In Profile: Dr Beth Briden

01 Nov 2014

Dr Beth Briden is medical director and CEO of the Advanced Dermatology and Cosmetic Institute, Minnesota. A leading dermatologist, adjunct clinical professor and lecturer, Dr Briden shares her journey into medical aesthetics

“We still can’t fool mother nature – not yet” 

Dr Beth Briden is medical director and CEO of the Advanced Dermatology and Cosmetic Institute, Minnesota. A leading dermatologist, adjunct clinical professor and lecturer, Dr Briden shares her journey into medical aesthetics 

After graduating medical school in her home state of Minnesota, Dr Beth Briden started her 25-year career in aesthetics. The senior partner in the clinic where she began practising dermatology was involved in the initial studies of Retin-A for the treatment of photo-ageing. “The partner did not actually like aesthetics,” she explains. “So he asked me to be their spokesperson and become involved in the clinical studies for the treatment of fine lines and wrinkles.” This, along with discoveries such as the effect of the alpha hydroxyl acids on the skin by Dr Eugene Van Scott and Dr Ruey Yu, meant that practitioners could renew skin and potentially reverse photoageing. From then on her interest in improving the skin both medically and aesthetically increased. Dr Briden explains that although aesthetics was in its infancy, the late 1980s was an exciting time for newly qualified practitioners. “You had to keep educated and up-to-date with all the new advancements in cosmeceuticals, lasers, fillers and chemical peels,” she says.
In 1996 Dr Briden opened her combined general and cosmetic dermatology clinic and, in 2000, she became one of the founding members of the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS), serving on its board of directors for four years. As she continues to travel the world, lecturing colleagues in aesthetic and dermatologic advancements, Dr Briden advises, “When you give lectures at these meetings, you have to review all of the literature and make sure you are up-to-date on everything. I also like to go to the exhibit halls and take a look at all the new treatments and products. Although, you must do your own research to see if the product is as good as they say.” Before graduating, Dr Briden had wanted to become a cardiologist. But, she admits that she found being unable to help very ill patients more challenging than she anticipated. Instead, she chose to practise dermatology, another of her favourite subjects at medical school. “You get to see all types of patients and age groups; babies, teenagers, young adults and some older people,” she enthuses. “There was more variety, which I liked, and I had the opportunity to do surgery, as well as study the internal aspects of medicine such as the cause of drug rashes, and how some dermatologic conditions have systemic effects.” Although she says aesthetics is an enjoyable part of her work, Dr Briden notes each patient, whether his or her concern is health-based or purely aesthetic, should be given equal time and attention in the consultation period. “The biggest complaint we get from patients is that they previously saw another doctor who didn’t give them enough attention. They didn’t spend time or listen.” Dr Briden advises, “In the long run it helps to do so because you will build a life-long patient.” Managing expectations is also important to Dr Briden. “Explain to patients that there’s no fountain of youth and no product or procedure can take care of everything. 
We still can’t fool mother nature – not yet,” she affirms. Advising both patients and practitioners on the aesthetic benefits of a healthy diet has become an essential part of Dr Briden’s remit. She explains that working in anti-ageing medicine has led her to study the effects of glycation and nutraceuticals. “I’m becoming more interested in diet as we find out more about nutrition and food products,” she explains. This year she has given a number of lectures on glycation and the effect it has on the skin. But the achievement she is most proud of is starting her own clinic 18 years ago. She explains that many of the employees she hired then, still work for her now, as well as patients she first treated as children. “It’s fun to see the children you treated, now grown up and having children of their own,” she says. Looking to the future, Dr Briden hopes to expand the skincare she sells in her clinic. “It’s a fun interest,” she says. “We currently sell a big consortium of therapeutic skincare products that we try to tailor and prescribe to patients’ individual needs.” Dr Briden notes that she has been very lucky to experience such a varied and gratifying career: “I’ve met lots of wonderful people and seen some wonderful sights.” She adds that the key to her success is her enjoyment of her work. “You spend too much time at work not to enjoy it. Aesthetics is an exciting field and it is important to keep up-to-date with the industry and spend time with the patients – you can learn a lot from them.” 

What treatment do you enjoy giving the most?

Chemical peels because you can converse with the patient whilst treating them.

What’s your favourite technological tool?

Probably our IPL lasers as we use these the most. In Minnesota we have a lot of fair-skinned patients with rosacea and age-spots; the laser can take care of those.

What is your industry pet-hate?

Probably the industry promising too much, whether that be skincare products or lasers that don’t match up to expectations. There’s often not enough clinical studies or scientific evidence behind products and the claims that manufacturers make.

What aspects of the industry do you enjoy the most?

The opportunities that are out there: all the techniques, scientific advances and knowledge that’s available.

Do you have an ethos that you practise by?

Be honest and do your best, that’s all you can do. Give patients realistic expectations and try not to oversell products. 

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