Interviews

Why Hurricane Katrina Inspired Dermatologist Dr. Deirdre Hooper to Start Her Own Practice

Photo by Pilot and Powell

In 2005, people were fleeing New Orleans in a mass exodus, due to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. The city’s residents were faced with a challenging decision: stay amidst the uncertainty, or uproot and start a new life elsewhere. Deirdre Hooper, MD, board-certified dermatologist in New Orleans, LA, was one of those residents.

“It was so crazy in New Orleans after Katrina,” explains Dr. Hooper. “There was so much upheaval, people moving away, nobody knew what was going to happen next, and everybody was afraid the city would never make it back.” She had been working at a notable dermatologist’s office before the storm hit, and Katrina caused the practice to shut down. She needed a new place to work. But instead of moving on from the city she called home, Dr. Hooper and her husband chose to stay and find a space to open her own practice. Nine months after Hurricane Katrina, her doors at Audubon Dermatologysm were officially open.

Continuing her career in her home state of Louisiana was incredibly important to Dr. Hooper: she had always loved the idea of being in New Orleans (“the biggest city in the world”) and, of course, the idea of being a physician. “I always wanted to be a doctor — I dressed up as a doctor for Halloween at three years old,” Dr. Hooper says with a laugh. Her mother was a pediatrician, her grandfather was an internist, and her uncle and cousin were both doctors. “When I was about eight, [my uncle] taught me how to carefully peel an apple,” explains Dr. Hooper. “His point was to show me how surgeons do things, and how they [skillfully] use their hands.”

Today, Dr. Hooper uses her hands to check her patients for skin cancer, administer cosmetic injectables, and so much more. She’s both a caring doctor and dedicated mother of three, so the Louisiana State University™ School of Medicine graduate has mastered the art of juggling a busy schedule. Keep reading to learn more about her, including her background as a “small town” Louisiana girl, why partnerships with her patients are so important, and her number-one acne tip.

Photo Courtesy of Dr. Hooper

Spotlyte: Tell us about growing up in Louisiana and how you were first exposed to the world of medicine.

Dr. Deirdre Hooper: I'm a small town girl from West Monroe, Louisiana — [a town] no one had ever heard of until Duck Dynasty®. There are tons of doctors in my family, and that really inspired me to become a surgeon. I was just a small town girl and thought I was going to the biggest city in the world — New Orleans — for medical school. I went to medical school planning to be a surgeon the whole time.

Spotlyte: What made you decide to go into dermatology?

DH: At the end of medical school, I made friends with a dermatologist. She encouraged me to do a month of dermatology, because there was a lot of surgery that you could do. And so I did [it] and loved it. I stayed in Louisiana, trained in New Orleans, and finished my residency in 2002. At this point, I had never been anywhere outside of Louisiana. But I applied for and got this mentorship through the Women's Dermatologic Society® with Dr. Pearl Grimes, a dermatologist in Los Angeles. I spent a month with her right after I finished residency, and that opened my eyes to the bigger world of cosmetic [dermatology].

Spotlyte: Why did you decide to open your own practice?

DH: After I came back to New Orleans, I met this prominent dermatologist and I [began] working for her. During this time, I got married, had a baby, had my second baby, and everything was rolling along great. But then Hurricane Katrina hit. When Katrina hit New Orleans, I had an infant, and a two year old. It turned everything upside down. The office [I worked in] flooded and closed. It became this crossroads. But my husband does real estate in New Orleans, so he wasn't going to move. So, I decided to open a practice. [My partner and I] opened Aubudon Dermatology together in 2006. And now we've been working together ever since.

Spotlyte: As a dermatologist with her own practice and a family to care for, what’s a typical day for you? 

DH: I wake up around 5:30 a.m., because that's the only time that it's quiet in my house. I have my coffee, drink water, and I run on my treadmill or use my Peloton®. Then, I get my kids ready and off to school. I work three or four days a week, and I do a mix of cosmetic, medical, and surgical lasers. It's probably 50/50 cosmetic and medical.

In the evenings, it's all about the kids. My son just turned 16, my daughter's 14, and my other daughter is eight. One of my kids play soccer, one rides horses competitively, and one plays football and lacrosse. So, it's a lot. I try to have a healthy dinner, maybe a glass of wine, and go to bed by 10 p.m.

Spotlyte: When you wake up each day, what makes you excited to go to work?

DH: I am very passionate about partnering with people for the health and beauty of their skin. When I have a patient who really wants to partner with me, and we can see and track the visual change in their skin over time, I love it.

