Everyone knows New York City cosmetic dermatologic surgeon Howard Sobel, MD, and his groundbreaking skincare line—Doctor’s Dermatologic Formula. Today many doctors boast their own skincare line, but Sobel’s DDF was one of the first out of the gate, and remains one of the most coveted physician skincare lines out there.
His innovation didn’t stop there. Sobel opened one of the first full service day spas alongside his cosmetic surgery center—the Skin and Spa NY Institute of Aesthetic Dermatology and Laser Surgery. The facility offers a full menu of spa, cosmetic, and medical dermatology procedures. “I have combined modern technology with over 30 years of experience to pioneer the union of dermatology with cosmetic surgery. I can treat a child with a rash, his mother with some post baby liposuction, and his grandmother with a “liquid face lift,” he tells BeautyInThe Bag.
Sobel received his degree in medicine from the Albert Einstein School of Medicine in New York, NY, and completed his residency in dermatology and dermatologic surgery at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia.
How do you define and create beauty?
Beauty is always in the eyes of the beholder. My idea of beauty is making someone beautiful by enhancing their own natural inherited features and restoring and maintaining their youthful appearance. When someone feels beautiful on the outside, they feel better inside.
What is your signature surgery/procedure/product/service?
My mission is to provide long-lasting results using the latest advances in beauty treatments to provide non-invasive, worthwhile effects that can quickly and safely enhance one’s appearance. I do micro-tumescent liposuction in my office accredited operating room, using a power assisted cannula requiring only local anesthesia. This is the smartest and safest way to perform liposuction. I also use a combination of different fillers, Botox®, and lasers to create a non-invasive “face lift” to turn back the clock. I advise my patients to apply DDF’s Weightless Defense Oil-Free Hydrator daily due to its lightweight formula with broad-spectrum protection and antioxidants. DDF was one of the first skincare companies to have antioxidants that fight free radicals from damaging healthy skin cells. I also recommend DDF Pro-Retinol Energizing Moisturizer for anyone over 25 to increase collagen production and skin cell turnover.
How did you get started in the beauty business?
In 1991, I started a skincare line called DDF because many of my patients were coming into my office with skincare problems created from not understanding what skincare products to use or were just using the wrong products for their skin issues. I used my dermatology skills to find the most efficacious ingredients and then partner with a biochemist to create formulations that would really work. DDF was one of the first dermatologist-complete skincare lines that helped create the standard that small and large skincare companies would follow and recreate similar cosmeceutical products that really work.
What is your beauty mantra?
My mantra is “CLEANSE, TREAT, MOISTURIZE AND PROTECT”—which was a change from the previously followed mantra, “IF IT IS WET, DRY IT AND IF IT IS DRY, MOISTURIZE IT.”
What is the procedure you find most challenging?
To create an individual look for each patient. I do not want them to look “done” or overdone. Using a combination of fillers, Botox and lasers, I want my patient to look like themselves, only younger and more radiant. I really dislike people who look like a cabbage patch doll from too much filler.
What charities do you support?
I support many charities all year long. Just to name a few—Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, NYU Langone, The Women’s Project, Southampton Animal Shelter, Park Avenue Synagogue, The Young People’s Chorus, and Wizo. Last year, I donated my home for a fundraiser for the Ellen Hermanson Foundation for Breast Cancer.
Why do you love what you do?
I find it very rewarding to help someone either return to or maintain their more youthful look. Their increased confidence makes them happier and in turn makes me very happy.
Tell me more about DDF and how it became a household name?
DDF is different because the products contain highly effective ingredients in a way which is easy to use and understand. Each DDF skin line contains the “Cleanse, Treat, Moisturize, Protect” protocol which helps to streamline the complicated process of choosing the best products for each person’s skin, ultimately making the overwhelming process of choosing products much easier for the consumer. To achieve better skin than ever thought possible, individuals should care for their skin like a dermatologist would using a personalized DDF protocol.
When actress Angelina Jolie says or does something, photographers and paparazzi point, click and pursue. Whether on the red carpet, a movie set, or soap box, she has a way of capturing our collective attention.
And she has done it again.
Jolie has championed human rights and international adoption and is now doing the same for breast cancer prevention. It’s always personal with Jolie, but this time it seems almost intimate. Jolie underwent a preventive mastectomy to reduce her risk of breast cancer after testing positive for the breast cancer genes and told the world all about it in a New York Times Op-Ed piece.
As a result of Jolie’s shocking admission, doctor’s phones began ringing off the hook. If it can happen to Angelina Jolie, can it happen to me? Should I be tested? What is the next step?
Mutated copies of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes increase a women’s risk for developing breast and/or ovarian cancer. Jolie’s mother, actress Marcheline Bertrand, died from ovarian cancer in 2007 at 56, which is why she sought genetic testing.
