35 Years 35 Machines

December 20, 2019
By: Dr. Van Dyke

Part 1 in a 12 part series on the first 35 years!

I started this practice (VDA) in 1985, on or about January 20th, the day my second son James Michael was born.  They are both millennials :). They both are technology driven. Jim is scary smart and chooses to direct his brilliance towards technology.  VDA has been smart (maybe not as smart as Jim) and definitely drawn to technology.

I bought my first laser in the late 80’s.  It was so cool!  I could take off warts and tattoos magically, like never before. Never mind it left scars, but nobody minded because if you had a tattoo that says Suzy and your wife was Nancy you just wanted that tattoo off!  Remember, this was over 30 years ago, tech was pretty crude. Millennials were in their infancy. Even Jim was drooling back then.

It took another decade before a real advance happened that changed the world for me, and the possibility of cosmetic laser treatments was made real. Laser resurfacing happened, wrinkle removal with energy, no scars, no surgery, what a real miracle! And IPL was invented too. Brown spots and blood vessels and redness, hair and photodamage could all be treated.  There were some issues with healing, but the age of cosmetic dermatology was launched.
The year was 1995. I shut down my general dermatology practice. I bought a laser with a quarter of a million dollars in loans and crossed my fingers.  It was a terrifying decision for me. It felt like jumping off a cliff, I didn’t know if I would crash and burn or land softly.  Jim turned 10 and started to beat me at chess. It was a year of changes, risks and humility. 

And slowly, lasers caught on, patients came in, results were good and advances were made.

For the next 20 years I have stayed ahead of the curve in acquiring cutting edge technology with one or 2 new machines a year. Always seeking the best, never the cheapest.  Always owning my own machines, never renting, why?  I had to have the best quality and the best maintained to ensure the best treatments and outcomes. The state-of-the-art machines were replaced with the newer versions as they became available.

And not to brag too much but after being so involved with tech for so long the best tech companies have from time to time asked me to give them my opinion on  what updates their machines needed, asked me to teach other docs on how to use their technology, sent me all over the world to lecture on technology  and honored me with being a consultant.

After 35 years, the risk has been worth it, jumping off the cliff worked out and I think maybe my even my crazy smart millennial 35-year-old son Jim is sometimes proud of his baby boomer mom.