You’re likely familiar with the Golden Ratio, represented by the Greek letter phi [φ] in mathematics, as it relates to Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, in which Da Vinci used the proportions of the ratio to create the ideal man. The ratio, which crops up even in nature, has been connected to ideas of beauty in human facial features and proportions.
Dr. Shawn Allen, founder of Boulder-based Dermatology Specialists, utilizes this belief and this ratio in his own practice. Dr. Allen’s artistic touch can be clearly seen in the before and after images in his office and on his website, but he says that there’s so much more to how he practices than a good before and after.
Dr. Allen’s calm confidence and his passion for changing lives through medicine and his practice are evident the moment he steps into a room. When we spoke, one of the first stories he told me was about a woman who repeatedly asked him to fill a single wrinkle in her face.
Initially, Dr. Allen balked at the idea. He explains to me that the line was hardly noticeable and that he thought he was doing the responsible thing, turning down financial gain for what he thought was an unnecessary procedure.
After a year of return visits and requests, Dr. Allen gave in and filled the line for her.
“I put just a little bit of filler in there,” Dr. Allen says. “If you took her before and after pictures, you would say ‘you did nothing.’ But she came back to me two months later and said that I changed her life forever.”
That small line, hardly noticeable to anyone on the outside, was harming her confidence to the point where she would turn her face and body away from people to hide the wrinkle, closing her off to conversations, interactions and people.
Dr. Allen says that experience, which occurred over a decade ago, has helped shape how he approaches medicine and dermatology to this day.
“It’s when the light bulb went off for me that it’s not about my before and after pictures being amazing, it’s about what happened to the human being during the process of me doing what I do. That’s where the real magic happens.”
That human experience and connection have extended from Dr. Allen and his patients to his entire practice. Dr. Allen wants everyone working at or visiting any of Dermatology Specialists’ four locations to feel seen, heard, understood and happy
Last year, he hired Olga Heifets to be the director of culture and communication at the practice. This type of title is unheard of at medical practices, but for Dr. Allen and his employees, their work is not about getting patients through the door: it’s about making sure that each person feels connected and they trust the people around them.
And with studies showing that the power of doctor empathy can help patients heal, it seems like Dermatology Specialists practices and ideals are the way medicine should continue to move.