APR 2014

MedEsthetics—business education for medical practitioners—provides the latest noninvasive cosmetic procedures, treatment trends, product and equipment reviews, legal issues and medical aesthetics industry news.

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58 APRIL 2014 | Med Esthetics BEYOND THE SURFACE The fi rst involved his grandfather, a Cossak who left Russia in the 1920s, settling in Syria. Fair-skinned, blond and blue-eyed, he suffered from chronic skin cancer. "They cut so many skin cancers, his face eventually deformed," says Dr. Obagi. "And that scared me so much. I said, 'How can you not prevent this?'" The next disaster occurred when Dr. Obagi's older sister received second- and third- degree burns—resulting in bad scarring—when a pan of boiling water fell on her back. The treatment involved keeping her immobile on her stomach for four months. "I saw the frustration on the doctors' faces in treating her, and I said, 'Maybe I could be of better help or I could contribute positively to medicine,'" Dr. Obagi recalls. "So I made up my mind: I want to be a doctor." He didn't waste any time, and entered Damas- cus Medical School immediately after high school, graduating in 1972. The same year, eager to escape prejudice against Russian refugees in Syria and continue his medical education, Dr. Obagi moved to Detroit. He did his internship, but was unable to secure a residency in dermatology. Instead, he went into pathology, which satisfi ed his natural inquisitiveness, but ultimately proved too narrowly focused. "I'm a clinical guy, I like to talk to people," says Dr. Obagi. "I don't like to sit behind a microscope and just do biopsies and autopsies." He completed a dermatology residency while serving as a medical doctor in the U.S. Navy, stationed in Hawaii, then spent three years as a dermatologist at the naval hospital in San Diego before opening his fi rst practice in Chula Vista, California. At the time, the fi eld of aesthetic medicine was a vastly different landscape, and it began to frustrate him. "The practice of dermatology was really very limited," Dr. Obagi recalls. "It focused on the skin surface. It focused on treating symptoms—not on searching and correcting the source of the problem." He wanted to get to that source, to understand why the same treatment did not work alike on African-American skin, Caucasian skin and Latino skin, for example. The prior decade had laid a unique foundation for his new quest. Pathology had given him a keen understanding of the "functionality of the body," he says. His time in the naval hospital, where he treated numerous scars and wounds, solidifi ed his love of dermatology and crystallized what had been lacking in his work. "I wanted to do research. I wanted to fi gure out why skin cancer happens, how to prevent skin cancer, how do we treat scars," he says. "The Navy didn't feel that this was really the thing they wanted to spend budget money on, so I left," he says. And so, behind of the walls of his newly opened practice in Chula Vista, he embarked on a two-year period of being an aesthetic detective. "I started searching, looking, and then I found out that the fi rst thing that's missing is that we don't have a proper approach to evaluate skin," he recalls. He set a goal for himself: "There's something wrong with what we know; I have to improve it." This pursuit of a deeper understanding of skin would ultimately shift him from just another dermatologist to a leader in the fi eld. Reaching the Cellular Level The nucleus of Dr. Obagi's approach to skincare is the idea that prevention, rejuvenation and treatment should begin at the cellular level, not on the surface, and that different skin types react differently to treatment. Therefore, each patient requires an individual consultation and The Obagi brand has become one of the most recognizable names in dermatology and skin care. B e y o n d t h e S u r f a c e M E D 4 1 4 . i n d d 5 8 Beyond the Surface MED414.indd 58 3 / 1 3 / 1 4 9 : 2 4 A M 3/13/14 9:24 AM

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