In dermatology, we are fortunate to have many insightful practitioners and great teachers and mentors. Some are bright stars in our special universe – others unsung heroes. All of these colleagues have much to share, from wisdom to humor to insights into dermatology and life. This column allows us to gain insight from these practitioners and learn more about them.
Dr. Nicole Rogers is a board certified dermatologist and hair transplant surgeon. She graduated with honors from Harvard University and moved to New Orleans for medical school and residency at Tulane. She is assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane University School of Medicine and in private practice in Metairie, LA.
Dr. Rogers is the president of the Louisiana Dermatologic Society and is a contributing editor for the Journal of Dermatologic Surgery. Dr. Rogers has written and spoken extensively about surgical and medical treatments for hair loss, including contemporary techniques in hair transplantation, minoxidil, finasteride and the use of low-level light therapy for hair growth. Visit her website at www.oldmetairiedermatology.com.
Q. What part of your work gives you the most pleasure?
A. There is no doubt that my passion is treating hair loss, both medically and through hair transplantation. With hair surgery, we can make an incredible and permanent difference in how patients feel about themselves. Even the medical treatment of hair can give thrilling results and boost self-esteem for patients who consistently use topical minoxidil, oral finasteride and/or spironolactone.
The first time I watched a hair surgery was with Dr. Walter Unger in Toronto in 1998. I thought it was magic. I was a senior in college, and had just gone along to support a friend who was having the surgery done. As your readership knows, Dr. Unger is an iconic hair transplant surgeon who ‘wrote the textbook’ (now in its 5th edition). His daughter Dr. Robin Unger took over his New York practice and is now my friend and colleague in the hair restoration field.
We work hard to increase the understanding about contemporary hair transplant surgery and remove any stigma surrounding the days of “plugs”. Many say, “I’ve never seen a good hair transplant,” but the reality is that modern techniques are so good that you cannot tell anyway.
Q. Who was your hero/mentor and why?
A. I have 2 mentors. Dermatologist and hair surgeon Dr. Marc Avram provided me with an amazing year of training during his fellowship in hair restoration and lasers. He taught me that every patient is a VIP and that you should never make assumptions about what people want or what bothers them. He is also one of the nicest and most ethical men in our field. I am so proud to have worked with him and continue to collaborate on research and academic publications related to hair transplantation.
Dr. Patti Farris is my partner at Old Metairie Dermatology and has generously fostered my desire to treat hair loss, while also keeping a balanced skill set in general and cosmetic dermatology. She has taught me so much about the business of dermatology, media relations, dispensing and how to negotiate with outside vendors in order to get what you need. I am indebted to her for her time and mentorship as well.
Q. Which patient had the most effect on your work and why?
A. Several patients. I learned the hard way that you must always check with patients during a procedure to be sure they are happy with the plan and process. I am also learning to manage patient expectations. If you can undersell and over-deliver they will always be happy. Lastly, (and I am still learning) that sometimes the best course of action is not to operate at all. Difficult patients can be a thorn in your side for years to come.
Q. What is the best piece of advice you have received and from whom?
A. My hair transplant colleague Dr. Sam Lam taught me to always take photos. In a field like hair loss, this is important because we never know when our patients will come back to see us again. I also have learned that taking photos motivates hair loss patients to use medical therapy as prescribed.They look forward to coming back in 6 months for their first set of follow-up photos. Then, when I e-mail them the results they cannot believe their results. It is really a thrill for both patient and physician.
Q. Which medical figure in history would you want to have a drink with and why?
A. Hippocrates was one of the earliest scholars to realize that eunuchs in the Persian army never experienced hair loss. I learned this while preparing a lecture for the History of Dermatology meeting in San Francisco in 2006. It would be so interesting to talk with him about some of the other poultices then used to treat hair loss, such as opium, horseradish, beet root, various spices and pigeon droppings applied to the scalp — and how those ancient men actually went along with it.