Recipe for aesthetic success
Mix together a successful family, an international education and a wealth of experience, stir well and we have a serving of dermatologist Dr Rachael Eckel
1 commercial airline pilot for travel
1 professional opera singer for performance
1 professor of radiology for medicine
1 cosmetologist for beauty
Mix ingredients together in one multi-ethnic Caribbean island for 17 years. Allow to marinate with an elite international education, before seasoning with a topical agent skincare guru.
Lay on a base of precision for zest and opulence. Bake on a high heat for 30 years.
One precisionist cosmetic dermatologist with a gusto for topical agents and remedying ethnic skin, who loves to travel and perform—served!
My father was a polished pilot with an insatiable zeal for travel and learning about new cultures.
During the zenith of the commercial airline business, he was one of only two Caribbean pilots chosen to work for the glamorised PanAm.
Due to his talent and proficiency as an airman, my father was nominated to provide air support in the war, and later became ceremonially decorated for his exceptionally heroic efforts.
An alluring opera singer with a long and distinguished career, my mother was renowned for her ability to captivate and connect with any audience.
For her loyal and devoted service to the artistic sector of our country, Trinidad, the President awarded her the Hummingbird Gold Medal of Honour.
My brother, an accomplished Professor of Radiology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), is acclaimed for his refined skill in breast intervention.
With a unique approach to skincare and frontline experience in the beauty industry, my sister has been named a ‘superfacialist’ cosmetologist.
In the French colloquial word, I was a lagniappe; a “little something extra” that arrived 20 years after my siblings. As my brother and sister were so much older, growing up was like having two pairs of influencing parents.
An integral part of our daily family life was music and performance. We were the Trinidadian von Trapps, if you will.
From a young age, I was encouraged by my mother to sing and play instruments. I partook in many national musical contests garnering several first place trophies.
With a background of high achievers, I knew then that I too enjoyed competition and being on stage entertaining an audience.
My fascination with my big brother’s medical tales, coupled with my enthusiasm for human biology, motivated me to apply to medical school in Ireland.
My first interview was conducted at the age of 16, and I was accepted to enter the prestigious program. The Royal College of Surgeons offered an exceptional curriculum.
Research was highly encouraged from an early stage, and I was awarded two state research grants for projects, which I completed in the Anatomy and Biochemistry departments.
Medical school was indeed demanding at times, but as my older brother taught me ‘slow and steady wins the race’.
With this value in mind, I paced myself, and went on to win six first place medals for outstanding academic achievements.
I began my postgraduate dermatology training at the eminent St. Bartholomews and the London School of Medicine, where I received a distinction in my thesis on leprosy and its history in the Caribbean. But dermatology is a vast subject with many conditions to be familiar with; in order to become an expert one must narrow their training focus.
Although a relatively novel field, I chose cosmetic dermatology as my subspecialty. My sister’s ability to inspire confidence through simple beautification techniques was a motivating force. This artistic discipline also allowed me to capitalize on my high manual dexterity and creative disposition.
In 2012 I gained my American Board Certification in aesthetic medicine, and placed first in my graduating year.
I was nominated by the President onto this academy’s Faculty, to teach and examine physicians worldwide in skincare and cosmetic medicine advances.
I remain the youngest doctor to ever achieve such esteemed membership.
Coming from the Caribbean, I have an appreciation for the beauty of ethnic skin and a proclivity towards treating it. However, this is a notoriously onerous category for dermatologists to remedy.
To refine my skillset, I decided to personally train under Dr Zein Obagi; the world authority in managing darker skin types for over thirty years.
During my time with him in Beverly Hills, I also discovered my avidity for topical skincare agents, a domain which Dr. Obagi has pioneered for decades.
Today I remain actively involved in scientific audit, research, journal publications and physician education. I continue to be closely mentored by Dr Obagi, who personally nominated me to lead his venerable ZO Skin Health International Faculty Board.
I lecture extensively worldwide and provide master class training with a principal interest in topical skincare agents and chemical peels.
In the past two months I was afforded the opportunity to visit Russia, Dubai, Monaco, Paris, Germany, Norway and Sweden.
This hectic travel schedule performing globally in front of large audiences was somewhat foreseeable given my father’s history in aviation and my mother’s career on stage.
This international experience as an educator also gives me valuable insight into the field of aesthetic medicine. I am regularly exposed to varying cultures with diverse cosmetic needs, procedures and disease treatments.
Teaching also forces me to stay scientifically current, so that I am equipped to respond to questions factually. This means that my educational programs and clinical practice are grounded in the latest science.
A student once commented how far reaching teaching can be: as a Physician in an office, I can only affect the lives of the community I serve, but as a teacher to Doctors, I can ‘transform a world’.
Those close to me have often quipped that I never seem to ‘switch off’. I would argue instead that I am one of the lucky who has the ability to remain ‘switched on’.
It is this very characteristic that underpins my precision and all of my achievements; it was with me when I won my first trophy for singing at aged 8 and more recently when Dr Obagi gifted me the opportunity to edit his latest book.
It fosters my voracious desire to improve my scientific knowledge and nurtures my imagination to advance the field of cosmetic dermatology.
When you carefully knead together the correct balance of familial influences, a zesty island, a master mentor, and a tireless drive, you get yourself a 5 foot 10 inch serving of Dr Rachael Eckel.
Dr Rachael Eckel is a Cosmetic Dermatologist and Key Opinion Leader