Getting to know… Ritu Gupta of Platinum Dermatology Skin Specialists

At Platinum Dermatology, we offer state-of-the-art skin care treatments in a relaxing, patient-oriented environment based in Ultimo.

www.platinumdermatology.com.au

Tell us about yourself

I am a mum with 3 kids, a dermatologist, and I work and live in the Inner West. I was brought up on the Central Coast and did my medical degree, PhD and dermatology training in Sydney. I have the usual struggle with the juggle that happens when balancing 3 school-aged kids and being a working mum so I relate to the other mums on Inner West Mums.

I work 4 days per week and I try and make my appointment times friendly to working parents so I start at 7am on a Wednesday (which also means I can pick up my kids from school!).

In my spare time, which is limited, I am an amateur opera singer. I am currently working towards a solo recital. I have sung in the Sydney Philharmonic choir and have been in the Rockdale Opera. I absolutely love singing and it’s the one thing I do for me. Find a passion just for you and work towards it, is a great mantra to have.

I’ve always loved food and wine, although that has taken a backseat with kids. We have just started travelling with the kids, we took them to India which means they stay in touch with their heritage. I’m Indian and speak to my kids in Hindi to keep the culture going.

Tell us about Platinum Dermatology Skin Specialists

I started the business 4 years ago because I wanted to run my own practice offering the level of care I wanted. I also wanted more control over my working environment so that I could balance that with my family. I love the care that I have for my patients; they are all special to me. I know all about their lives, their occupation, hobbies, and their history. Often people say “I can’t believe you remember that about me”.

I do a mixture of 50/50 cosmetic dermatology and medical and surgical. A lot of my cosmetic patients come first for a skin check and then start asking about the cosmetic side of things.

I am the one who is doing everything; I am the specialist and I have my hand on the needle or on the laser device for all of the procedures. I have 18 years of training and focus on my patients and their safety.

In the skin cancer clinics, they are GPs and are not trained in skin. They are not experienced, they don’t specialise in skin and they don’t refer on to specialist dermatologists if there is a suspected issue. They work on volume, the more you cut the more you bill. As a specialist, my code of ethics is different. Anything I do to a patient, I would have done on myself or would recommend it to my family – and that’s really important.

What treatments do you provide and who are they for?

I do a combination of medical, surgical and cosmetic treatments.

Medical treatments: full skin examinations, skin checks for melanoma, acne, and acne scarring. Treatment of psoriasis, eczema, skin rashes, children, lumps and bumps.

Surgical: I cut out skin cancers and melanomas and perform quite a lot of facial surgery.

Cosmetic: using laser, and other devices and injectables. I treat broken capillaries, brown marks, age spots, benign lumps and bumps, moles, acne scarring and surgical scarring. I am able to make a difference to a patient’s appearance and life, which helps them feel better about themselves.

I also use deeper lasers to treat wrinkles as many patients come in saying they are sick of looking tired or they suddenly feel like they look old. Often after kids, mums want to do something for themselves and to look refreshed. I prefer to under treat than over treat. The people with duck lips are not my clients and I turn them away. I take a holistic view of the patient and the overall issue they want to treat.

I perform injectable fillers and muscle relaxants injections. I have body sculpting, aka fat freezing, and around 30% of treatments result in permanent reduction. It’s great for mums who have resistant baby weight that they can’t shake!

I have ultrasound skin tightening which stimulates your body’s collagen and is a great option for people who don’t want injectibles. This helps with crow’s feet, jowls and loose neck skin. Thereafter, regular maintenance treatments can help with ongoing collagen production – it all depends on the person’s skin so a tailored approach is vital.

What can your customers expect from Platinum Dermatology?

Excellent service, the highest degree of professionalism and ethics and I will do my best for each and very person who walks through the door. I offer a specialist consultation and assessment and take a holistic approach; I assess the person, finding out what the concerns are and make a tailored plan to suit their skin type. I also take into consideration their budget and any possible downtime from the procedure.

I am passionate about providing doctor education and give lots of talks to GPs on dermatology, sometimes up to 1,300 GPs attend at a time. GPs know that I am a specialist that they can refer to and that I will fit new patients in within 2 weeks. I am honoured that they entrust the care of their patients to me.

