Lara Devgan, MD, MPH, is a plastic surgeon with a busy New York City practice. But that is only one of the many hats she wears.
Dr. Devgan is also chief medical officer of RealSelf, the world’s leading online destination for people interested in aesthetic procedures. She is the CEO of her medical-grade luxury skincare line, Dr. Devgan’s Scientific Beauty, she hosts a popular iTunes podcast called Beauty Bosses, and teaches quarterly injectable master classes in New York. And we haven’t even mentioned her personal life!
“I have a lot of things I’m very passionate about, in addition to being a woman, a wife and mom to six young children,” Dr. Devgan said.
Plastic surgery: The chosen specialty
Dr. Devgan’s focus on science started in premed, while she was at Yale. “That is where I worked at my first biochemistry lab,” she said.
She went to medical school at Johns Hopkins, where she earned an MD and master’s in public health with a focus in epidemiology and biostatistics.
Despite having a scientific mind, Dr. Devgan chose plastic surgery because she said it is an incredibly artistic field. She completed her residency and fellowship at New York Presbyterian Hospital.
“The other thing about plastic surgery that I think is so amazing is that it is a field that for so long has focused on women. Over 90% of plastic surgery patients are women,” she said. “I wanted the opportunity to be a voice for the patients.
”Now five years into her practice, and in her late 30s, Dr. Devgan feels it is a great time to be a woman in the specialty. She embraces the notion that in 2019 it is no longer a choice between being a person of substance and being someone who cares about their appearance.
“We are finally in an era where you can be a feminist and wear lipstick,” she declared. “Beyond that, we are in a time when beauty has been democratized, so you can be your own kind of beautiful. You don’t have to look like the cover of a magazine; you can look exactly like yourself, but in a slightly more optimized way that will make you feel more confident.”
She focuses on being fully vertically integrated in practice, which means striving to meet a patient exactly where he or she is in their aesthetic journey. "This is why I offer everything from topical skincare products, skin resurfacing treatments and injectables, to major surgical procedures,” Dr. Devgan noted.
“I consider myself part of this new school in plastic surgery where the modern approach is not about the most we can do, but rather the best that we can do. It is about helping people feel like the best version of themselves rather than like an inadequate version of somebody else.”
When RealSelf CEO Tom Seery approached Dr. Devgan about serving as CMO for the popular online destination, Dr. Devgan said she accepted the post because she and Mr. Seery see eye-to-eye on another of Dr. Devgan’s passions: transparency in medical aesthetics.
“We both really value education of the public and information dissemination. I think that in 2019, information is our most precious commodity,” she said.
When it comes to skincare, Dr. Devgan combines passion with keen business sense. Dr. Devgan’s Scientific Beauty line just launched at the high-end retailer Violet Grey and has had popup shops at Bergdorf Goodman and other retailers.
“I am a beauty and skincare junkie myself, but I’m also annoyingly rational and extremely practical and I have this huge science background,” she began.
“I wanted to create the type of skincare line I would use,” she elaborated. “My skincare line is based on medical grade ingredients that have all been demonstrated in large-scale randomized controlled studies. And it is also presented to the consumer in a pleasant, palatable, luxury experience because the only products that can help you are products that you are willing to use.”
Most medical grade products are unappealing and people stop using them because they do not have a good user experience and then they do not reap the full benefits of the products,” she continued. “It is really all about performance beauty.”
Woman to woman
Dr. Devgan said the rumors are true: “As a woman in a male-dominated industry, you have to work twice as hard to get half the credit.”
But with great mentors (men and women) and hard work, the world is a woman’s oyster, she added.
“My advice is to be authentic and take excellent care of each and every patient,” Dr. Devgan advised. “If you do good work consistently and really think of medicine as an N equals 1 experience, where it is all about the patient who is right in front of you, that approach can build and mushroom over time and become something that is really special.”
5 random facts about Dr. Devgan
Q: What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
A: I hug my kids, then shortly thereafter check my email.
Q: Who is your professional role model?
A: Rosalind Franklin, one of the co-discoverers who made contributions to understanding the molecular structure of DNA and RNA. I think that her contributions to the structure of DNA were largely recognized after she died. She was a really brilliant English chemist who worked very hard and diligently for the greater good. And she is one of those unsung female heroes without whom we wouldn’t be where we are today.
Q: What did you want to be growing up?
A: An artist or a doctor.
Q: If you could only eat three foods for the rest of your life, what would they be?
A: A yellowtail scallion roll, Diet Coke and vanilla ice cream.
Q: What’s your favorite quote?
A: ‘Discretion is the better part of valor.’ (William Shakespeare). I also like ‘Subtle is the new dramatic.’ (I think I said that one.)