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The Future of Beauty: “Non-Invasive Procedures Are Now Providing Better Results” With Dr. Christopher Zoumalan

I’d like to be a good example for others in this world. There are so many people that are trying to find shortcuts for instant success or happiness. But in my opinion, hard work, motivation, and passion cannot be shortcutted. I want others to hear my story and become motivated to chase their passions, their dreams. Becoming one of a handful of surgeons that specializes in Oculoplastic Surgery takes nearly 15 years of training, from college, to medical school, to internship, residency, and then fellowship. Then once you’re done, you have to start your practice! It sounds daunting, but the joys from this journey are infinite. I confidently can say that my opportunities as an inventor and entrepreneur would not have been possible, nor would have been the success of Skinuva, if it wasn’t for my career as a doctor. From a happiness standpoint, happiness cannot be bought or achieved. It’s a state that we need to constantly remind ourselves that is defined by ourselves.

As a part of our series about how technology will be changing the beauty industry over the next five years I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Christopher Zoumalan, MD FACS.

Christopher Zoumalan MD is a Stanford-trained Oculoplastic Surgeon that sees patients in his private practice in the heart of Beverly Hills. He specializes in cosmetic and reconstructive eyelid surgery. He is one of a handful of surgeons that have received subspecialty training within the Oculoplastic field, having trained at various institutions including Stanford University, NYU and Columbia University. He is a prolific researcher, having published over 75 research articles and book chapters within plastic surgery, scar research, novel topical formulation, and in the neurosciences. Dr. Zoumalan is also an inventor and entrepreneur. He has developed several medical instruments, some of which are now undergoing clinical trials, and has also clinically developed and tested Skinuva Scar cream, a growth factor-based scar cream, which is regarded as one of the most advanced scar creams available to patients. Dr. Zoumalan continues to develop other products within the Skinuva product line, and will be launching their next product out soon, called Skinuva Brite, a novel formulation to improve the appearance of hyperpigmentation in the first quarter of 2020. Dr. Zoumalan also continues to teach and volunteer as an Adjunct Clinical Professor at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I love the path that I have chosen and I look forward every day to waking up, doing what I do. I get to practice as both a plastic surgeon and helping my patients and also as an entrepreneur running my Skinuva line of products. Early on in my medical training, I chose to pursue Ophthalmology during medical school, but was torn between that field and Plastic Surgery. I ultimately decided on Ophthalmology but during my residency training at Stanford, I became exposed to Plastic Surgery again, and realized my passion was not just Ophthalmology, but also Plastic Surgery. My passion for plastic surgery took me to train as an Oculoplastic Surgeon at NYU and Columbia University. Upon finishing my fellowship at NYU, I really wanted to return back to Los Angeles. The job market was terrible, as the US was still in the midst of the recession at that time. Having no solid job offers, I knew that in order to thrive, I needed to start my own practice. Everyone I spoke with tried to turn me away from this concept of starting my own practice, i.e. that “it is impossible”, that “I wouldn’t make it,” that “it’s too risky and too competitive.” Hearing these comments made me even more determined. I realized that I was well-trained, driven, and loved my job, so ultimately, with hard work and my determination, patients would choose to come see me for their care. It wasn’t an easy process, and it took years of hard work, but worth every minute of it. Thankfully, with patience, doing good work on my patients, one patient at a time, I’m now a fully established Oculoplastic Surgeon and living my dream. A few years back, I also began to explore more about developing my own scar cream, which now has lead to be become the CEO and Founder of MD Medical Designs, a company that develops my Skinuva Scar and Skinuva Brite creams, both amazing products that I have created for my physician colleagues and patients. And that’s been an incredible journey as well and I can focus a bit more about the Skinuva story with you during the rest of our interview.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I remember I was a few years into having my own private practice in Beverly Hills, and I was about to make a scar cream re-order from my scar cream sales representative. Scar creams are important post-surgery care products that I provide to my patients in order to best allow my patients’ incisions to heal. But as I was making the order, I kept thinking to myself, is this the best that I can be buying and providing to my patients? From a cost standpoint and also from a technology standpoint, I felt that there was potential to develop a better scar cream on the market. Previously during my Stanford training years, I was taught to see the big picture, think outside the box, and to always ask how I can make this procedure that I’m performing better…better in terms of outcomes sake and better in terms of the patient’s recovery experience. There are various treatments on the market that can help allow a scar to heal well, and most involve the initial use of a scar cream. But I was wondering why there was a lack of advancements, i.e. why weren’t there any other pertinent formulations on the market besides silicone cream? That question got me thinking and thinking outside the box. I began to research other ingredients such as growth factors and others such as Centella Asiatica, Vitamin C, even Aloe Vera, that can be incorporated in a scar cream in addition to silicone cream. So, this inspiration of potential got me motivated to develop my own scar cream. Through several years of formulation trials, and teaming up with the right team of chemists and scientists, then creating and running clinical trials to test the product out, I realized that I had come up with something that worked and worked better than what I was dispensing to my patients prior to its creation. As a result, I decided to launch Skinuva Scar cream to my peers and patients. I launched Skinuva in March of 2018, and since then, the company has grown tremendously. We are now being carried in over 100 doctor’s offices, and have also launched on Amazon for consumers to purchase directly. It’s a great story, and I’m very thrilled to see its growth. We have a lean company but our team is hard-working, dedicated, and passionate. I now can confidently provide my own patients a scar cream that I’ve created and tell them that I have designed this them because I want their scars to heal as well as they possibly can after surgery.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

