Before my interview with Dr. Lisa Airan and her husband, Dr. Trevor Born, I did what any experienced journalist would do: I Googled them. I sought out any and all information in preparation for our chat, and what I found was thoroughly unexpected. After sifting through some news coverage about Dr. Born (he was featured in Vogue® magazine article in 2013 and is a plastic surgeon in both Toronto, Ontario and New York City), I moved onto Dr. Airan. I actually had to double check that I’d typed her name correctly into the search bar. Was this stunning woman — dressed in couture on every red carpet and smiling brightly in high-end photoshoots — a board-certified dermatologist or a New York fashion icon? I was confused.
Turns out, it was the one and only Dr. Airan, a celebrity dermatologist who has a penchant for all things fashion and regularly attends red carpet events. (For example, she stepped out at this year’s Met GalaTM wearing Gucci®). Dr. Airan’s alternative choice of profession probably won’t surprise you, but the couple’s stance on dermatology and plastic surgery just might. Keep reading to learn that and much more about this Upper East Side power couple.
Spotlyte: How did you two meet?
Dr. Lisa Airan: We met in New York through our work. I'm a dermatologist, and Trevor's a plastic surgeon. After Trevor read an article about me in Vogue magazine, he decided to meet me.
Spotlyte: How did each of you fall in love with your dermatology and plastic surgery crafts, respectively? Did each of you want to become a dermatologist and plastic surgeon when you were younger?
LA: I always knew I was going to be a doctor, because I come from a family of doctors — so pretty much from the time I was little. My dad is a general surgeon, my mom is a nurse, my granddad was a radiologist, my aunt is a pathologist, her husband's a cardiologist — basically, the whole family are doctors and everybody in the family is in medicine. I knew I was going to be a doctor, but wondered what type of doctor. To me, dermatology is one of the most creative fields in medicine, and I'm really artistic, so I thought that was a really good match for me.
Dr. Trevor Born: My father was one of the early plastic surgeons in Ontario, Canada, and was friendly with one of the most famous plastic surgeons, Dr. Bruce Connell. I trained with Dr. Connell in California, and he was really the first surgeon to develop and teach other surgeons how to do a facelift with the most natural results, as well as long-lasting aesthetic changes. Dr. Connell was really inspiring and taught me how to observe the beauty in each person, to understand the aesthetic changes that will make a more youthful appearance, without distortion and detection of any work that has been done.
Spotlyte: What's it like to be married to someone who works in a similar field as you do?
LA: It's great! I love [it] because we're not doing exactly the same thing. We're in complementary fields, and we can often run cases by each other, which is super helpful.
Spotlyte: What is your day-to-day like at the office?
LA: Well, it's super busy — it’s 1:30 p.m. now, we got to the office at 8:30 a.m. this morning, and we literally haven’t sat down at all. A patient who’s getting married in 10 days came in last-minute to have a cyst injection, and the only time she could come in today was 1 p.m. We’re always so busy!
TB: In the NYC office, I am in surgery in the morning through the early afternoon. I will then see consults and follow-ups, along with minor surgical procedures for removal of skin growths and injections of injectable wrinkle reducers and fillers. I will often see patients in conjunction with Dr. Airan to help with the patient’s plan and best outcomes. Usually, patients are from out of town and need to make long-term plans.
[Editor’s note: Injectable wrinkle reducers temporarily smooth the look of moderate to severe wrinkles in certain areas of the face, including the forehead, frown lines, and crow’s feet. Injectable filler is a temporary treatment that adds volume to areas of the face such as the lips, cheeks, and laugh lines. Like any medical treatment, both injectable wrinkle reducers and injectable fillers have potential risks and side effects. Talk to a licensed provider to see if they’re right for you. And learn more now by chatting with a trained aesthetic specialist.]
Spotlyte: Do you feel like you do more injectables during the week than laser treatments or other types of treatments?
