Testing the Waters

Had it not been for a bout of seasickness, noted dermatologist Mark G. Rubin, MD, may have found a different career.
Testing the Waters

When New Jersey-born Mark G. Rubin, MD, was growing up, medicine was part of the family. As a child, he assumed he would follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather and become a physician. But the lure of the ocean almost kept him away.

“I certainly was dabbling with pre-med in college at Colgate. I had a strong interest in medicine and considered going into it my whole life,” he says. “But I liked oceanography a lot. I graduated with a degree in Marine Science and had a hard time deciding whether I was going to do that or pursue medicine.”

Fortunately for the world of dermatology, Dr. Rubin was prone to seasickness. As the oceanographic cruises took their toll on his stomach, his decision became clear.

He decided to attend medical school at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, and it wasn’t long before he became intrigued by the field of dermatology. “I liked the idea that you didn’t have to do a lot of tests to figure out what was wrong with a patient. By listening to the history and examining the patient, most of the time you could figure out what the problem was,” says Dr. Rubin. “Plus, at the time, there were a lot of minor dermatology procedures—like biopsies or mole removals—that were just fun to do. It wasn’t all cerebral, like an internist who just ordered tests and sat in an office, and it wasn’t all about just doing a procedure all day long like surgery. I liked that balance.”

The Road to 90210

After completing his residency in 1981, Dr. Rubin joined an existing practice. Once there, he learned quickly that he had strong ideas about the way things should be run—ideas that differed from those of his colleagues.

“I worked with a couple of other physicians initially before I opened my own practice, and it always made me feel like I wasn’t the captain of my own destiny,” he says. “I came to the understanding that I needed to run my own practice for me to really be happy about how things were going to work.”

He spent his first decade in practice in Solana Beach, California, but a fortuitous meeting with plastic surgeon, Frank Kamer, MD, during a faculty dinner in Europe brought him to the Lasky Clinic in Beverly Hills, California. “Dr. Kamer invited me to come up and join his clinic as a dermatologist working with several plastic surgeons, which at the time was a pretty unique idea,” Dr. Rubin says. “It was a really exciting opportunity to learn from plastic surgeons and teach them at the same time.”

Being part of the world-renowned clinic made it easier to start a new practice—the Lasky Skin Center—in the highly competitive Beverly Hills area, as the clinic had a strong in-house referral system and would send many nonsurgical patients to him.

Through the Years

When Dr. Rubin first entered clinical practice, there wasn’t a lot to the field of cosmetic dermatology; it was basically chemical peels and skin care, which happened to be his first love in the field. “That was the majority of what we did, and the collagen-based fillers were just becoming available at that time as well,” he says. “There weren’t many skincare products at that time, and people were just starting to understand that taking care of your skin every day could actually improve your skin quality over time.”

Over the next decade, several laser systems were developed, including resurfacing lasers, which began to replace the broad use of chemical peels. They were joined by a variety of non-collagen fillers, then neurotoxins burst on to the scene. Today, Dr. Rubin’s practice specializes in nonsurgical skin rejuvenation and offers fillers, neurotoxin injections and skin care.

Photo by Cory Sorensen.