people surmise. You have to be really passionate about making people love themselves externally so they can love their inner selves better.
What made you interested in studying hair?
Regenerative medicine is a relatively new field and its application in skin and hair rejuvenation excites me. By drawing a patient’s own blood and harvesting PRP (platelet rich plasma) one can stimulate hair growth by applying and injecting it into the scalp. Hair looks more natural that way compared to the conventional hair transplant.
My dermatologist friends have skewed away from doing hair fellowships and further studies in hair because they do not want to be associated with the salon industry, and I get that. Majority of them are not doing aesthetics not only because they are not trained to do it but also for a variety of reasons. Some assumptions include aesthetics cheapening the profession, and the difficulty in managing expectations of patients for these elective procedures.
Wait, are you saying that some dermatologists are not trained to do aesthetics like Botox and fillers?
Dermatologists are trained in treating skin conditions and diseases like psoriasis, acne and skin cancer. I was fortunate to be trained by the dermatology faculty for several months during my residency. Interestingly, majority of them do not practice aesthetics. Cosmetic procedures are not a requisite to graduate in dermatology [residency]. Cosmetic procedures are also not confined to dermatologists and plastic surgeons unlike public perception. Plastic surgeons are formally trained in doing surgeries such as skin grafts for burn and some breast reconstruction. A medical doctor has to be incredibly devoted in learning about non-surgical and minimally invasive aesthetics if one wants to pursue that route. Of course, it also requires someone with artistic eye and dexterity to deliver good results. Not all doctors can and should practice aesthetics.
Walk us through your journey with aesthetic medicine.
I’ve always wanted to do aesthetics after college. The field inspired me to survive the hardships in medical school…that towards the end I will be able to combine art and medicine in my practice. I did all of my electives in plastic surgery during medical school but the economic recession hit and many people dissuaded me to pursue the specialty at that time. Several plastic surgery offices closed down leaving the surgeons scrambling to find alternative careers and jobs in wound care.
Before, during and after residency, I’ve attended several trainings and conferences in dermatologic and surgical aesthetics, hoping one day I will be able to build my own practice. I’ve been fortunate as well to find several mentors in the trade which is key. The confidence I help my patients regain after I perform cosmetic treatments gives me great satisfaction, and that drives me to do better each day as I improve my craft.