LA: Well, I do everything every day, and you probably know that one treatment [may] not [be] enough. If you're in your early twenties and you need to get injectable wrinkle reducers in one area, that [may be] all you need. As patients move into their thirties and forties, they [may] need treatments [in other areas].
Spotlyte: What is the best part of your job?
LA: The best part of the job is actually helping people look great and caring for patients. The first patient I saw this morning is overweight, so I was talking to her about diet and her personal lifestyle and giving her various recommendations. The overall care of people is the most fun part.
TB: As physicians, we need to diagnose and manage what people are looking for to achieve their goals. The results are not immediate — there’s presurgical anxiety and nervousness, but the most gratifying is when patients came in on day four, day five, day six, or day seven and say, "Wow, that was really easy. I didn't know it was going to be so easy, and the results look great.” They're excited.
Spotlyte: And what would you say the most challenging part is?
LA: Staying on time. I really try to schedule things out so that I keep patients on time, and when I get so behind, I find that challenging. I want to respect people's time, and I don't want to be running late. I’m usually right on time, but today was a little stressful.
TB: One of the most challenging things is the misinformation that people get on the internet and come in with the prenotion of procedures, pain, recovery, and risk. They're questioning you about your experience and how a procedure is performed. There’s a lot of marketing of “quick, no downtime procedures,” which for many patients will offer little to no benefit.
Spotlyte: Dr. Airan, what is your favorite approach to treating clients?
LA: Every patient is evaluated and a customized treatment plan is developed using a combination of modalities to help patients look [like] they feel. I love to be in agreement with patients. and transform their faces from sad to happy.
Spotlyte: What are the changes you've seen in your practice over the years? Are you seeing more of a demand for a specific treatment and less of a demand for another?
LA: Well, new treatments come along as time goes on, and things that weren't available before, like platelet-rich plasma, are new modalities that you couldn't have even thought possible 10 years ago. And sometimes, they start in other fields. The platelet-rich plasma really started in orthopedics for injury to joints, and then dermatologists and plastic surgeons started using the platelet-rich plasma in the skin. There are different techniques that come along that can really help you even more in terms of giving patients great outcomes.
TB: We're faced with it from two sides. One is that you have tools in your kit that are amazing, like injectable wrinkle reducers, fillers, fat grafting, and liposuction. On the other hand, there are constant changes and demands for the new latest and greatest devices that we need to keep up with — whether [or not] they are of any benefit. The demand is largely driven by social media, rather than by actual true technology and results. Many times a day we have people asking, "Are you doing this and this? I saw it there, I saw it here." And it's a repackaging of things that we're already doing, versus maybe a slightly different technology that has no benefit. So, we need to constantly evaluate procedures to make sure that our patients will have great benefits and results.
Spotlyte: Dr. Airan, what are your favorite skincare products to use on yourself?
LA: In the morning, I cleanse with Clarisonic® MiaTM Smart Connected Beauty Device and the NeoCutis® NEO CLEANSE® Gentle Skin Cleanser. The Clarisonic brush is important for deep cleaning skin and removing dead skin cells, dirt, and oil — it cleanses the skin six times more effectively than just manually washing with a washcloth. The Clarisonic gives my skin radiance and allows my skincare products to absorb more evenly and effectively.
After I cleanse, I first apply SkinMedica® TNS Recovery Complex®, which is a serum that contains the highest concentration of high-quality growth factors in the marketplace. Growth factors are made naturally by skin cells to help repair damaged skin and, as we age, we produce fewer growth factors [which results in fine lines and wrinkles]. I apply [the TNS Recovery Complex] to my face and neck twice per day consistently to [enhance] smoothness, softness, and overall skin texture! [The TNS Recovery Complex] is super effective for softening [the appearance of] fine lines and wrinkles.
