New York City dermatologist Ariel Ostad, MD, recently made quite splash in the media when he described the influx of brides-to-be seeking procedures to make their hands sparkle as much as their diamonds in their engagement selfies. This once again showed that Ostad is in the know. He’s also been quoted on the Weather Channel, Health.com, Self.com, Totalbeauty.com, and Instyle magazine in recent months discussing wide range of topics from looking better bare to the latest treatments for skin cancer.
Dr. Ostad is a board-certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon and a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology. In addition to bustling and trend-setting Manhattan private practice, he is also a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Dermatology at New York University Medical Center in New York City. Despite his busy schedule, Ostad finds time to give back to many charities that are near and dear to him including New York University, the Dermatology Foundation Advanced Research, New York City Public Schools and the Saint Jude Foundation.
He recently opened up to Beauty in The Bag about his practice and why he loves what he does: Here’s what Ostad had to say:
How do you define beauty?
I think that beauty comes from within. When people feel good, it is projected to their emotional well-being. If you have a healthy, body, it yields a healthy mind. If you look in a mirror and think you look good, you will feel better. Every person should feel beautiful, get up in the morning and look in the mirror and feel satisfied with their reflection.
Now, how do you create or cultivate beauty?
The decisions we make affect us and minimize our stress. It is about taking better care of yourself, between skincare, sunscreen, and moisturizer. It then blooms from the inside out. I also believe beauty is created when an individual looks natural and not overdone. So my philosophy is to look beautiful in a natural way. Less is more. I love what I do because I help make a difference. I feel the importance of helping patients with their self-esteem and feeling beautiful both inside and out. I’m passionate about correcting minor imperfections that affect people’s self-esteem. My signature procedures are BOTOX, fillers, laser for facial rejuvenation, and liposuction.
How did you get started in the beauty business?
It all began with skin cancer surgery, specifically on my patients’ faces. I would help them get better and make them feel beautiful. Reconstruction leads to cosmetic perfection. Dealing with challenging, difficult facial reconstruction cases such as nose or lips or anywhere on the face made me very attentive to restoring the way the face looked on both functional and cosmetic aspects of the specific anatomic area.
What sets you apart from others in your space?
I realize the importance of listening to my patients, and empathizing with them is my main prerogative. I like to feel what they feel, and listen to what they are saying. Listening leads to empathy and I feel I am very sensitive to that.
What is the procedure you find most challenging?
The most challenging procedures are definitely facial reconstructions, and correcting defects from cancer. This is due to the fact that when I am in the middle of an operation, I cannot help but feel the pain that they felt and having the desire to ease that pain and avoid them feeling deformed.
What is the most exciting trend that you are seeing these days?
The paradigm shift involves choosing non-surgical procedures with minimal downtime to avoid major surgery at all costs. Technologic advances have helped create non-surgical skin tightening, fat reduction, and wrinkle removal, which in the past required surgery. Specifically, fillers and BOTOX, which in 15 minutes, can transform your face with no downtime, therapy for skin tightening, non-surgical Coolsculpting or microcannular liposuction to permanently remove fat, and non-surgical radiofrequency to improve fine lines around the eyes and mouth.
Skin Cancer Awareness month is over but Jennifer Chwalek, MD, a board certified dermatologist and Mohs micrographic surgeon at Unionsquare Dermatology in New York City, discuses skin cancer prevention with her patients all year long.
“As a Mohs surgeon, I try to use every office visit as an opportunity to educate patients about the importance of sun protection and the warning signs of skin cancer. Most skin cancers when diagnosed early have an excellent prognosis,” she says.
There is more to her thriving practice than preventing and treating skin cancer. Chwalek is also known for her subtle aesthetic touch with Fraxel and other lasers as well as her injectable prowess and her approach to treating and preventing hair loss.
She discussed it all with Beauty in The Bag. Here’s what Chwalek had to say:
How do you educate patients on prevention?
“In my office we offer full skin exams to all of our patients, even patients whose visits are cosmetic. During the visit, I discuss the importance of using sunscreen and sun protective methods throughout the year, as well as the importance of applying it correctly, reapplying it every few hours and after water exposure. I also review the different forms of skin cancer and how they present. All of our patients go home with reading material to help them better identify concerning lesions.
Do you think the skin cancer prevention message is getting through?
I do find that more and more patients are practicing sun protection and are more aware of the dangers of excessive sun exposure. However, there are still misconceptions in the general public. I still see patients who believe tanning is healthy and that getting a “base tan” can be protective prior to sunny vacations. I also find most people think sun protection can be limited to the few times a year they go to a beach. There still is a lack of understanding of the importance of using sun protection throughout the year. While most patients are aware of the dangers of melanoma, many are not aware of the potential morbidity associated with undiagnosed or untreated non-melanoma skin cancer.
What is your signature aesthetic procedure?
