Cosmetic dermatologist Tess Mauricio, MD, originally planned to pursue a career in psychiatry. Her goal was simple: to make people happier. “If we don’t feel OK on the inside, then nothing is OK,” she says.
Then something funny happened: During her dermatology rotation, she discovered she was able to achieve her goal of elevating patients’ moods by addressing their skincare concerns. “By improving the skin, I can improve a person’s quality of life,” she says. “Through today’s amazing techniques and technologies, I can help boost my patients’ self-esteem and self-confidence. I realized that dermatology is my true calling.”
Ten years later, Dr. Mauricio—or “Dr. Tess,” as her patients call her—has built a mini-empire. She is the founder of five private practices located throughout Southern California, including four “M Beauty by Dr. Tess” clinics; hosts “The Doctor Tess” television show; and is currently developing her own product line.
She attributes her success to a combination of factors: She offers the latest technology, products and services; differentiates her practices through specialization; has developed a keen marketing sense; and has a good support system. Most importantly, she and her staff keep patients’ happiness at the top of their minds.
From Two Rooms to Five Locations
After completing her dermatology residency at the University of California, San Diego, Dr. Mauricio joined a group dermatology practice but quickly became disillusioned. “I wanted to practice medicine my way,” she says. “I wanted to spend time with patients. I wanted to approach dermatology holistically.”
She chose to leave the group practice and leased two rooms from her own family doctor, an internist. Her plan was to run a small, part-time practice, assisted by her sister, an RN. The practice had just one phone: her sister’s cell phone. Within a few months, her patient base outgrew those two rented rooms, and she opened her own office in San Diego.
Today, just eight years later, she rotates among five locations, each dedicated to cosmetic dermatology—her practices do not offer reimbursable medical procedures—and staffed by physician extenders, physician assistants and registered nurses.
The key to building a successful business, Dr. Mauricio quickly realized, is figuring out what you’re good at and focusing on your strengths. In her case, she chose medical aesthetic treatments for skin of color. As a Filipina, she has personally experienced the challenges of treating darker skin types. “As a student, I volunteered for a spider vein removal. It was the most painful experience ever. He really zapped me. I ran to the bathroom with large blisters and scars,” she says.
Then and there, Dr. Mauricio made it her quest to offer effective and safe cosmetic treatments for all skin types. “It’s trickier, and you have to have the right technology,” she explains. “The settings and protocols are different. But I have become known for offering safe, effective hair removal and skin rejuvenation for everyone.”
Photography by Cory Sorensen