What advice can you give for someone considering surgery or treatments for anti-ageing?

You only have one skin; don’t take a chance with it. See a dermatologist for an assessment and if your ageing is severe enough, then the dermatologist will refer you to a reputable plastic surgeon. Even the plastic surgeons don’t do that much surgery as facelifts cost $30,000 and have 3 weeks down time. There are so many other options that work very well at a fraction of the cost and with very little down time, if any. A facelift just tightens, it doesn’t plump, and you can end up looking surprised and startled if you aren’t careful.

Stay away from Google when looking to self diagnose; don’t waste your time reading things that are written by people who are not professionals. No one knows skin, hair and nails like a dermatologist. Come and see me and we can make a plan for you. If you are considering cosmetic work, just call and book an appointment. If you have something medical, it is better to have a referral from your GP.

There are so many treatments out there for skin, how can we tell the real deal vs. those who are relatively untrained? What should we be looking out for?

Look for the letters FACD after someone’s name, it means they are a specialist and a fellow of the Australasian College of Dermatologists. Or look for FRCS (plastics).

Cosmetic surgeons and cosmetic physicians are not specialists, they are GPs and The College of Cosmetic Surgery is not recognised by the Australian Medical College Board as they don’t do entry and exit exams. When it comes to cosmetic nurses, they are often fresh out of nursing and may have just had weekend training in injectables.

With me, you are paying for 18 years of training, knowledge, ethics and experience. There is no comparison.

How often should one have their freckles and moles checked?

There are no hard and fast rules and it depends on things like age, skin colour, family history, occupation and how much time has been spent in the sun. As a general rule a 40-year-old Anglo Saxon would benefit from a one off top to bottom skin check done by a dermatologist.

What appealed to you about becoming a dermatologist?

The thing I love is variety; dermatology is medical, surgical, cosmetic and I have many patients I see every year and I get to know them. Often I treat full families; the mum then the dad and the kids and that is lovely. I feel honoured that they are entrusting their care to me. On the practical side of things I get to set my own hours and don’t work weekends and nights, which fits well with having kids and balancing family. I feel very privileged and I take that duty of care very seriously.

What tips do you have for people to best care for their skin?

  • No smoking
  • Sun protection
  • Sun avoidance
  • Regular reapplication of sunscreen; it’s not a coat of armour and if you apply it in the morning, by lunchtime you need to reapply.

To mums, everything you do for your kids, you should do for yourself. You need to set an example and you need to protect yourself too. The mums with younger kids who are spending time at the park or watching sport – all of that is sun exposure and I see so many sunburnt parents who are good with their own children but don’t apply the same care to themselves.

If you see something that is not right such as a patch of dry skin that isn’t gong away with regular moisturising you need to get it checked as it could be a pre-cancerous spot. Or if something is new, changing or not feeling right – get it checked it out. Australia is the world leader in skin cancer and melanoma.

Tell us about a life changing experience you’ve had?

It would be my parents and the way that they approach life with the things that they have done. They are both GPs on the Central Coast and came to Australia with very little, they had their medical degrees but they had to start again with that. They went from Delhi with 30 million people to Taree and they started with very little and without any support or family. They had me, my brother shortly after and then my sister Nitu (another IWM!) when they were both working and starting a practice. They made financial and personal sacrifices to send us to boarding school as they weren’t happy with the local schools. They taught me to value the opportunities you have and to always do your best. I have my own achievements but everything I have done comes from them and the sacrifices that they have made.

Favourite holiday destination and why?

Europe as there are so many different countries and I love food and wine and there is no shortage of both. I love the different cultures and despite the fact I’m a doctor, I did history and english at school and enjoy the historical sites and the architecture. We took the kids to Greece and showed them the Parthenon where democracy was born. The kids are incredibly fortunate to learn about Pompeii at school and then go to Italy and see it for themselves.

Favourite spots in Sydney’s Inner West?

I love the harbour and living in Balmain. I like Peacock Point in East Balmain, Thornton Park and Birchgrove Oval. I love the village atmosphere of Balmain and see all the people you know around the streets. The great thing about the Inner West is that life is lived on the street. We don’t have huge backyards so it forces people out into the parks so that you get a real community feel.

 

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