Interviews

How Dr. Amelia Hausauer’s Background as a Russian Ballerina Helped Her Dermatology Career

Nate Fong Photo

If you think that a childhood full of practicing pliés and pirouettes wouldn’t have any effect on one’s future career as a doctor, you’re wrong. Just ask board-certified Campbell, California, dermatologist Dr. Amelia Hausauer, who trained for nearly two decades as a Russian ballet dancer.

“I am a complete perfectionist, and I attribute that entirely to my dance background,” says the 34-year-old who works at Aesthetx, a Silicon Valley plastic surgery and dermatology practice. “Everything is very regimented. You have many, many hours of training, so you become very organized.” Her perfectionism and familiarity with lengthy training sessions undoubtedly helped Dr. Hausauer throughout her journey into the world of medicine — whether she realized it during her childhood or not.

While talking with her, it became clear that Dr. Hausauer’s unique background not only gave her the discipline needed to become a doctor, but provides a different perspective on treating patients, too. (Hint: her experience with choreography influences how she individually treats different areas of the face to create “a true masterpiece.”) Keep reading to learn more about her, including her distinct approach to dermatology, her personal medical aesthetics routine, the nighttime cream she can’t go without, and more. 

Spotlyte: Did you always want to be a dermatologist while growing up?

Dr. Hausauer: No, [but] I knew from an early age I wanted to be a physician. It's actually one of my dad's favorite stories. When I was about three and my sister was barely a year old, we were in the car and he asked us what we wanted to be. I told him I wanted to be a baby heart doctor — and my sister told him she wanted to be a butterfly. So, I knew I wanted to be a doctor pretty early on. It just took me a little while to figure out what [specialty] was going to be a good fit.

Spotlyte: You trained as a classical Russian ballet dancer for many years. How has this training influenced your career as a dermatologist?

AH: When I got into medical school, I knew I wanted something that was visually-driven and pattern-oriented. Even when you're talking about medical dermatology, it is all about color and form and configuration. That's how you make diagnoses, right? There aren't very many tests that you do: it's all by looking at someone’s skin and using that visual information. Then, when you get into aesthetics, you layer a whole other level of artistic eye. That was how I got pulled into dermatology.

Spotlyte: Does this perspective affect how you treat patients?

AH: The way that I approach every patient is by looking at the full canvas. What are all of these different levels in the skin, and how can we get those to complement [each other]? It's not just the lips or under the eyes. It's looking at the entire face. My background in art and dance really helped me notice how all of those individual pieces, when put together, create a true masterpiece. It's having all of these components and then figuring out how to integrate them into something that's greater than the sum of each individual piece.

Spotlyte: As a longtime dancer, is fitness still a passion of yours? 

AH: I stopped dancing in my twenties because I got injured. But I'm a six-day-a-week exercise person. Fitness is something that is very, very important in my life. And I love talking to patients about the role of fitness in skin health and what it does for endorphins.

Spotlyte: Interesting. Do your patients come to you for any body sculpting treatments?

AH: A large part of our practice is both surgical and nonsurgical body sculpting. I do a lot of CoolSculpting®. I also talk to [patients] about diet and fitness and how you can maintain your results by putting in your own effort as well.

[Editor’s note: The CoolSculpting treatment is a non-invasive fat-freezing treatment that effectively reduces fat in certain self-proclaimed “problem spots” in the submental and submandibular areas, thigh, abdomen, flank, and upper arm, along with bra fat, back fat, and underneath the buttocks (you know, those bulges that just won’t go away, regardless of how much you sweat it out on the treadmill). While it isn’t a weight loss solution, fat-freezing can reduce pouches of fat. As with any procedure, there are risks and side effects, so talk to a licensed provider to see if it’s right for you.]

Spotlyte: What is your own skincare routine like? 

AH: My regimen [includes] an antioxidant serum in the morning. The SkinBetter Science® Alto™ Defense Serum ($145) contains one of the highest numbers of antioxidants. Plus, it’s paraben- and sulfate-free. I follow this up with Le Prunier® Plum Beauty Oil ($72) for its omegas and hydration. Then, physical sunscreen like Elta MD®. There's also a moisturizer that I like called the Drunk Elephant® Lala Retro® Whipped Moisturizer ($60) that I use when I'm super dry. It's got this whipped consistency. It's really pillowy, so it feels amazing. It's rich in a ton of different oils that we know are good for barrier protection.

