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Balance key for M.D., wife, ASDS president

Article-Balance key for M.D., wife, ASDS president

White Plains, N.Y. — When Rhoda S. Narins, M.D., hangs up her lab coat, her day is not over.

Husband and wife team David and Rhoda Narins, M.D., enjoy skiing as a relaxing pastime. (Photo credit: Rhoda S. Narins, M.D.)
Besides practicing as a dermatologic surgeon, she is a mother, grandmother, loving and fun companion to husband and partner-in-practice, David Narins, M.D., and a high-profile academician. And she continues even to make her mark on the political front as president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS).

Finding dermatology

A board-certified dermatologist and clinical professor of dermatology at New York University School of Medicine, Dr. Narins says higher education was always part of her agenda. Growing up in New York City and Westchester County, she was determined to become a nuclear physicist. But during her third year of undergraduate school at Barnard College, Columbia University, the president of the college called her into the office and said that, based on her test results and performance, Dr. Narins would make a great physician.

"I had enough credits to graduate that year and go to medical school the next year. I thought about it for about five minutes, and then I applied that day to NYU and got accepted, contingent upon passing my MCATs," Dr. Narins says.

She was 19 when she started medical school.

Dr. Narins did not choose dermatology; rather, dermatology chose her. She married David (her lifelong sweetheart) at age 20 and became pregnant while in medical school, which caused her to think twice about the demands of the surgical residency for which she had been accepted. A dermatologist and friend of her husband's piqued her interest in dermatology.

"I told her I liked surgery, and she said, 'You could do that in dermatology. In fact, you could do everything in dermatology,'" Dr. Narins says.

She decided to give it a shot, and met with Dr. Rudolph Baer, who in the 1960s was the George Miller MacKee professor and chairman of the New York University department of dermatology. He had already selected his dermatology residents, but agreed to talk with her.

"After one hour, he said that he would take me as a resident," Dr. Narins says. "He took me in, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Serendipity!"

Liposuction, Botox, fillers

In practice since the early 1970s, Dr. Narins has lectured worldwide about the use of tumescent liposuction, botulinum toxin and fillers.

She trained in Paris with Yves Illouz, M.D., and Pierre Fournier, M.D., in liposuction.

"My kids were grown and out of the house by the time I was in my late 30s," she says. "I actually took the liposuction course as a lark — thinking that I'd use it as an excuse to visit Paris. But by the third day of the course, when everybody else was out sightseeing, I was alone with the French physicians, helping them do the surgery, learning as much as I could. I went back several times that year, and brought one of the first liposuction machines in Europe back to the U.S."

Learning liposuction was a turning point for Dr. Narins. It prompted her to focus on the academic side of dermatology. She had already started the surgery unit for Albert Einstein's dermatology department, and then went back to NYU to teach dermatologic surgery and head the liposuction unit.

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