I then apply an antioxidant to my face and neck. Antioxidants are important in any skincare regime because they help to limit premature aging by preventing and reversing free radical damage. A daily antioxidant protects my skin, reducing the appearance of inflammation and aging. I like SkinCeuticals® C E Ferulic® and SkinMedica Lumivive® System for antioxidants, and I recently started using them to protect my skin from blue light damage from cellphones and computers. Finally, I apply SkinMedica Total Defense + Repair SPF 34 [Sunscreen] to my face and neck.
At night, I cleanse with Biologique Recherche® Lait UTM, then Skinmedica TNS Recovery Complex again, then Skinmedica Lumivive or the SkinCeuticals Resveratrol B E® antioxidant, and finish with a retinol or retinoid, forms of topical vitamin A that stimulate skin cell turnover. This helps prevent skin damage, reverse signs of aging, and reduce acne.
[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: Dr. Born, what’s your skincare routine?
TB: I use a cleanser with a Clarisonic brush and then shave with soap to really clean the top layer of skin. Then I use a daily retinol, followed by SkinMedica TNS Recovery Complex and a moisturizer. At night, I use a thin layer of SkinMedica Dermal Repair Cream.
Spotlyte: Are there any products you recommend to all your patients? If so, what are they and why?
LA: All of the products I use on myself are the ones I consistently recommend to patients. I always recommend a product with growth factors, antioxidants, and retinol, and sunscreen should always be applied every day to prevent skin damage.
Spotlyte: What medical aesthetics treatments have you tried, Dr. Airan?
LA: I’ve done injectable wrinkle reducers. It's the number one thing that I would recommend. I also recommend different types of fillers, lasers, and peels when needed.
Spotlyte: Do you mind telling me a few more in-office treatments that you've done?
LA: I do the Dermalinfusion®. We have been doing Dermalinfusion for years for skin hydration and uneven pigmentation. I also do many lasers, such as Nd:YAG laser for pigmentation, PDL, Genesis®, and IPL.
Spotlyte: What are some common misconceptions about injectables?
TB: That you can change underlying shape. If somebody has long, thin lips, you can’t really make them have a differently-shaped lip. You have to deal with the underlying structure that you're trying to treat. So, you're not going to turn somebody with long, thin lips into Angelina Jolie. Patients think you can do anything with fillers, and some don't understand that you have to deal with their underlying structure.
TB: Allow [time] for possible bruising. [Don't get them] a week before a wedding.
LA: You have to plan it! Make sure it's not right before important occasions. Also, it’s very important to find somebody who is really good at aesthetics and injecting, like a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon. You want somebody who has a lot of experience, especially for your first time getting injectables.
Spotlyte: If you weren't doctors, what do you think you would be doing instead?
TB: I’d be retired (laughs). Or I’d be a professional kitesurfer, maybe.
LA: I’d love to be a fashion editor!
Dr. Lisa Airan is a paid Allergan® consultant.
Dermalinfusion® is an Allergan®-owned treatment.
DermalInfusion Important Safety Information
The Dermalinfusion® device is a microdermabrasion device that gently removes the top layer of skin and delivers topical cosmetic serums onto the skin.
Important Safety Information
The Dermalinfusion® treatment is not for everyone. You should not have a Dermalinfusion® treatment if you are pregnant, lactating or have compromised skin quality. Tell your provider if you have any medical conditions, including allergies, and if you are using topical medications on the area to be treated.
Typical side effects include a scratchy, stinging sensation during the treatment and temporary tightness, redness or slight swelling after the treatment. Rare serious side effects may also occur and include severe skin irritation and allergic reactions.
Pro‐Infusion Serums Disclaimer
The Pro‐Infusion Serums are intended to meet the FDA’s definition of a cosmetic product, an article applied to the human body to cleanse, beautify, promote attractiveness, and alter appearances. These products are not intended to be drugs that diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition. These products have not been approved by the FDA and the statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
Please talk to your provider for additional information.
SkinMedica® is an Allergan®-owned skincare line.
Product prices may vary from the time this article was written.
Allergan® may receive commissions for purchases made through links in this article.