Photo Credit: skinlaser.com
Washington DC-based laser dermatologist Tina Alster, MD, is a true Renaissance woman. A pioneer in laser dermatology, Alster broke through the glass ceiling early on to claim her place in a field largely dominated by male engineers and scientists. She founded The Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery in 1990, as the first private practice in the world exclusively dedicated to the development and delivery of advanced laser skin treatments, and has also launched W for Men, an offshoot that focuses solely on male skin care. Most recently she opened a new facility in Chevy Chase, Maryland where dermatologists Rebecca Kazin and Elizabeth Tanzi treat patients.
Alster has been listed in America’s Best Doctors, Town & Country’s Best Cosmetic Surgeons, America’s Elite 1000, Washingtonian’s Best Doctors, Marquis Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare, Who’s Who of American Women, to name a few. She was selected as Allure’s Influencer of the Year and received the Women’s Dermatologic Society Legacy Award. Alster has served as a consultant to Lancôme, Clarisonic, La Mer, and continues to influence new product development and industry direction.
She took some time to chat with us about how her skincare line cuts through the clutter, the importance of paying it forward and what she does every day to keep her skin looking fresh and dewy. Here’s what we learned:
1. What sparked your interest in lasers and light?
I was always a bit of a science nerd. Physics and chemistry were two of my favorite subjects, so it was natural that I was attracted to lasers and light, but when I was a resident I met a patient who made me realize I had found my niche. She was a 44-year-old who had a dark facial port-wine stain. She had never displayed her birthmark to her husband or teenage son and would only remove a small portion of her camouflage makeup for me to assess her condition. I investigated a new laser procedure that targeted blood vessels, which are in numerous supplies in port-wine stain birthmarks. The more I researched the subject, the more interested I became. I applied for a specialized laser surgery fellowship in Boston in lieu of my final year of dermatology training at Yale University in New Haven, Conn.. I was so fortunate that I was introduced to this burgeoning field of medicine at such an early time in my career. The patient’s persistence paid off for both of us– I found my calling and she ended up having her vascular birthmark removed.
2. What is your signature procedure?
The ‘Megacombination Treatment’ which includes Ulthera or Thermage for face/neck tightening, followed by injectable fillers/toxins and vascular laser or intense pulsed light (IPL) for redness reduction, followed by nonablative Fraxel laser treatment and or microneedling for fine lines, pore, and/or scar reduction. All treatments are performed in a single sitting!
3. What new products/technologies are you most excited about?
Kybella injections are a game changer for those with double chins. I’m a big fan of microneedling which I’ve been using to reduce wrinkles (particularly on the upper lip), pores on the nose and scars. It’s safe for use on all skin types and does not produce the redness common after laser skin resurfacing.
4. Tell us about your SKIN IS IN product line.
SKIN IS IN was conceived with the realization that most people are confused about the wide array of skin care products on the market. After decades of cherry-picking skincare products for me and my patients, I wanted to take the confusion out of skincare. Knowing that good basic skincare is the foundation for healthy looking skin, I developed separate daily skincare kits for children, teens, men and women. Each contains a cleanser, a daytime antioxidant moisturizer with sun protection factor, and a nighttime peptide rejuvenating cream.
5. How do you keep your skin looking so youthful?
Daily use of my SKIN IS IN CE Ferulic antioxidant serum followed by SKIN IS IN BB Cream as well as twice annual megacombination treatments.
6. You often mentor young dermatologists. Why is this so important to you?
I believe in paying it forward. I have established undergraduate and graduate scholarship endowments for women pursuing careers in medicine at my alma mater, Duke University in Durham, NC. There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs. It’s not always easy, but its worth it and I want to help others realize this.