As a teenager, Edward Glassberg, MD, struggled with severe acne and was treated by a dermatologist for several years. The experience led him to consider a career in medicine. After graduating summa cum laude from the University of California, Los Angeles with a Bachelors of Science degree, he was accepted into the University of Southern California (USC) School of Medicine.
“I considered going into neurosurgery for a while, but I didn’t love the idea of being married to the hospital and spending so many long hours there,” he says. “In my third year of medical school, I started looking into office-based specialties and took a two-month rotation in the dermatology clinic. I fell in love with it.”
One of the professors with whom he worked closely was Gary Lask, MD, a laser expert and Mohs micrographic surgeon. “I worked with him one summer and that developed into a long-term relationship. I ultimately ended up doing research with him in the laser field for a couple of years before my residency,” says Dr. Glassberg. “I was exposed to a lot of cutting-edge laser technologies and was involved in research during the very early aspects of lasers in dermatology—in the mid-1980s and early 1990s.”
Dr. Glassberg went on to conduct research on dermatologic laser applications at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where he also completed his residency in dermatology before finishing a formal fellowship in Mohs surgery.
A Friendship Turned Partnership
During his time at USC, Dr. Glassberg met Bryna Kane, MD, a dermatology resident in the Harbor-UCLA residency program. “We hit it off right away; six years later, she was my pediatric dermatology attending when I was a senior dermatology resident at Harbor-UCLA,” he says.
He began working with Dr. Kane’s private practice on and off during residency. “In my third year of residency, I began moonlighting for her practice when she was pregnant with her son. I also worked for her part time before and after my Mohs surgery fellowship,” he says.
In the early 1990s, the two decided to join forces and open the Laser Skin Care Center/Dermatology Associates in Long Beach, California. “We knew that lasers had a promising future. There was a growing demand and not a lot of people offering them,” says Dr. Glassberg. “When we started, it was just Dr. Kane and myself, one nurse and one front office person, and we were on a shoestring budget.”
The biggest challenge for the fledgling practice was deciding exactly which lasers to add and acquiring the money to pay for them. “The cost can be prohibitive for all that technology. On top of opening a new practice, we had student loans. It’s hard to take that big step and do everything you want from the get-go,” says Dr. Glassberg. “Our strategy was to start with the three most versatile and in-demand lasers at the time—and we rented them.”
They continued to work in their current practices to help bankroll the new business. Within two years, they were both able to leave their old positions and transition to Laser Skin Care full time. As the practice grew, Drs. Glassberg and Kane purchased the three original technologies and several more. Today, the practice has more than 15 different laser devices.
“When we started, there were maybe a half dozen lasers to choose from, but now it’s a much harder thing to ponder because there are so many different aesthetic machines and devices,” says Dr. Glassberg. “If you want a full complement of technologies, you could easily spend a couple of million dollars or more. My advice to others starting out is to focus on two or three machines, evaluate them and the patients’ responses, and as time goes on and your cash flow improves, invest in others.”
Over the years, the practice expanded to its current 13,000-square-foot facility and now includes three partners—Dr. Glassberg, Dr. Kane and Joanna Chan, MD, a Harvard graduate, dermatologist and Mohs surgeon who joined the Laser Skin Care Center about five years ago—plus four associate physicians, two physician assistants, a registered nurse, an esthetician, two dermatopathologists and a dedicated support staff.
“Our aim is not to look like a Beverly Hills plastic surgery office with marble floors and $100,000 art on the walls, but we also do not want to look like a low-budget community clinic,” says Dr. Glassberg. “It’s elegant and classy but not over-the-top fancy. There are six-foot-wide hallways and lots of lighting; it’s very inviting and warm. The staff is professional and friendly, and the nursing stations are open and accessible to the patient care areas. We want people to see this as a beautiful place but also a professional practice.”
Photography by Cory Sorensen