Exclusive Interview with The Derm Blog's Dr. Jeffrey Benabio, M.D.

Skin Care

Surprise: I have a special treat for my readers!  Today I have an exclusive interview with Dr. Jeffrey Benabio, M.D., a well-renowned board-certified dermatologist and fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology hailing from San Diego.  In addition to being the  founder of TheDermBlog.com, Dr. Benabio is also a founding member of and the skin care expert for Livestrong.com, the new health and wellness website from Lance Armstrong.

He has been mentioned in or appeared inThe Wall Street JournalMuscle and Fitness MagazineDermatology News,Dermatology World, Self Magazine, Allure MagazineDetails Magazine, AOL Online, MSNBC Online, FOX Online, Woman’s World MagazineBest Health MagazineO, The Oprah Magazine, Elle Magazine. Glamour, Bottom Line Personal, and on iVillage.com.  We’re stoked to have you here, Dr. Benabio!

Nicki:  I read in your profile that you graduated first in your medical school class. Congratulations! A number of med students read my blog, so please, tell us, what were the secrets to your success? 

Dr. Benabio:  I did four important things:

  • 1) Exercised every day.
  • 2) Slept 7 to 8 hours a night.
  • 3) Set a strict study schedule and never veered from it.
  • 4) Scheduled time off with my wife when we didn’t talk during school. It’s extremely difficult to find balance when you’re in medical school, but if you don’t take care of your body’s physical and emotional needs, then you’ll set yourself up for failure.

NZ:  What made you want to become a dermatologist?

JB:  Several factors, actually. I had the honor to work with stellar dermatologists including Dr. Joe Jorizzo and Dr. Steve Feldman, who inspired me daily and instilled in me a love of dermatology. I also noticed that all of theses successful doctors were happy in their personal lives — they had strong marriages, spent time with their children, and made family dinners and vacations a priority — and I wanted that quality of life as well. I also enjoyed the daily challenges that dermatology offered and the ability to build relationships with patients over an extended period of time.

NZ:  What are the best aspects of your job?

JB:  Interacting with my patients is by far the best part of my job.

At Kaiser Permanente, I’ve had the opportunity to become a leader in telederm which has been exciting on more than one level. I’m able to help more patients, and I’ve become a leader in telederm, teaching physicians throughout the country how to use telederm effectively.

NZ: What products do you often recommend to your patients and readers?

JB:  I recommend almost exclusively over-the-counter products. Neutrogena for sunscreens, Oil of Olay for night creams, and Dove for body wash and now deodorant. The new Dove Men + Care line has been a great addition to that line.

NZ:  Many of my readers are looking for “beauty on a budget.” If readers can only afford one dermatological procedure, what should they spring for?

JB:  Botox.

NZ:  Tell us about your most rewarding experience as a derm.

JB:  It’s impossible to pick one experience. Everyday getting to know patients and their families is rewarding. Dermatology is wonderful in particular because we are able to “fix” so many problems for such a wide variety of people. In the 4 years I’ve been practicing some patients are more memorable than others, but nearly all patients are grateful for my help and guidance. I’m lucky to be in this profession.

NZ: You have a very popular blog, The Derm Blog. Tell us about what made you start it.

JB:  There’s a lot of misinformation about dermatology and skincare on the internet. I wanted to provide accurate, unbiased information for people to help them make smarter skin care choices in their own lives.

NZ:  Medicine is a highly regulated field, and there is currently a lot of grey area in how physicians should conduct themselves online. How do you feel about doctors and social media?

JB:  Social media is where the conversations of today are happening. If doctors aren’t engaging in social media, then we’re missing out on critical conversations. I think doctors should use social media in ethical and responsible ways. They should provide general knowledge, not provide medical advice to specific readers. They should also keep their professional and personal social media profiles separate.

NZ: Your wife also has a blog, Food Blogga! And a cookbook! How do your online ventures influence one another?

JB:  Actually, she has two cookbooks: Recipes Every Man Should Know and The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches. I know — I’ve tasted every recipe in both books. Sue and I are a great team; we help each other all the time, whether it’s brainstorming ideas or proofreading a post, we’re there for each other. We both feel lucky to have one another.

NZ:  Do you have any advice for readers about blogging?

JB:  Make sure before you start a blog that you know your brand. Ask yourself, “What’s my brand?” “What’s the promise I’m making to my readers?” Until you answer that, don’t start blogging. It’ll make your life a whole lot easier.

NZ:  What are your hopes for the future of your career? Are you the next Dr. Oz? 

JB:  I’m active in dermatology, Health 2.0, innovation, social media, and more, so I hope to continue to build upon these interests. The next Dr. Oz? I think “Benabio” is too long. If I have my own tv show some day, maybe I’ll be Dermdoc.

NZ: What do you feel is the benefit of reading publications like FutureDerm, The Beauty Brains, your own The Derm Blog, and other science-related beauty blogs?

JB:  No matter where you are in your career, you should be reading current, relevant materials from academic journals to websites. I don’t ever intend to stop being an active learner.

Wow, thank you for all of the great information, Dr. Benabio!  I feel like I’ve learned so much, and that’s only from the interview.  If you’d like to continue learning more about derm+skin care with Dr. Benabio, be sure to check out The Derm Blog.  Follow him on Twitter as @dermdoc.  

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