I’d say that the tipping point for Skinuva’s success was about a year ago, when I got a call from my former medical school roommate, who is now a radiologist in the local LA area, telling me that he randomly saw a bottle of Skinuva at his friend’s house. He called me to let me know he was out a friend’s house for a holiday party, and he saw a Skinuva Scar cream bottle in their living room. He asked his friend how they heard about the product, and his friend started to rave about the product and that her dermatologist swears by Skinuva and has all her patients use it after they have any procedure with her. This was a moment that really drove home the fact that Skinuva is here for good and is a quality product line trusted by doctors for their patients.

The interesting thing is that my friend has known about Skinuva Scar cream for a few years now and how I was working on developing it, then clinically testing it, and then to finally moving forward with product manufacturing and launching it to the market. I actually gave his wife one to use after her surgery to remove her pre-cancerous lesion a couple years ago and they were very impressed with the results of the cream on her scar.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Mentorships are key. I would say there are two of them in my life. One is my father. He is a true definition of one that works hard and is motivated. He came to this country with literally nothing but a PhD degree, a new wife (my mother), but a lot of motivation and passion. To this day, he continues to provide that same motivation and passion hard work in his career and as a father, husband, and now grandfather. The other mentor is not just one person, but a group of advisors, or friends, that I have always run my ideas by. I have several friends, now also my wife, that unconditionally want me to succeed. They are positive, honest, and have a lot of advice to give. If I need to run a branding question by someone, I know who to call. If I have a funding question to ask, I know who else to call. It’s important to develop a network of people that you can reach out to with one quick phone call to get their thoughts. If I have a question to run by regarding one of my patients, I know that one doctor colleague I can always rely on. I had to learn how to run a medical practice by myself; I had to learn how to develop Skinuva and launch the company on my own. It’s through such mentorships that I was able to successfully do so.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. The beauty industry today has access to technology that was inconceivable only a short time ago. Can you tell us about the “cutting edge” (pardon the pun) technologies that you are working with or introducing? How do you think that will help people?

I love seeing how plastic surgery continues to focus on advanced techniques and trending toward minimally invasive procedures and/or improving the outcomes and recovery from plastic surgery. There is also a trend where non-invasive procedures are providing better and better results for patients’ cosmetic needs. And what’s encouraging is that a lot of these advancements are backed by clinical trials and showing safe and effective outcomes.

We’re also seeing a lot more skin care products that are being released on the market for consumers. However, I’m not seeing this same level of clinical data and research to support the safety and efficacy of skin care products on the market. And that’s where our Skinuva pipeline of products excels. Our scar cream (Skinuva Scar) and our latest product on hyperpigmentation (Skinuva Brite) both use medical literature and clinical data to show that they are safe and effective. Each of our ingredients have been clinically shown to work through medical literature and our extensive clinical trials, and this is what makes our products so unique. Our products are developed and clinically tested by physicians using the highest clinical standards.

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

One of the things that I worry about is the lack of, at least in my opinion, proper research and development of the products that we actually place on our skin. Take for instance, sunscreen. We now know that some of the chemicals found in many sunscreens on the market have been shown to be absorbed through our skin and actually present in our blood in trace levels! Now take that how you want to, but I certainly would not want anything that I apply onto my skin to be absorbed into my blood. When I developed Skinuva Scar, I wanted to make sure that every ingredient that I used was safe to be applied directly on the skin, and undergone extensive testing to make sure it would be OK for long term use. That same thinking went into the development of Skinuva Brite. There has been a recent consumer push to create safe and effective non-hydroquinone products to improve hyperpigmentation. Hydroquinone is an effective product when it comes to hyperpigmentation but its use is controversial due its side effects. It has been associated with cellular toxicity in animal studies, and has side effects that can create issues for patients such as dermatitis and redness. That is why it has been banned as a consumer product in the European Union. The whole reason I developed Skinuva Scar and now Brite to my doctors and community is because I wanted to provide products that have been extensively tested, clinically tested to the highest level, and that are safe and effective for long term use.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the “beauty-tech” industry?

