Dr. Ava Shamban is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at the UCLA-Geffen School of Medicine and author of the book Heal Your Skin. In addition to maintaining a private practice in Beverly Hills, CA, Dr. Shamban is host of Dr. Ava Says (available on YouTube) and is a beauty expert for Allure Magazine, always emphasizing the importance of renewing the skin. In a recent interview with DermTube.com, Dr. Shamban shared her thoughts on the evolution of cosmetic dermatology. Ahead are excerpts from the interview.

With competition from non-core practitioners rising, how do you see cosmetic medicine taking shape in coming years and what advice do you have for your colleagues on how to stay ahead of the curve?

As more people become aware that cosmetic treatments exist and that they have relatively low risks and offer relatively great benefits, Dr. Shamban notes, “it is inevitable that more healthcare providers will be providing cosmetic services.” Thus, it is important for those in the core cosmetic specialties to set themselves apart. “The way to differentiate yourself from the medspa down the street is by your knowledge,” she says. “It's going to be by learning advanced techniques and understanding the facial anatomy of different patients and ethnicities, as well as how people age differently and how best to approach that face,” says Dr. Shamban. “People who have trained in other specialties or midlevel practitioners won't have access to that knowledge and years of experience. Thus, it behooves us to always pursue any continued medical education and learn on our own,” she explains. “All the best doctors I know are changing it up and learning something new.”

Can you discuss the patient experience and the importance of communication from the initial consult to the end of treatment?

“The first way of differentiating yourself from other providers is having your patients have a quality, ‘Four Seasons' experience rather than a motel experience. You want them to feel great and cared for from the second they come in the door,” says Dr. Shamban. This may sound easy, she continues, but it's not. “You have to think about every step of the way, from the greeting by the receptionist to the way your reception area is decorated, and from the information manuals to how patients are taken back to the examination room,” she notes. One exercise that helps to plant the seeds of a very special patient experience, Dr. Shamban explains, is to assess your branding efforts—from how you brand your office to how you brand yourself—and key in on how to set yourself apart.

When it comes to the consultation, Dr. Shamban likes to focus on something positive and work from there. “If you start with what's beautiful about the patient—what I call the ‘signature feature'—the goal is to highlight and showcase that beauty.” Dr. Shamban believes that, besides a great patient experience, you want to have a plan for patients. “You want them to know that your practice is a place they're coming to over and over again over the next several months, so it's best to have a plan.”

What's one of the most important lessons you've learned over the years about your specialty and your role as a clinician?

“The most important lesson I've learned in my role as a clinician is the profound impact that our work has on people's self esteem and how they feel about themselves,” says Dr. Shamban. “If patients feel good and their self esteem is strong enough, it will change their lives. They will have new confidence to go into a job interview, to take that job and do well at it, or be in a healthy relationship,” she observes. “I don't think that was something I foresaw when I chose dermatology but this has been the most impactful part of my career.”

Go to DermTube.com to see the full interview with Dr. Shamban.