Spotlyte: What’s your nighttime routine like?

AH: At night, I mix a soothing vitamin B serum with my face oil and a squalene- or ceramide-based moisturizer. I tend to be very dry, so have learned to layer well. I can’t go without prescription retinoids or Skinbetter Science AlphaRet® Overnight Cream ($120). AlphaRet combines the power of prescription strength vitamin A with glycolic acid to minimize irritation. The trick to retinoids is using a pea-sized amount only a few nights per week and increasing [the amount over time] as tolerated. I have never been able to do more than two to three evenings in the week before getting irritated.

[Editor's note: Retinol shouldn't be used by those who are pregnant, considering getting pregnant, or nursing. Please consult with your doctor before use.]

Spotlyte: What in-office treatments do you get?

AH: Several times a year I'll do a light laser resurfacing. I like Clear + Brilliant®. I get this one patch of melasma on my cheek, and it's been the only thing that's really helped control it.

Spotlyte: Do you get any injectables?

AH: I routinely do injectable wrinkle reducers. I do it usually every four months. I started doing injectable wrinkle reducers for my thirtieth birthday.

[Editor’s note: Injectable wrinkle reducers are used to temporarily smooth the look of moderate to severe wrinkles in certain areas of the face such as the forehead, frown lines, and crow’s feet. They should not be used more frequently than every three months. Like any medical treatment, they have potential risks and side effects. Be sure to talk to a licensed provider to see if they’re right for you. Have more questions? Chat with our team of trained aesthetics specialists now.]

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Nate Fong Photo

Spotlyte: Do you specialize in any treatments? 

AH: We have a unique structure to our practice: we're all board-certified in core aesthetic specialties. My two partners are plastic surgeons and I'm a board-certified dermatologist. My areas of expertise are a little bit diverse. I do a lot of injectables, both neuromodulators and fillers. I do a lot of laser resurfacing and other laser treatments. My big area of research expertise is platelet-rich plasma and microneedling. I ran one of the largest clinical trials using platelet-rich plasma for hair regrowth. So, I do quite a bit of that, too.

Spotlyte: What about your job excites you the most?

AH: There is so much diversity in dermatology. People usually come in and they have one specific question or one specific thing that bothers them. There are so many different modalities now that we can draw on. I also love building comprehensive plans for patients and having a continuity of relationships. I see [my patients] every couple months. So, I get to know about their lives. They get to know about my life, and then we build that relationship. We get to see our [life] changes over time together.

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CoolSculpting® is an Allergan®-owned non-invasive fat reduction treatment.

CoolSculpting® Treatment Important Information 

Uses

The CoolSculpting® procedure is FDA-cleared for the treatment of visible fat bulges in the submental (under the chin) and submandibular (under the jawline) areas, thigh, abdomen and flank (love handles), along with bra fat, back fat, underneath the buttocks (also known as banana roll), and upper arm. It is also FDA-cleared to affect the appearance of lax tissue with submental area treatments. The CoolSculpting procedure is not a treatment for weight loss.

Important Safety Information 

The CoolSculpting procedure is not for everyone. You should not have the CoolSculpting procedure if you suffer from cryoglobulinemia, cold agglutinin disease, or paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria.

Tell your licensed healthcare provider if you have any medical conditions including recent surgery, pre-existing hernia, and any known sensitivities or allergies.

During the procedure you may experience sensations of pulling, tugging, mild pinching, intense cold, tingling, stinging, aching, and cramping at the treatment site. These sensations subside as the area becomes numb. Following the procedure, typical side effects include temporary redness, swelling, blanching, bruising, firmness, tingling, stinging, tenderness, cramping, aching, itching, or skin sensitivity, and sensation of fullness in the back of the throat after submental or submandibular area treatment.

Rare side effects may also occur. CoolSculpting may cause a visible enlargement in the treated area which may develop two to five months after treatment and requires surgical intervention for correction.

Ask your licensed healthcare provider if CoolSculpting is right for you. To learn more about what to expect, visit the CoolSculpting website and comprehensive Important Safety Information.

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