About the doctor
Dr. Sikorski graduated at the top of her class from the University of Rochester Medical School; with high honors from Bryn Mawr College; and cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania. She is an active clinical staff member in the Department of Dermatology at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) and has served in this position for over 19 years – since 1995.
Dr. Sikorski is one of very few physicians that is board certified by the American Board of Dermatology and a Diplomat of the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery. This unusual level of complementary training has given rise to her reputation as an expert in skin and facial surgery. Her earlier training in Fine Arts gave her plenty of background in understanding how to create – and recreate – natural facial contours through surgery. For 15 years she perfected artistic talents through drawing, painting and sculpting as a primary educational pursuit. Transitioning into Cosmetic Surgery put those finely honed skills and training to work right away.
Her medical society memberships and activities include:
Featured as a Top Medical Professional in Orange Coast Magazine 2015
Interview with Dr. Sikorski
How does being a cosmetic surgeon affect how people interact with you?
I’m a mom first. Any mother knows what that encompasses! I’m very down to earth, and owing to my roots and life experiences was taught pretentiousness and ego were things to be avoided. Actually, I’m pretty shy and have to work at overcoming that. I’d have to say what I do doesn’t have too much impact on the people I meet. So far no one’s asked for my autograph :)– but they do often ask how much I charge for a facelift…that just goes with the job. Surgeons are just like anybody else. We just have different skills, experiences and opportunities. My skills as a cosmetic and dermatologic surgeon come from lots of school, some fortunate choices in the training I undertook and some huge education loans. Don’t ask me about med school loans please!
What was the most interesting part of your training?
I have to start way back. I studied art as a child. Starting with pastels and graduating to oil painting, charcoal etc. I loved art appreciation in my upper education classes and enjoy being able to identify artists by their work even now. My art studies fine-tuned my visual perception in ways that have been really beneficial in the surgeries I perform. For instance, I can cut grafts to fit skin defects without a lot of tedious measuring and am very good at puzzles because of some well learned color and shape discrimination. I am also very good at problem solving. That’s been helpful in the research projects I take on, because getting to the core of an issue and discerning the truths can sometimes present their own problems. I can get totally absorbed by very intricate puzzles which most people don’t even want to contemplate starting. I’m hoping my girls develop that same love so we can spend time together over a puzzle table when I’m a retired grandmother!
So art was the major interest in school?
One of them… In college, I studied Psychology. I was particularly interested in the Biologic basis of behavior and I loved anatomy and physiology in medical school. I revel in knowing how things work; particularly the human body and the mind. My honor thesis at the University of Pennsylvania was on the relationship between hormones and dream content in women. I thought I would obtain a PHD in Psychology and went to the University of Penn because it had one of the best undergraduate Psychology programs. The lure was certainly there with eminent professors in Cognitive Psychology i.e. Arron Beck.. the depression scale etc. I loved Penn, the great sculptures around the campus… It was a very stimulating environment.
When did you decide that medicine was the direction you wanted to go in?
I decided to pursue medicine in my senior year of college and enrolled the following year at Bryn Mawr College post-baccalaureate pre-med program. It was an intense year of pre-med science study for University graduates. It was exhausting, but I loved it and knew I’d made the right choice. I was fortunate to be able to study at the University of Rochester Med School. It’s known for its integration of the humanity in medicine. They emphasize compassion and looking at the whole person – not just their disease – and thus viewing each person in the context of their social environment. That exposed me to a broad thought process that keeps me pretty well-balanced and helps me relate to all my patients.
You’re both a Cosmetic Surgeon and Dermatologist. How did that happen?
I choose Dermatology because of the visual emphasis of the specialty. Each rash is a picture and by looking at the rash you know what it is. It was like identifying artists’ works for me and I was good at it in school. My professors loved me! Plus much of the training was very surgical which I found intensely interesting and fulfilling. After Dermatology residency, I completed a fellowship in Cosmetic Surgery where I learned facial plastic surgery and liposuction. My favorite part of the Dermatology residency was cancer surgery and my favorite part of cosmetic surgery fellowship was the visual changes that I could achieve. I’d seen enough of the standard plastic surgery results to know there had to be a better way, so my goal while training was to develop techniques to do this in as natural looking a manner as possible. Thus my business name Natural Image. Improved but still natural looking. I also studied vein treatments for over a year in Texas with a pre-eminent vein specialist.
You mentioned Cancer Surgery. Is skin cancer a specialty for you?
