Welcome back to Dedicated Derms, our three-part female-led series featuring our partner dermatologists first introduced at Convention in Nashville. We launched with a spotlight on San Antonio’s Dr. Vivian Bucay and introduced you last month to Dr. Jenna Lester, who is working hard at spearheading her “Skin of Color” program at UCSF. We conclude with the talented Dr. Tomi Lee Wall, who has worked closely with R+F’s own Dr. Katie Rodan for well over a decade. Learn how this self-proclaimed skincare minimalist has adopted the Multi-Med Therapy in her own life and discover her fascinating philosophy on the importance of skincare maintenance.
Rodan + Fields: Tell us a bit about your background, Dr. Wall.
Dr. Tomi Lee Wall: I was born in Tokyo, Japan. When I was seven years old, my family moved to Southern California. After finishing my dermatology residency at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, I worked for and became the Dermatology Director for Northwestern Medical Physician’s Group (now called Northwestern Memorial Group). My interest in lasers and cosmetic dermatology led me to pursue a laser fellowship at Harvard, where I participated in research, patient care and teaching. After completing my laser fellowship, I was asked to stay on as professor at Massachusetts General Hospital and continue my laser research. However, I made the decision to move to Northern California to be closer to my family as I started my own family.
When I moved to San Francisco, I initially looked for academic dermatology positions. However, I was convinced that private practice was the right move for me when I met Dr. Katie Rodan. She called me up and asked me to come interview with her. So, there I was, 8 months pregnant, waddling into her office and explaining to her that since I was starting my family much later in life than most, I definitely wanted a work schedule that was flexible enough to be available for my children. She said, “Come on board, we will support you and your family.” She has been extremely supportive of my desire to find the right work life balance. Working with Dr. Rodan for the past 13 years, I have had the good fortune of being able to be there 100% for my children, as well as working in a productive and fulfilling job.
R+F: What kind of patients do you see in your capacity?
Dr. Wall: My patients encompass a wide and diverse range of the population here in Northern California. On a typical day, I see patients who are stay-at-home moms, teenagers, internationally renowned authors, famous musicians, prominent politicians, CEO’s of tech companies, television newscasters, prominent lawyers, professors at Ivy League colleges and Olympic athletes. I have had the privilege of caring for all of these amazing individuals. It reinforces to me that we all desire the best health for our skin, regardless of what we do or who we are.
R+F: What inspired you to pursue dermatology?
Dr. Wall: It has the whole package! What other medical specialty would allow you the opportunity to care for everyone from infants to the elderly? I am able to treat all of their skin concerns, be it medical, cosmetic, or surgical. Especially in private practice, I have the privilege of creating long term relationships with my patients by being available and showing that I sincerely care. I suspect that is what it must be like for the Consultants and their customers.
R+F: What’s the importance of using a Regimen versus one product?
Dr. Wall: I’m a minimalist in general. However, in medical dermatology, we use several different topical medications together to obtain a synergistic effect. By the same token, the right type of skincare products applied in the right order can work synergistically. Specific products in the right sequence can “feed off” of each other and make each other better than just using one product. That is the importance of a multi-step Regimen.
R+F: Do you face any unique skincare challenges yourself?
Dr. Wall: Absolutely! I am not immune to the effects of the sun and environment just because I am a dermatologist. Like many Asian people, I will always struggle with discoloration, like brown spots. Besides my trusty sunscreen, there are great solutions like the REVERSE Regimen that really does help to keep things in check. It is both a treatment and maintenance, which I think is important to know. You always have to take care of yourself. Similar to the way exercise and healthy eating are important to maintain once you meet your fitness goals, you must maintain a healthy skin regimen to keep your skin looking its best.
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