Mary P. Lupo, MD, remembers exactly where she was and what she was doing when the first filler received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The year was 1983, and the filler was Zyderm collagen. She knew it was the beginning of something big, and asked her then supervisor to incorporate injections into the core curriculum via a resident cosmetic clinic.
Lupo, a board-certified dermatologist and clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, was right and remains on the front lines of minimally invasive cosmetic surgery to this day. Now, some three decades later, Zyderm and other collagen-based fillers have been usurped by a host of neurotoxins and hyaluronic-acid injectables that constantly top the list of most requested non-surgical procedures. Lupo recently participated in the clinical trial that led to a new crow’s feet indication for Botox Cosmetic (onabotulinumtoxinA).
And she remains the director of Tulane’s Resident Cosmetic Clinic, where she has been teaching students about fillers, Botox, sclerotherapy, chemical peels, and laser therapies since 1984.
Lupo talked to Beauty in the Bag about her illustrious career and why she still loves what she does.
Here’s what she had to say:
How do you define beauty?
Physical beauty is about the balance and symmetry unique to each face. Inner beauty is about centered confidence, integrity, and knowing where you fit in the universe.
What is your signature procedure?
Non-surgical rejuvenation. My main artistry is with fillers and neuromodulators, i.e. injectables. They allow me to enhance the face by balancing the shape and allowing me to enhance the contours and convexities, while diminishing the shadows and concavities. I use lasers to complement my injections.
How did you get started in the beauty business?
As a resident, in 1983, Zyderm collagen injections received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval. I went to my Tulane University program chair and said “I think this concept will be big.” I asked to start a clinic where, as residents, we could practice on patients. It was the FIRST residency program to have injections as part of the core curriculum. I continue to staff that clinic to this day.
What sets you apart from others in your space?
My aesthetic eye and good hand-eye coordination. I see what is missing and replace it, but subtly. My patients look better, not “done.”
Who are your beauty inspirations?
Audrey Hepburn, Greta Garbo, Grace Kelly, Lena Horne.
What is your beauty mantra?
It is a process, not a procedure. It requires constant vigilance and I prefer early, little steps over waiting too long and having to be aggressive.
What is the procedure you find most challenging?
Sculptra, but doing it right separates the men from the boys, so to speak.
What charities do you support?
Second Harvest Food Bank; NO City Park and WWII museum, the Dermasurgery Fund of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, and the Legacy Fund of the Women’s Dermatologic Society. And of course, my Alma Mater, Tulane.
Why do you love what you do?
It is science and art combined. Every face is different, so I can do something new every day.