It certainly is; Southern Californians are sun lovers to the max. The price comes later and sometimes it’s potentially devastating. Carving out skin cancer takes a great amount of skill to get it done right. Minimizing the scars that the removal can create takes even more skill. You have color changes, depressions in the skin, vascular disruption. Without skin grafts and creative scar revision, some people would be too self-conscious to even leave their house! Some of the skin cancers go pretty deep, so you have to plan from the beginning to leave the patient as visually physically unaffected as possible. They’ve already taken a hit by learning they have something scary going on. They don’t need a big scar or disfigurement to remind them the rest of their lives what they’ve gone through. Sharing those anxieties is part of the process.
It sounds like you get very involved with your patients’ emotional experiences.
I do. My patients are more than “patients”…they are people I care about and many of them become friends. Maybe some of that goes back to the integrative teachings I had at Rochester. But I believe its all part of anything you do. Aside from the needs of my medical patients, those who want to look better always have different reasons to seek that out. I try to be friendly with my patients, but I respect their privacy. I love giving hugs to patients because hey, when do any of us get enough of those? And I enjoy it when patients say they feel better because they look better or they aren’t worried about something any longer. Maybe it was as simple as my telling them the mole they were concerned with is just a mole and not something that’s a problem. I also enjoy talking with patients about their lives and what they do. I have a good memory for my patients’ life stories because I find them all uniquely interesting. This relationship keeps my job fulfilling and stimulating. I learn something from everyone who walks in the door. Many of my patients call me Dr. S or Lenore. I don’t require any formalities and neither do my patients. My job is a perfect fit for me.
Tell me a little about your professional involvements.
I am a Fellow of the Laser and Medicine Society, the ASDS, AACS, a member of the Orange County Derm Society . I teach at UCI for the residents in the Dermatology Program. I do skin cancer screenings at Hoag and Mission Hospital. I am a past president of the Orange County Dermatological Society. I give community talks on safety in cosmetic surgery, new developments in cosmetic surgery and dermatology and I donate to various charities from AIDS to children and women’s shelters, CHOC. I love the writing I do for professional journals and providing public education articles. I want everyone to know everything. I wish I could do a lot more but I run out of time and my kids are still young enough that they need a lot of my attention.
What do you do for fun?
I love spending time with my girls and teaching them how to enjoy life and each other, hiking, nature. I enjoy learning new things. Socially, wine tastings and dinner with friends are a lot of fun. Life hasn’t always been perfect, but I do feel very blessed to be doing something I love. I enjoy watching my kids play soccer on Saturdays. We have tea parties and dress up, go shopping, make a mess with cookies in the kitchen. As a family we are learning to surf and ski. I enjoy going to the gym, pilates, yoga, weights, the bike. I have always been athletic…blessed with good eye hand coordination and quick reflexes. When I was a junior in high school, with the prodding of my history teacher, I tried out for the tennis team. I had never played before. Within 3 months, I was the number 1 player on the team and later was ranked in the ETA, Eastern Tennis Assoc. Anyway, I ended up being the number one women’s doubles player and 2nd mixed doubles team. I was ranked in singles also but in the teens instead of the top. I played at the Univ of Pennsylvania, and was captain of the team. It sounds like I’m bragging but really, I’m simply grateful to have found something that swung the pendulum in my life to get me to where I am now. Tennis transformed my life, took me out of Queens, lit my competitive spirit and gave me the feeling I could do anything. Unfortunately, I have had a few injuries and therefore don’t really play tennis anymore. A cervical fusion and an acl repair…not fun!. However, I love all racket sports including ping pong and beach paddle tennis, squash. I’ve recently taken ping pong lessons and when I have more time I would like to pursue competitive ping pong. I’ll probably be the only ping pong playing cosmetic surgeon in California! It’s very fast moving. The strategy of racquet sports is pretty intriguing because there’s a lot of psychology involved. I try not to let someone else’s superior skills intimidate me – but sometimes that happens anyway. When I’m a famous ping pong player you can come back and ask me more about that.
What are your goals?
My goals? I’m pretty holistic. I don’t need a lot of “things” and while making a living is a goal, making a lot of money isn’t the focus. So my goals are to be as compassionate as possible with my family, patients, staff, and friends. To be as good at my job as is humanly possible. To get lucky and always have a patient with melanoma come in early while it’s still curable. To make sure people know how to choose safety first and not take chances just to save $20. Looking better shouldn’t cost you your life, your looks or your health. To keep in shape. To raise my girls to be good people. To be a good person myself.