I would not necessarily say I have one “signature” aesthetic procedure because I think combining cosmeceuticals (antioxidant serums, retinoids, AHAs) with fillers, Botox, and laser procedures provide the best results. However, I do think fractional resurfacing (Fraxel) is one of the most versatile procedures I utilize to treat fine lines, photodamage, and scarring. I also think there is value in having occasional Fraxel treatments in order to prevent wrinkles and improve the texture and tone of the skin.
How do you address hair loss with female patients? Is it hard to broach?
Hair loss is a very emotional issue for many patients. Many patients come to me with concerns about hair thinning. Occasionally I make the diagnosis during skin exams in patients who aren’t even aware there is a problem. Hair loss can be due to genetic factors, medications, systemic illnesses such as thyroid disease, dietary factors, and underlying scalp conditions, as well as hair care practices. The key is to figure out what is causing the hair loss. Unfortunately, our understanding of hair loss as well as treatment options have been lacking. The good news is there has been some promising research in the field over the past few years and this will likely result in better ways of treating hair loss.
What hair loss treatments are most effective today?
Treatment for hair loss depends on the cause. In the case of male or female pattern hair loss, the most effective medical treatments are minoxidil (Rogaine) and 5-alpha reductase inhibitors (i.e. Propecia/Avodart, which are used predominantly to treat male pattern hair loss). In certain patients, surgical restoration is an excellent option. For patients with hair loss due to thyroid or dietary issues, correcting the underlying medical cause will usually correct the hair loss with time. Hair care practices (over washing, excessive heat, color, or brushing) can cause breakage and prevent growth and lead to dull, brittle hair. Newer hair care products can provide some protection from humidity, UV, and thermal damage.
Tell us about some of the trends you are seeing with your patients at the practice.
More patients are educated about the importance of sun protection and the role diet and exercise plays in having beautiful skin. There is increasing interest in the use of non-invasive treatments for preventing photoaging, tightening skin, and treating unwanted fat that has not responded to diet and exercise. In our office, in addition to our lasers, we have several radiofrequency and ultrasound devices as well as Coolsculpting to target trouble areas. As summer approaches more patients are interested in Miradry for treating excessive sweating as well.
When most of us think about dermatology, we think skin care products, acne, injectables, and other anti-aging techniques, not necessarily microscopes, skin samples, and pathology, but that is where Clay Cockerell, MD, shines. This specialty is called dermatopathology, and Cockerell, a past president of the American Association of Dermatology, has trained more than 100 dermatopathology fellows in the last 20 years, many of whom are now leaders in this field.
Cockerell, who practices at the University of Texas Southwestern General Dermatology Clinic in Dallas, talked to Beauty in the Bag about this niche and some of the advances that he has helped to pioneer.
Tell us a little about what a dermopathologist does?
We diagnose skin diseases under the microscope from biopsies taken from dermatologists and other doctors. We also see patients in some cases and correlate what we see under the microscope with that the patient’s skin condition looks like. Some of us also treat patients in addition to making microscopic diagnoses.
Bleach baths have been getting some attention lately. What are they and when are they necessary?
They are very useful for people with eczema, mostly children, especially if their skin is infected. However, they are also useful in people who carry pathogenic bacteria such as staph and are prone to infected hair follicles (folliculitis). Recently, they have been shown to have a direct anti-inflammatory effect so they may also be useful in other skin diseases such as acne, rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis, and even psoriasis.
Tell us about CLn® BodyWash and how it can change lives.
It is a body wash/cleanser that is formulated with sodium hypochlorite, which is also in bleach and essentially acts like a bleach bath and can be used in the same way with the advantage that it can also be used in the shower. A number of patients with eczema have used it with extremely good results and it has allowed many of them to be able to discontinue antibiotics and other medications such as cyclosporine, which is a kidney transplant immunosuppressive drug that may be required in severe cases. When patients have to take antibiotics for long periods of time, it increases the chances that they will become colonized or infected with a strain that is resistant to antibiotics such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which can be very difficult to treat and can lead to serious complications, even death. Thus, by using a bleach formulated product like CLn BodyWash, patients can lessen their risk of developing infections with these types of dangerous bacteria.
What is your practice mantra?
Our mission statement is: We are committed to providing the highest quality, cost-effective, and most timely dermatopathology services possible. Our vision is to expand our services to our community while retaining a supportive and caring work environment. Our shared goals and dedicated teamwork support physicians, patients, and fellow employees through leadership and education.
Why do you love what you do?
I enjoy solving problems and working with patients to improve their lives. I also enjoy teaching and sharing what I have learned with other doctors, both colleagues and those in training.
What is the most rewarding thing you do for your patients?
As a dermatologist and dermatopathologist, it is very gratifying to be able to evaluate a difficult case and solve it so that the patient can receive the best therapy. I enjoy both making diagnoses but also actually treating and interacting with patients. I still have a vivid recollection of seeing a woman come to see me who had an endocrine problem that was readily apparent to me but had not been diagnosed for many years. We referred her for a work up and she was found to have a pituitary tumor that was removed and her problem got much better. Had this been allowed to go on much longer, she could have suffered significant complications, even blindness. This is a good example how being a clinical dermatologist and dermatopathologist can be a major asset in taking care of patients.