Lisa Cheley Espinoza, MD, turned her struggle with severe acne as a teen and young adult into a career dedicated to beauty.
Dr. Espinoza knew from the start of her career as a physician that she would be devoted to aesthetics and opened a 100% aesthetic laser and injectable practice nearly 15 years ago. Today, La Chelé Medical Aesthetics in New Hope, Penn., is more than 6,000 square feet, employs 30 staff and houses 26 devices, offering patients a full spectrum of laser and injectable services, as well as hormone and anti-aging treatments.
“To me, aesthetics was very personal. I grew up with severe acne and my parents didn’t necessarily believe in taking me to a dermatologist,” she says.
Dr. Espinoza spent her teen years as a professional ballerina, training and dancing for the Los Angeles Classical Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and the Joffrey Ballet, among others. The art and beauty associated with classical ballet further magnified Dr. Espinoza’s struggles with the chronic skin disease. She says she wore more and more makeup to hide the imperfections and ended up with horrendous skin for most of her childhood and adult life.
“For every birthday, for most of my life, I would blow out my candles making my wish to wake up with clear skin,” she recalls.
Dr. Espinoza worked at a dermatology office while in college at UCLA in the 1990s. She said the dermatologists were using CO2 lasers for acne scarring, and she became the practice guinea pig trying everything possible, including medications, chemical peels and lasers, to clear her skin and the scarring the acne left behind.
“I was addicted to skin. I was addicted to helping people with bad skin and whom had very low self-esteem,” she says.
Today, Dr. Espinoza says she’s happy with the skin she’s in, but the experience left her wanting to help others. “Aesthetics has changed my life. But people continue to underestimate the psychological trauma from severe acne,” Dr. Espinoza says.
To this day, Dr. Espinoza will do whatever it takes to help a severe acne patient – even if that patient cannot afford the treatment Dr. Espinoza recommends.
“I just have a lot of compassion and tailor my laser practice to giving some acne patients discounted procedures – people who I just identify with. I’m very fortunate,” she says.
Dr. Espinoza uses a multimodal approach to treat acne and smooth the skin. She first maximizes patients’ use of topicals, then adds monthly microdermabrasion, mild peels or Neoclear (Aerolase) laser treat- ments. Most of the time, she’ll use all three, she says.
“Truly for acne scarring, which can be one of the most difficult things to treat, it is a multi- laser treatment modality,” according to Dr. Espinoza.
Dr. Espinoza launched her career with an aesthetics-only practice right when she came out of training. In the year 2004, many in medicine thought that practicing only cosmetic medicine was a sell-out. Despite that, she forged forward, becoming one of the largest injectors on the East Coast and most sought-after trainers.
“I was very fortunate to be one of the first females on Allergan and Galderma’s advisory boards, because I was the largest injector in Pennsylvania at one time,” Dr. Espinoza says. “I am passionate about teaching because so much of what I do now is making sure the field is safe – that people who are injecting know their anatomy and appropriate injection techniques. I don’t care what your field is. You can’t dabble in aesthetics. You can’t learn it in a weekend course. These are people’s faces and you have to live and breathe injecting.”
Dr. Espinoza says some of her biggest career accomplishments have been being asked to serve on advisory boards, as well as to speak, provide training for and conduct research with major companies.
“To be regarded and asked to do a clinical study with some of these major companies is a big deal. It is a different level,” she says. “I’m such a nerd at heart and a believer in clinical research.”
Today, her practice offers the spectrum of aesthetic services, from hair restoration and all aspects of nonsurgical facial rejuvenation to body sculpting. Dr. Espinoza teaches phy- sicians and nurse injectors every week.
She is expanding her practice, with plans to open another facility in 2020. And, on her downtime, she continues to dance – a little ballet and a lot of hip hop.
“Put some good Beyoncé on, and I love hip hop dance classes. That’s my happy place,” she says.
Good to Know
Fast Facts about Dr. Lisa Espinoza
Q: What’s your favorite quote?
“People will throw stones at you. Don’t throw them back. Collect them all and build an empire.”
Q: What are your favorite things to eat?
Cheese, sushi and dark chocolate.
Q: What is your favorite procedure at the moment?
My all-time favorite in practice is fillers because of the artistry involved. But I’m loving the EmbraceRF by Inmode. It internally and externally heats the skin so you go inside
the neck to define jawlines. It also can liquify submental neck fat. It is really a game- changer and it is something that I do every day. It is challenging but fun.