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New York City dermatologist Michelle Henry, MD is everywhere these days. Turn on morning TV. There’s Dr. Henry talking about sunscreen or fillers with rapt hosts. Log on to Instagram for her take on rising trends or a glimpse of her swanky new office. Attend a medical meeting virtually or IRL, and there’s Dr. Henry on the podium educating her peers.

On the heels of a successful 2021, Dr. Henry spoke to Practical Dermatology® magazine about her year and what’s to come in 2022.

What was it like opening a practice during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Michelle Henry, MD: It was pretty interesting. I wouldn’t have planned it like this, but it worked out well. We opened in February 2021 at a point when patients wanted to come back.

Did they?

Dr. Henry: Yes, in droves. The very first day that we opened, it became clear that the cosmetic space was going to explode with all of the pent-up demand. A lot of patients were spending more time at home, which means they could tolerate downtime. They also had more disposable income, so it was a great time to launch a practice that had a strong aesthetics division.

Was staffing a challenge?

Dr. Henry: I started with just my mom, a former ICU nurse, and my sister, a human resources executive. It was a family affair for the first few months. We lost nurses to COVID-19 centers for screening jobs and hired a virtual receptionist, which was really great when we needed additional help.

Any tips for others thinking of going out on their own in 2022?

Dr. Henry: Really assess the environment and think about your current patient volume. If you are moving from established practice, consider the level of attrition you may sustain. If you are moving to a new area, consider the density of other practices. I did a lot of social media and had an idea of the level of interest in my services. You are the “secret sauce.” Think about what you bring to the table that is unique. There are enough patients for everyone. There isn’t a shortage of patients. If anything, there is a shortage of physicians. Start slowly and keep your overhead low. Don’t bring on a ton of devices right away, and bring on staff slowly. You can always grow and expand, and you will likely need to grow more quickly than predicted. Write down the steps so it is very ordered and you can sink your teeth into the process.

What do today’s cosmetic patients want?

Dr. Henry: Fillers, fillers, and more fillers. I’ve always done a lot of tear trough filler, but I’m doing more now. I am also doing a lot of neck liposuction. These increases are probably because of the Zoom effect. Jawlines are the new lips. Everyone wants a beautiful jawline today. Hair transplants are also popular, and we see a lot more women coming in for them. We are doing more liposuction and body contouring, too. Patients are choosing more aggressive procedures because they have more downtime.

Why do you love traditional and social media?

Dr. Henry: The position of dermatologist-expert in the media has grown. Non-physician influencers provide augmented word of mouth, and the ones who do it well give their opinion and defer to dermatologists for medical advice. There’s definitely an uptick in not only brands but traditional media wanting to speak to physician experts. We are not just foot soldiers behind the scenes. We want to come out of the ivory tower and teach and feed our patients knowledge where they consume it.

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