Dr. Lisa Kang is one of those rare souls who is beautiful on the inside and out. We met when I went in to get Botox at Serenity Medspa, a medspa that she founded 10 years ago this month. We started talking about charities and giving back to the community. It was then I knew that Dr. Kang was pretty amazing and would be in my life for a long time. Smart, very accomplished, kind, and giving—are only a few words to describe this gentle powerhouse. She has taken her life as an immigrant child who didn’t speak English and transformed to being one of the most successful medispa surgeons in San Francisco.
At only nine years old, Lisa and her family left South Korea and immigrated to the Bay Area looking for a better life and more opportunities. When she arrived in the US, she didn’t speak any English and it took her a year to learn.
She attended the University of California, Berkeley, as an undergraduate, and earned degrees in both biochemistry and music. She continued her studies at George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. where she received her M.D. degree. Dr. Kang furthered her training at the University of California, Davis where she completed her general surgery residency program.
For several years after her surgical training, Dr. Kang ran a successful private practice in San Francisco with her brother, Dr. David Kang, as a board-certified general surgeon.
In 2006, Dr. Kang and her brother founded Serenity MedSpa. Since then, Dr. Kang has wholly focused her practice on noninvasive and minimally invasive cosmetic procedures for the face and body.
Why did you choose general surgery?
“I actually went to med school thinking I wanted to become a pediatrician as I love kids. However, when I did my surgical rotation, I realized that I really enjoyed operating, working with my hands, seeing immediate result in patients – the ability to fix people problems quickly, and the fast-pace of a surgeon versus more of an office practice as in general pediatrics.”
How do you balance a successful practice and motherhood?
“I started the medspa when I was 2 months pregnant with my first child while still practicing full-time general surgery. People thought I was crazy – my husband asked me why not consider starting the medspa after the pregnancy. However, a great opportunity came up where we can take over an existing medpsa that went bankrupt in less than a year. So the place was all set-up. It was truly a great opportunity as well as a huge risk but I believe in timing and seizing the opportunity when it’s there. For some reason, I just had a strong conviction, intuition – gut feeling, strong desire/passion at that time that this was the “right” decision although all rational reasoning may point otherwise. I didn’t know the “how” or past experience in this field but I trusted myself that I would be able to figure that out as I go. It also was a great help that Dr. David agreed to join the medspa business with me. Looking back, that definitely was one of the turning points and one of the most important decisions that I made in my life.
Then over the next 2 years, I gradually faded out my general surgery practice and decided to work at the medspa full-time. Working as the medspa definitely has given me more control over my time (no emergency calls) and thus allowed me also to have more time with my family. Subsequently, I was able to have my second child (even in my early 40’s) – she is now almost 5 years old. I have been fortunate to have a wonderful nanny who has been with us since my first child was only a few months old…that has been a tremendous help.
I loved being a general surgeon and wasn’t planning on ever quitting general surgery but slowly transitioning my practice to the medspa has allowed me more time to have a family. I am not sure if I would have been able to have a second child if I continued on my path as a general surgeon. At times, life brings you unexpected surprises and opportunity and your choice at that time can definitely lead you to a completely different path than you may have planned originally – I never imaged growing up that I would be doing what I am doing now, although I always thought I would become a doctor but in more traditional sense.”
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
“My dad was a neurosurgeon and growing up and watching him, I always wanted to become and a doctor and knew that I would be one without a doubt. My mom was also a great inspiration to me as she was such a dedicated mom and always encouraged me to shoot for the moon. I still remember what she said to me when I was young: ‘Be the best in everything except for the bad things.’”
What are you most proud of?
“Although I feel I have accomplished a lot in my life, especially as a female, like becoming a general surgeon and taking a huge and bold risk and building a successful medspa, I am most proud of my kids, especially having my second child as that was not easy doing so in my early 40’s. I knew without a doubt I also wanted to have a girl although my husband was content with just our first child. Due to my age, I had to do IVF for 2 years and was finally was able to have our girl, Chloe. I am so happy that I didn’t give up as it was definitely an emotionally and physically challenging period. Now, she brings so much joy to our lives, along with our first child, that I can’t imagine how our family’s lives would be without our little Chloe.”
What advice would you give women about choosing a career path?
Follow your passion and your heart – don’t worry about the how as you will be able to figure that out.
What do you love most about your work?
“I love the immediate results I can create in my patients to make them more youthful and beautiful and seeing how happy that makes them feel. I remember when my son was only like 3 years old and I asked him what his mommy does – at that time, I even pondered what would be the best way to describe what I do – but his answer was perfect. He said, “You make people feel better!” As I get older, I understand what it feels to see in the mirror and seeing your youthful face and body diminish, especially when I still feel so young inside – I still think I am in my 30’s. :) And, I think it’s ultimately about that – making people feel better and more confident about themselves and adding more value into people’s lives and making a difference.”
What do you do on your free time?
