Dr. Monika Kiripolsky is a board-certified dermatologist and fellowship-trained cosmetic surgery and laser surgeon. She is also the newest member of the Obagi Skin Health Institute in Beverly Hills, where she works with Zein Obagi, M.D. Dr. Kiripolski has a keen interest in treating the most common dermatologic conditions, including skin cancer, acne, rosacea, eczema, sun damage, hyperpigmentation, and of course, aging skin. Born and raised in California, Dr. Kiripolsky earned her B.S. from the University of California, Los Angeles. She attended the prestigious Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and was selected to pursue additional dermatologic surgery training in Barcelona, Spain. She completed her three-year residency program in dermatology at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and a fellowship in laser and cosmetic surgery, accredited by the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery.
How did you meet Zein Obagi and come to join the Obagi Skin Health Institute?
I have always been a strong advocate of Dr. Obagi’s advanced protocols and science-based solutions for healthy skin restoration and rejuvenation, and I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with him. The Obagi Skin Health Institute is an 8,000 square feet, fully equipped treatment facility where we specialize in the most advanced and effective solutions for complete skin health restoration for every skin type and condition. I have known of Dr. Obagi and his accomplishments for years (ever since I first started my dermatology residency). I was fortunate enough to meet Dr. Obagi over a year ago and was instantly impressed by his knowledge, enthusiasm, and compassion. He is a true pioneer in our field, having taught hundreds of physicians all over the world. Every day, I pinch myself thinking about how lucky I am to be working with him. His passion for helping our patients to achieve healthy skin is contagious and because he is such a positive, strong leader, he has one of the most amazingly talented and happy groups of people that I’ve ever experienced working with in his office. Despite all that he has accomplished, Dr. Obagi always remains open to new research and ideas (you just don’t see that among many people who have accomplished as much as he has). This is very refreshing and inspirational to me.
What are the three areas of dermatology that interest you most and why?
It’s hard to narrow down my favorite areas of focus in terms of cosmetic dermatology, as there are quite a few! During my training, I conducted research in cosmetic surgery and lasers with a special focus on advanced therapies for varicose veins, dermal fillers and botulinum toxins, and laser and light based treatments. There are so many new advancements in development, that I enjoy being on the cutting edge of our specialty in dermatology. Through Dr. Obagi’s leadership, I’ve become focused upon restoring “healthy” skin to my patients (skin that is firm/tight, even in texture, uniform in color, well-hydrated, and free from conditions such as acne/rosacea/melasma/etc.). I also enjoy restoring volume to patients’ faces through the use of various fillers as well as their own fat (“autologous fat transfer”). We all lose volume in our faces as we age (losing bone, muscle, and fat), and this causes our skin to hang because some of the structure below it has been lost. As such, I enjoy looking at each patient’s face and determining where he/she needs volume replaced to restore a youthful, well-rested appearance, while also paying close attention to the proper proportions of each patient’s face. I also enjoy treating unsightly leg veins (through sclerotherapy, lasers, as well as endovenous laser ablation). Patients are usually incredibly happy with the results—even those who have had their leg veins treated multiple times in the past by outside practitioners. As with most things, technique is key when treating leg veins; I’ve had incredible mentors and have performed hundreds of cases, so I feel very confident in my technique and the results speak for themselves. Finally, I genuinely enjoy performing liposuction. It’s somewhat of an art, determining where each patient needs “sculpting” and I’m pretty meticulous in terms of making sure I don’t set down the cannula until I’m confident that I’ve done a thorough job in terms of getting rid of every last fat cell.
Can you share some of your personal favorite skincare and cosmetic products that you can’t live without?
Because of the benefits of a topical retinoid (vitamin A derivative), pretty much every dermatologist uses one daily. I like ZO Skin Health’s Ossential® Radical Night Repair as it is potent—in terms of exfoliating skin, promoting collagen regeneration, evening skin color, etc.—yet it also is in an elegant-feeling, yet effective (microsphere delivery) vehicle. I also like ZO Skin Health’s Offects® Exfoliating Polish and use it daily while I’m in the shower to exfoliate/polish and stimulate my skin. I also use my Clarisonic brush about three times per week to keep my skin looking flawless. ZO Skin Health’s Ossential® Growth Factor Serum is something I use every night and the line’s Oclipse® Sunscreen + Primer SPF 30 is something I wear every morning. The sunblock has melanin in it, which provides extra broad-spectrum coverage against the sun’s harmful UV rays. Furthermore, because of the tint—and how it feels velvety when I apply it—I even wear it as a primer when I go out to dinner at night. When I first started using the ZO line, I wore much more makeup than I do now. Now, my skin seems to appear more “glowing” when I’m wearing no makeup or only the sunblock with the primer than it does after I spend 10-20 minutes applying makeup. This is wonderful because my skin looks better without makeup than it does with it; I have extra time every day to spend on other things.
What HOT treatment are women in Beverly Hills asking for now?
Women in Beverly Hills are always cognizant of having healthy, radiant skin. You can spend all of the money in the world on nice clothing and jewelry. But, if you don’t have beautiful, healthy skin, none of the other stuff really matters.
Trends I see currently involve hand treatments (restoring volume, treating hand veins, and lasering off sunspots). It used to be said that “the eyes are the window to the soul,” but, the hands are the window to one’s true age. Now, through the use of fillers, as well as treatment of unsightly veins and sun spots, one’s hands no longer have to divulge your true age. The same is true for the neck and décolletage. We have so many options in terms of treating skin in these areas that it is no longer the norm to have nice facial skin but older-appearing skin on the neck, décolletage, hands etc.
Which lasers and light-based systems do you recommend for acne, rosacea, pigmentation, and sun damage?
I love the result of photodynamic therapy (PDT) for acne/rosacea as well as for sunspots and pre-skin cancers. It is a relatively simple procedure, but, I do it with a bit of a twist. I start by performing microdermabrasion on the skin before applying the topical Levulan (to allow it to penetrate better and more evenly). I also add intense pulse light (IPL) as well as pulse dye light (PDL) to the overall treatment—to address red and brown spots—in addition to exposing the treatment areas to blue light, which further activates the Levulan to target and shrink oil glands and destroy pre-cancerous cells.
The Q-switched alexandrite as well as the Q-switched Nd:YAG lasers also are good for brown spots and the KTP as well as the pulse-dye lasers are excellent for “broken capillaries” and red spots.
There are so many lasers on the market and there is not one laser that is best for every skin condition and concern. Thus, knowing when to use each laser (and what specific settings/parameters to set each to) is key to successful treatment. Lasers are a passion of mine because they can achieve such tremendous results.