The consumer push for safer and effective products. Consumers want safer products and ones that are “clean.” That’s why we’re seeing a push for “cleaner” products, ones that are not animal tested and use organic ingredients, for instance. My push was to make a product that I would feel comfortable using daily for the rest of my life. We use the cleanest ingredients, and we also manufacture our products here in the US.

Clinical data driven product development. Although I’m a doctor at heart, I’m also a scientist and a researcher. The way I developed Skinuva Scar was through clinical data and research. I used my knowledge as a scientist, my experience with skin care as a physician, and my drive to deliver a product to physicians and their patients that’s backed by science.

Beauty-tech’s future is so exciting, and I’m grateful to play some role in it by bringing more awareness to growth factor technology when it comes to skin care. There is so much more that we are wanting to develop using our knowledge about growth factors, skin care, and skin conditions. We can’t wait to tell you what we have in store for future products within our Skinuva pipeline.

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?

I caution those that soley rely on social media for their medical information. Whether you’re undergoing a medical procedure, purchasing a device, or purchasing even skin care, do your research outside the realms of social media. And even if there’s an instance the procedure or device is promoted by a physician, make sure you do your research to validate that procedure or device. There is so much out there now that is not validated, and that can really create a false sense of expectations to many consumers.

So many skin care products make claims that they do not support. It would be great if we had a panel that evaluates the products manufactured, and asks for clinical data to support the claims that skin care companies wish to make. Everyone can say their product can help, for instance, improve hyperpigmentation, but we need data to back up these statements. Otherwise, consumers falsely build their expectations up for a product that may not work the way it was promoted.

The beauty industry is exploding and growing on a year to year basis. If you ask a woman that uses skin care products and makeup how many skin care products they have and how many products they apply on to their face/lips/eyes daily, it can add up to a lot more than you can imagine. There was a recent study that came out of UC Berkeley which showed that the average teenage girl uses 14 personal products per day, many of which include chemicals that are under-studied. There isn’t much regulation on makeup and skin care products, which is alarming. We don’t have any regulation as to what ingredients should and should not be used. With Skinuva Brite, for instance, we do not use any parabens, silicone, or dyes. And, we’ve undergone extensive dermatologic testing and other laboratory testing (non-animal of course) to make sure our products are safe for long term use. We certainly need better regulation to make sure that our younger generation uses products that been adequately tested and shown to be safe for long term, daily use.

You are an expert about beauty. Can you share 5 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  • Try to stay hydrated, it’s good for you.
  • Use sunscreen, with SPF30, when you are outdoors.
  • It’s OK to have some maintenance botox and fillers, when done in moderation. But make sure these procedures are performed by a skilled injector with adequate training and experience.
  • It’s OK to treat yourself to looking beautiful.
  • It’s OK to undergo a plastic surgery procedure when it’s indicated. Make sure you do your research and meet with a board-certified plastic surgeon, facial plastic surgeon, oculoplastic surgeon, or dermatologist, depending on what procedure you’re having.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I’d like to be a good example for others in this world. There are so many people that are trying to find shortcuts for instant success or happiness. But in my opinion, hard work, motivation, and passion cannot be shortcutted. I want others to hear my story and become motivated to chase their passions, their dreams. Becoming one of a handful of surgeons that specializes in Oculoplastic Surgery takes nearly 15 years of training, from college, to medical school, to internship, residency, and then fellowship. Then once you’re done, you have to start your practice! It sounds daunting, but the joys from this journey are infinite. I confidently can say that my opportunities as an inventor and entrepreneur would not have been possible, nor would have been the success of Skinuva, if it wasn’t for my career as a doctor. From a happiness standpoint, happiness cannot be bought or achieved. It’s a state that we need to constantly remind ourselves that is defined by ourselves.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Short cuts make long delays.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien,

Do things right the first time.

How can our readers follow you online?

I’m on IG at @drchristopherzoumalan and you can follow my Skinuva product line at @skinuva

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.




In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis is an active mother of three as well as a designer, founder, social media expert, and philanthropist.

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