“Before I had the kids, I used to play a lot of golf with my husband and travel. But, as kids came along, they have kept us busy. We still love to travel and whenever we can we take the kids and go on vacations – Jonathan and Chloe have already been to many different countries. I also read about the latest and the greatest new treatments in aesthetics as it is such a rapidly evolving field. I also enjoy reading, listening and learning from inspirational teachers, spiritual leaders and great minds. I feel in the last couple years I have grown a lot as a person as I worked more on myself. But, I must say, I do enjoy just relaxing and watching my Korean drama when I have the time!”
CONGRATULATIONS! YOUR MEDSPA IS CELEBRATING 10 YEARS!
What treatment do you think all women should get? Why?
“I believe prevention and early intervention is the key to maintaining your youth. If you wait too long and have a lot of damage to your face and body, there is only so much you can do to reverse the damage, especially with noninvasive treatments. Botox is great because as of now, there is no treatment that does as good of a job in preventing and giving such a great and quick result for the forehead and frown lines and the crow’s feet. Also, as women start to age, they lose volume on their face and the skin starts to sag, changing the shape of their face from a youthful “V” shape to a square. Among the 4 different things you can change on a woman’s face (shape, texture, color, size), shape contributes most to attractiveness and beauty. (then texture, then color, then size). That’s why I love fillers, especially the new Juvederm Voluma that gives not only volume but also a lot of lifting of the loose skin to restore a more youthful shape. Now, I am excited about our new PDO Thread Lift that does a fabulous job of instantly lifting up the loose skin especially in the jowls and the neck, again creating that beautiful, youthful “V” shape. Then, women can improve the texture and the color of the face by some sort of skin resurfacing treatment. I love our new Vampire Facial® which makes your skin smooth, pores tight, improves fine lines and give your skin that youthful glow and brightness.”
What are the newest treatments that you are excited about?
“Aside from the ones I mentioned already, the Vampire Facial and the PDO threadlift, I love the CoolSculpting body contouring treatment. For a noninvasive, minimal to zero downtime, I am finally able to get rid of my stubborn post-baby stomach fat. I also feel the new ThermiVa feminine rejuvenation treatment is going to be a game changer. Although it’s not something we talk about a lot, as women get older and especially after having kids, things change down there. ThermiVa is awesome because it gives such great results and the treatment is so quick and painless with no downtime. I will soon be adding on the O-shot ® (orgasm shot), which will empower women even more that suffer from sexual dysfunction and stress urinary incontinence. As many as 40% of women (50 million women) in the USA can benefit from this treatment.
Other great new treatments are the Kybella, which is a quick injection to permanently get rid of double chin, miraDry to permanently reduce 80% of underarm sweating, odor and hair with just one treatment and the A-Cell + PRP Hair Regrowth treatment to significantly improve women and men with thinning hair with just a quick injection treatment.
We are definitely excited to be celebrating on 10th anniversary and introducing all these great new treatments to our clients that are noninvasive, quick and effective that gives excellent results.”
What is your favorite treatment?
“One of my favorite treatments is doing the filler, Juvederm Voluma, as it instantly makes a woman more youthful but in a natural way and there is definitely an art to doing the fillers well. I love using my technical skills as well as my aesthetic eye to create the most beautiful and youthful face for women and since every face is different, it’s never the same for anyone and knowing how to individualize the treatment to bring out the most beautiful shape in each women is what I feel separates the good injector from the exceptional ones. I love getting the “Wow!” from the client as I show them their instant result when I hand them the mirror–it’s very gratifying. I am also loving the PDO tread lift, especially to address the lower 1/3 of the face and the neck. I am very excited to combine the benefits of the fillers along with the PDO thread lift to give that volume and lift – and short of a face and neck lift – I feel this is as good as it gets with a quick noninvasive treatment and I can’t wait for patient now to get the “Wow! Wow!” effect. And, when you add the Vampire Facial® to improve the skin texture and color and difficult to treat areas like the sunkenness under the eyes and the fine lines around the mouth, you have a pretty comprehensive facial rejuvenation – taking 10 years off won’t be difficult – now I will shoot for 20 years– But all in a natural way – as that is what I feel patients fear the most – that they will look different and people will notice that they “did” something…but all these treatments gives such great visible results yet at the same time create a natural look by restoring how the face was when we were younger… so people look better but most people won’t know exactly what they did.”
On Giving Back
In 2014 Lisa began a powerful personal journey, which included giving back as well and personal development.
“Despite many years of schooling and training I never learned about the importance of personal development and working on improving yourself. In 2014, I attended many classes and seminars on personal development and it has been a continuous journey for me since then. It was then that I made a commitment to get involved with causes that focused on supporting others, healing those in need, and giving back to the community. It was then that I co-chaired Rooms That Rock 4 Chemo’s first fundraiser. Being so active in Rooms That Rock was of one of the “big” goals I set for myself. It was an awesome learning and eye-opening experience. I never co-chaired an event before and just went for it! The power of belief was huge.”
Dr. Lisa Kang has helped to raise thousands of dollars for local charities:
If you would like to meet Dr. Lisa Kang or have a consultation with her, contact Serenity Medspa.
Address: 2nd Floor, 126 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94108