There are no hard and fast rules or easy answers when it comes to gene testing. In general, genetic counseling and/or testing is reserved for people with a personal or familial history of breast or ovarian cancer. This can be on your mother or father’s side of the family.
The first step is to schedule a consultation with a genetic counselor to see if you are a candidate, says Heather Hampel, MS, CGC, the co-director of the division of human genetics in the department of internal medicine at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center’s Comprehensive Cancer Center in Columbus, Ohio.
If you do test positive for the genes, a mastectomy can dramatically reduce your chances of ever developing breast cancer. It doesn’t eliminate your risk, it just lowers it substantially. Women who are at risk for ovarian cancer may also opt to have their ovaries removed.
The good news is that breast reconstruction options are much better today than ever before. Reconstructed breasts look and feel as natural as the real thing. This is because surgeons have a better understanding of how breast cancer spreads and travels, which has allowed them to develop surgeries that can spare the skin and the nipples—while still removing all traces of cancer, explains Tracy M. Pfeifer, MD, MS, a New York City-based plastic surgeon.
In addition, the advent of form-stable, gummy bear breast implants have also helped improve women’s satisfaction with the cosmetic results of breast reconstruction. Other advances include the use of fat to soften the appearance of implants, Pfeifer says.
Removing an organ to reduce cancer risk is a lot different than removing an organ with cancer. It’s not an easy decision to make, and all surgeries—even preventive ones—do confer their share of risks. “Angelina Jolie’s willingness to discuss her personal situation and choices will help educate many women and that’s a very good thing,” Pfeifer adds.
As it stands, seven out of 10 women eligible for breast reconstruction following cancer surgery are not being informed of their options.
Los Angeles-based cosmetic surgeon Alexander Rivkin, MD, has built a thriving practice, Westside Aesthetics, out of performing non-surgical procedures including liquid nose jobs that use fillers instead of scalpels and blades. He is a cosmetic surgeon and an assistant clinical instructor in the department of Medicine, Division of Dermatology at UCLA. The ENT-turned-beauty-guru really helped put the non-surgical rhinoplasty on the map, and has performed more than 4,000 of them.
And to hear him tell it, “it’s been a great ride” and he is nowhere near done.
What is your signature surgery?
Non-surgical rhinoplasty or nose recontouring.
That’s very unique. Tell us more about the benefits of non-surgical rhinoplasty?
It works, it’s simple and patients get a significant benefit without the downtime of surgery. When the procedure is performed by an experienced injector on a good candidate, the results are really fantastic.
Who is a candidate for non-surgical rhinoplasty?
There are a variety of categories of patients who do well with non-surgical rhinoplasty. One thing that it can’t do is physically reduce the size of the nose. It can augment it, but it can’t take anything away. Still, when you make something straight, it looks smaller. It’s an optical illusion.
Non-surgical rhinoplasty can also be used as a primary procedure for people who have never had surgery. It can camouflage a bump, augment the bridge, or raise and define the tip. I can also perform the procedure in some people who need revision nose surgery, but don’t want to go under the knife again. It is a considerably safer and easier option in these cases.
What about ethnic populations?
Yes, non-surgical rhinoplasty is an alternative for people from many different backgrounds. It can be very effective for Asian Americans and African Americans who want to refine their tip and augment their nasal bridge. These patients may be more likely to develop bad scarring due to the thickness of their skin, so nonsurgical rhinoplasty is also less risky.
Do patients ever request celebrity noses?
No. People don’t say that to me. They come in with issues such as a bump, droopy tip or a twisted nose.
What fillers do you use for non-surgical rhinoplasty?
I always start with a temporary filler such as Radiesse or Perlane, which last about nine months to a year. Once it fades, I can replace it with Artefill, which is a permanent filler.
How do you define beauty?
To me, beauty is individualized. My goal is to enhance and optimize a person’s natural features. I value symmetry and balance, but it must enhance who they are, and not make them look like someone else.
What sets you apart from others in your space?
Everything I do is non surgical. I don’t do surgery anymore. I can safely push the boundaries of what I can do with injectables after doing about 4,000 noses. I invented a procedure, and its been wonderful to see the non surgical rhinoplasty technique adopted by so many doctors all over the country.
My experience injecting noses is why I am not afraid to try to help people who have had three rhinoplasties already and nobody else will touch. I am their last resort. They are out of options and to be able to really do something for them is a real honor.
How did you get started in the beauty business?
I received my undergraduate degree from Columbia University in New York City and my medical degree from the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, CT. I did a residency in Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine. I was a practicing ear, nose, and throat doctor but I really wanted to do something more artistic. Botox and fillers were new and it was really exciting. It’s been a great ride.