Dr. Christine Ibrahim is a board-certified physician who specializes in dermatology and non-surgical cosmetic procedures. She completed her medical degree at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and did her residency training at USC California Hospital Medical Center. Before starting her practice in 2005, she worked in downtown and South Central in women’s health and prenatal care. “I feel like it humbled me in so many ways,” she says. “And it taught me how to interact with all kinds of patients.” To this day, Dr. Christine continues to help underserved patients, volunteering both dermatological and general medicine services at a free clinic once a month.
Though Dr. Christine always wanted to be a doctor (“since I was seven-years-old”), it was only later in life that she chose to specialize in dermatology. During her mid- to late-20’s, she started experiencing adult acne and saw several dermatologists without resolution. The whole ordeal was frustrating, she says, because not only was her acne not improving, but the doctors were only giving her a few minutes of their time. “It shouldn’t be like this,” she says. “I know you see 25 to 30 patients a day, but my issues are just as concerning as everybody else’s and you need to take the time to figure this out and not just write me a prescription.”
Her frustrations led her to become more interested in dermatology and also more aware of how she would treat her future patients. She wouldn’t rush them, she decided, nor would she relegate certain issues as being less important than others. “A lot of the feedback I get from my patients is that [seeing me] is like a therapy session,” she says. “It’s about building relationships. I take my time. I listen to them.”
Her interest in non-surgical cosmetic procedures is another anomaly in the world of dermatology, as most dermatologists don’t venture into that sector. This was especially the case when she was doing her training and residency. “I basically created my own niche of what I wanted my specialty to be,” she says, adding that she worked with doctors and did preceptorships to gain more training in this specialized field.
In the 10 years that Dr. Christine has had her practice, she’s “never stopped learning” and she continues to pioneer new advances in skincare and beauty regimens. “My goal is to make women look their best,” she says, “without having to go under the knife.” For instance, she champions the “liquid face lift,” which involves using products and fillers to give the patient a younger look without having surgery. She is also a strong proponent of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT), which is taking a more in depth approach into the patient’s symptoms and correlating their symptoms with specific blood panels that allow her to get to the root of the problem. “I don’t treat the lab results; I treat the patient’s symptoms. I’m helping my patients feel just as good on the inside as they look on the outside,” she says.
Though her goal is always to make her patients look better, Dr. Christine is a firm believer in helping women embrace their own beauty. In fact, one of the most common things patients say about her is that she talks them out of getting procedures more often than she talks them into getting them. “I’m not trying to have all my patients look the same,” she says. “I want them to look better and feel better without changing who they are.”
In addition to her practice, Dr. Christine trains doctors in cosmetic medicine and is a teaching doctor for residents at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. She is also heavily involved in charity work for nonprofits and other organizations, and every year, she organizes donation drives or fundraisers for a specific charity, such as Alexandria House, Covenant House, Mudderella, and Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA). In 2012, she raised $4,000 and spent two and a half weeks in Ethiopia, procuring medicine and volunteering her services at orphanages and assisted living homes.
While giving back is important to Dr. Christine, it is interacting with and listening to people that she deems most important. “It’s about much more than just writing a prescription and keeping my fingers crossed,” she says. “People trust me because they know that I will listen to them and always get to the root of the problem.”
— by: Jessie Schiewe