I had the great opportunity to interview Debra Wattenberg, MD, a top New York City dermatologist, wife and mother of 3, and Director of Scientific Affairs for The Oxalosis & Hyperoxaluria Foundation, for the first of Glamamom's Moms Who Rock feature.
Dr. Wattenberg makes regular appearances on The Today Show, CNN, LX New York and The Mike and Juliet Show and her magazine and newspaper credits include: Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Oprah, Cosmopolitan, Teen, Glamour, W Magazine, Woman’s Day, Allure, New Woman, Men’s Health and The Daily News.
(1) Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with Glamamom. I think readers will be very interested in gaining insight from such an accomplished woman as you, especially your take on maintaining a work/life balance. Some days, I forget to feed the dog. How do you balance it all and still make time for yourself?
Being organized is the key to getting everything done. Organization is crucial. I don't leave anything for tomorrow that I can do today. I also multi-task all day long. I make appointments for the kids between patients, I eat while opening the mail. I return all calls immediately so that nothing piles up. In addition, I think it's key to have a very supportive husband who participates in raising the children. That's probably the biggest asset.
(2) What about motherhood surprised you most?
I am always surprised at how much fun I have spending time with my children. All 3 of my kids are interesting to be with and I love watching each of them develop into adults. Each stage of life brings new and exciting challenges but also such interesting and fun times. I am also surprised at how often I sound like my own mother. I catch myself and laugh!
(3) You manage a successful medical dermatology practice, skincareRX. Skin care and anti-aging are super hot topics right now. In a society obsessed with youth, what’s your stance on anti-aging cosmetic procedures?
A good skincare routine should start young and then be adjusted as you age. I am a big fan of anti-aging cosmetic procedures. Not all procedures are for everyone so it's really important to see a professional that can discuss your issues and determine the best procedure for your skin. Chemical peels, Botox, Restylane and Juviderm are all great procedures but they are not for everyone and they will not correct every skin issue.
(4) What’s your most important skincare tip?
Wear sunscreen every day.
(5) If you walked into a pharmacy with only $5, what personal care item would you buy?
Cetaphil cleansing lotion or Aquaphor healing ointment. Cetaphil is a great cleansing moisturizing product that can also remove makeup. Aquaphor can be used as a moisturizer as well as a lip balm and can be put on cuts and scrapes.
(6) Was it always your dream to be a doctor? Why dermatology?
Yes, I always wanted to be a physician. My grandmother was sick when I was growing up and I was inspired to become a doctor back then. I chose dermatology because it allowed me to work with people of all ages and combine medicine and surgery. I really enjoy performing minor surgical procedures as well as diagnosing medical issues by looking at the skin.
(7) What is the genesis of The Oxalosis & Hyperoxaluria Foundation and what has been the most rewarding experience from your affiliation?
My son was born with a rare genetic kidney and liver disease. He is missing an enzyme in his liver that allows the kidney to breakdown calcium and oxalate. As a result, he develops kidney stones and has recurrent kidney issues.
My husband and I become very involved with the organization when our son was diagnosed. Since then, we have helped to raise money and awareness for the disease and the organization funds the majority of research for the disease. Helping the families of children with the disease to understand that they are not alone is the most rewarding part of being a part of the OHF family. It is very scary to have your child diagnosed with anything but a rare disease can be so much more frightening because no one has ever heard of it. We try to help the families understand and take control.
(8) What are the 3 most important values that you hope to instill in your children?
Honesty, integrity, and compassion.
(9) What’s on your "Bucket List" / what are your future goals?
I would like to travel more, specifically in Africa, Asia, and India; become fluent in a foreign language; write a book; and host my own TV program.
(10) What's your favorite place to eat in NYC?