Photo Credit: beautyinthebag.com
Sejal K. Shah, MD, FAAD is a board-certified dermatologist at her private practice SmarterSkin Dermatology in the Tribeca – Financial District of Manhattan, New York. Her journey to become a dermatologist began when she graduated summa cum laude from the University of South Alabama and moved on earn her medical degree from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. After an internship in internal medicine at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center and a two-year clinical research fellowship at the Skin of Color Center, she returned to Mount Sinai St. Luke’s-Roosevelt and completed her dermatology residency. Dr. Shah remains on the faculty in the department of dermatology where she teaches in the cosmetic clinic.
Trusted by her patients in all aspects of dermatology, Dr. Shah’s expertise shines in cosmetic dermatology such as lasers, hair loss and ethnic skin. She uses the latest in treatments and technologies to enhance each patient’s natural beauty including Botox and SculpSure.
BITB spoke with Dr. Shah about her passion for her field and the tools and techniques she uses to keep her patients looking and feeling their best.
1. Who or what inspired you to become a dermatologist?
It’s actually an interesting story. When I started medical school, I was certain I would become a plastic surgeon. However, towards the end of my first year I wasn’t so sure that was the right path for me. I spent the next couple of months trying to figure it out but by mid-summer I was still pretty torn. Around that time, I was traveling and the person sitting next to me on the plane happened to be a dermatology resident (and now a fellow dermatologist). We spent most of the ride talking about dermatology and he encouraged me to pursue it. I wasn’t a 100% sold, but early into my second year of medical school, I started working with the dermatology department and once I had some in-person exposure, I knew that it was the perfect fit for me. In dermatology, I found a perfect combination of medicine and procedures, a range of different patients, and an opportunity to have both short and long-lasting relationships with patients. Until this experience, it hadn’t occurred to me that improving the skin – whether it was treating acne, removing a skin cancer, or performing a cosmetic procedure – not only healed someone on the outside but also the inside. This is what ultimately inspired me to pursue dermatology.
2. For someone just starting to think about how to age gracefully, what is the best advice you can offer in terms of maintenance and prevention?
Slowing down the signs of aging starts with good skincare at home and lifestyle choices. I recommend starting with an anti-aging trifecta with sun protection as the foundation plus a vitamin C antioxidant serum and a retinoid. When it comes to lifestyle, don’t smoke, avoid alcohol or drink in moderation, eat a well-balanced diet rich in antioxidants and other important nutrients and with minimal high glycemic foods, get enough rest, reduce stress and have fun! I also recommend a number of in-office procedures for maintenance and prevention. Often starting with Ultherapy as a foundation to jump-start collagen production and then chemical peels or low levels lasers, such as Clear and Brilliant or laser toning with a picosecond laser, to maintain skin texture and tone. If someone has more advanced signs of aging, I generally advise more aggressive procedures.
3. What are some of the most effective tools you have in your practice to turn back the clock and keep patients’ skin looking and feeling healthy?
There have been so many advances in dermatology when comes to skin treatments and reversing signs aging, so it really is an exciting time to be a cosmetic dermatologist. My aesthetic toolbox is diverse, and I tailor all my treatments for each individual because the same treatment plan does not work for everyone. Every consultation begins with a discussion about the primary concern and education about what happens to the skin as it ages. I generally take a holistic approach and develop a treatment plan that not only targets the specific concerns but also like to incorporate treatments and home skincare regimens that will continue to work over the long term. I use a number of different types of treatments including neurotoxin (e.g. Botox, Dysport, Xeomin), injectable fillers, chemical peels, platelet-rich plasma (PRP, “vampire facial”), microneedling with or without radiofrequency, lasers, Ultherapy, and threads. Each of these tools works differently to target different signs of aging and are effective depending on the skin type and skin concern. Because a number of different changes are happening as the skin ages, the right combination of treatments can work synergistically to achieve optimal results.