My favorite thing to treat medically is acne. I love treating acne because I had acne [growing up] and I took isotretinoin. I know how emotionally scarring [acne] is. So, I love the journey of someone who is open and willing to partner with me for their skin [long-term] and not just for a quick fix.

[Editor's note: Retinol shouldn't be used by women who are pregnant, considering getting pregnant, or nursing. As always, talk to your doctor before starting or stopping any new medication.]

Spotlyte: Is there a number-one acne tip that you give all your patients who suffer from breakouts?

DH: My number-one tip for acne is to not pick at your skin. It's so tempting, but it's so bad for you. It can lead to infection, and scarring, and it makes everything harder to treat. I say all the time, "If you have a pimple, just put a Band-Aid® on it." My second tip is [to remember] that acne is a disease [that needs] medical treatment. People waste so much time buying over-the-counter products or trying home remedies before they see a dermatologist.

Spotlyte: What’s your personal skincare routine like?

DH: My morning routine always includes a topical antioxidant. I love the SkinCeuticals® Phloretin CF® Gel. [I use] a peptide or growth factor, eye cream, too, and I use a firming neck product. My eye cream is Neocutis® Lumiere®. That's my favorite. I've been using it for about 15 years. I use Revision® Nectifirm® [for my neck]. I'm a morning person, so I like to do most of my work in the morning, and leave as little as possible for the night. I have melasma. So most of the time, my routine [includes] some kind of hydroquinone treatment to treat my melasma. Then, of course, sunscreen. I have plenty of sun damage myself. But when you practice dermatology and you're taking skin cancers off, you really start to see the impact of that lifestyle. So, I put sunscreen on my arms and legs, and I use a tinted one on my face, and a creamy, moisturizing one on my neck. I have a little sunscreen wardrobe.

[Editor’s note: Hydroquinone has not been FDA-approved. Talk to your doctor before starting any treatment with it.]

Spotlyte: Do you have a favorite sunscreen? The sun can be super strong in the South!

DH: I like the Supergoop!® Daily Correct™ CC Cream. That's my favorite face sunblock. For my arms, hands, and chest I use the Supergoop Forever Young® Hand Cream with SPF 40 because I have dry skin. I also like the Revision Multi-Protection Broad-Spectrum SPF 50, though. It's a bestseller in my office, because I treat a lot of skin of color, and that one is invisible on all skin types. 

Spotlyte: What’s your nighttime routine?

DH: At night, I always use prescription tretinoin. As I've gotten older, I have extended the areas that I apply it. I put it on my face, my neck, my chest, and my arms. Everywhere I'm seeing photo-aging, I put it. Then, I usually use some kind of peptide moisturizer on my face at night. I have a pretty simple routine at night because I'm tired.

Photo Courtesy of Dr. Hooper

Spotlyte: Do you get any in-office treatments yourself?

DH: Of course! I get an in-office treatment probably once a week. I get injectable wrinkle reducer three times a year in my crow’s feet, glabella, and forehead. I get filler in my cheeks and in my lips, too. I'll also get some kind of either light peel or microdermabrasion once a month.I have melasma [and so] I don't do a lot of energy-based treatments to my face because I find that many of them trigger it. But we have a radio frequency skin tightening device [in the office], and every year I’ll do it around my eyes and on my jawline. I also love my Fraxel® machine. I usually do that two or three times a year, as well.

[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; they should not be used more frequently than every three months. 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.]

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I've also recently started [injecting] platelet-rich plasma into my scalp because I'm hitting my forties, and I feel like my hair is a little thinner on the top. I have a lot of hair, and I’ve always liked my hair. One of my favorite things to do is get blowouts! So, I often get PRP injections into my scalp. I'm getting it done today, in fact. 

Spotlyte: What's one treatment or procedure that you wish more of your patients knew about?

DH: Clear + Brilliant®. It’s great at [improving] skin quality. Patients don't spend enough time thinking about the overall quality of their skin beyond just using topicals. I wish more people knew that they should start that [treatment] younger than just when they start seeing fine lines. Also, PRP for hair quality has been great in my practice, especially for men. 

Spotlyte: What do you do for fun when you’re not working? 

DH: I love to exercise, which helps me avoid becoming hunched. I love to read, and I read voraciously — I love to file [computer articles] away and read [them]. It helps me make connections in my world. For example, I've been reading a lot recently about architecture. I realized that if you don't look at the whole picture and stand back, you don't get as good of a result. This certainly connects [to my work]. 

Dr. Deirdre Hooper is a paid Allergan® consultant.

Product prices may vary from the time this article was written.

Allergan® may receive commissions for purchases made through links in this article.

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