AAD (American Academy of Dermatology), Broward County Dermatologic Society
Memorial Regional Hospital, Hollywood Medical Center, Jackson Memorial Hospital
Dr. Norman Minars: 35 Years of Dermatology
This year, Dr. Norman Minars MD celebrates 35 years of serving Hollywood. The man behind the success of Minars Dermatology, Dr. Minars did not always know he was destined for a career in this branch of specialized medicine. As we celebrate the past 35 years as a doctor, we look back at how he made his way…
Norman Minars grew up in Queens, New York. When he was a young man, it was his family’s intention that he enter the family business. His father had started a mattress manufacturing company with his brothers. They opened a factory after World War II in Spanish Harlem in New York City. Norman remembers driving in the car as a child with his father, “If we passed an old mattress that someone had put out on the curb, my father would put it in the car, bring it to the factory to recondition and later sell it.” But Dr. Minars, as he is called now, had other plans.
“I never had any desire to make beds,” admits Dr. Minars, who was born in 1946. “I wanted to be a vet. So I spent some time on a farm, which was a pre-requisite for vet school, but I found I had too many allergies. I kept sneezing and wheezing because of all the plants and trees, so I gave it up.”
Undeterred and still eager to continue with his love of medicine, Dr. Minars decided to become a medical doctor. He began George Washington Medical School in 1967, and after completing the basics began his medical rotation, still unsure which specialty interested him the most. Then he met a mentor of sorts, Dr. George Elgart, who would pull him aside in the hospital wards to show him interesting dermatology cases. “From then on, I was hooked.”
Starting His Own Practice
Dr. Minars graduated from medical school, did a year-long internship at UCLA, then spent three years studying dermatology at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond. He started his own practice in Hollywood on Washington Street in June, 1975, with just one secretary to help.
His first week open he saw 25 total patients (he now sees 25 per day)
A new patient visit that week cost $25 (now it costs $150)
Everyone paid cash at that time (it was rare to have medical insurance)
Originally, his interest was skin cancer surgery, and he has literally thousands of photos of operations that he performed. In fact, he had always loved surgery, photography, and animals. After he set up his own practice in dermatology, the veterinarian in him continued his hobby of raising guinea pigs, and once he even carried out an operation on a female guinea that was late giving birth.
“I had to do an operation in the office to try and save the guinea pig and her litter, with the vet talking me through it all on the phone,” Dr. Minars recalls. “I did a caesarean but the babies were already dead.”
Guinea pigs were not his only pets. His son, Dr. Todd Minars, remembers rabbits on the porch, a cockatoo in the kitchen, and dogs, fish, and cats. Dr. Minars was not just an amateur vet, but also an amateur botanist. At any given time he was growing a variety of plants on the porch using a UV light in a makeshift greenhouse of sorts.
Dr. Minars also fancies himself an amateur baker (very amateur), and probably his longest hobby to date, and one that comes in handy with such a visual specialty as dermatology, is photography. He takes pictures of everything. He has been photographing skin since his residency and some of these pictures are now posted as part of a dermatology web atlas on Dermatology Atlas.
The Photographer becomes a Technophile:
In September of 1980, a few years after opening the Washington Street practice, Dr. Minars moved into his current location on Sheridan Street, which would help him to better accommodate his growing number of patients.
Although Dr. Minars had set up shop with only one secretary, the need for additional help was recognized once his practice had begun to grow, which it did in leaps and bounds. For the next 20 years, Minars Dermatology operated with one doctor, two full-time employees and one part-time employee.
In the late 1980s the personal computer was invented and Dr. Minars was, as usual, an early adopter.
His first real computer was the Apple II (it had a green screen, floppy disks, and no hard drive). Undeterred by the primitive technology, Dr. Minars was on the internet before Google or AOL or even internet browsers. He used Compuserve to get on the net when it was just bulletin boards.
By 1992, Dr. Minars had installed computers in his office, replacing the way he kept patient accounts. Before the computer, everything was written down on paper ledgers, and staff relied on electric typewriters to record important information. After computers were installed, he continued to write notes in patient charts by hand, but eventually they get transferred to the computer for safe-keeping.
Interestingly, he began constructing his first practice website at www.MinarsDermatology.com way back in 1997 – the year that the founders of “Google” found a name for their new search engine.
A Laser Guru:
Always one to keep up with the latest advances in technology, Dr. Minars sought to update his office in other ways. He started using lasers as soon as they were introduced in dermatology – initially, he rented one every few weeks, as needed until he bought his first laser in 2000.
It’s not surprising that today, Dr. Minars has more experience with lasers than most dermatologists.
His most recent interest is the fractional CO2 technology, a type of laser he has been using ever since it was first introduced. He has treated hundreds of patients with several different brands and versions of these lasers, and has completed a research study examining the different effects that different laser parameters have on the skin, as well as the differences between the various brands of the fractional CO2 laser.
“It’s hard to imagine how we managed to get by without lasers,” Dr Minars says.
Like Father, Like Son
In 2002 Dr. Minars’ son, Todd Minars, MD joined the practice as the second dermatologist.
Since then, Dr. Lesley Clark-Loeser, a childhood friend of Dr. Todd Minars, has also joined the practice, bringing her expertise in pigmented lesions and melanoma. Marianna Blyumin-Karasik, MD, the fourth doctor, joined in 2009. Not only have more doctors joined the practice, but the staff has grown as well. There are currently 11 staff members assisting the many patients that are seen in the office daily.
Dr. Minars “right hand”:
For many years, you could hear someone yelling “Jean!” about every five minutes down the halls of Minars Dermatology. Jean Condina was hired as a secretary in 1979. She stayed with Minars Dermatology for over 27 years, eventually becoming office manager. She did everything from assisting in surgery, to doing most of the hiring and firing and managing the books.
Jean knew all of the patients and they all knew her. She had an amazing spirit, and was liked by everyone. She was an important part of Dr. Minars’ success and worked, even through illness, until she passed away in 2007.
For the last few years of her life, Jean had the pleasure to hire and work with her daughter Carol, who is now the present office manager at Minars Dermatology (if you don’t know who she is, she is the tall blonde who talks a lot!).
Carol and Jean
Come a Long Way
As Minars Dermatology begins to look toward the future, Dr. Minars also takes a look back at the past. “In the beginning, dermatology was purely medical; it was all about rashes and acne,” he says.
“Now it has evolved into surgical procedures, cosmetic treatments for wrinkles and fine lines, and laser treatments for all sorts of imperfections and conditions, both medical and cosmetic.”
“New drugs are available that we never had before for psoriasis, for example, and we have much better and more effective drugs for other conditions as well.”
*In the 1970s, the only cosmetic filler available was collagen (brand name: Zyderm). As the collagen was bovine-sourced (made from cows), patients would need to do a skin test, then come back two days later for the treatment, which lasted only three months!
*In the 1980s, AIDS was an important issue, as was the diagnosis and treatment of Kaposi’s Sarcoma (purple plaques on the skin), which was an AIDS-defining illness then.
*Accutane also became available in 1982, a powerful drug used to treat acne. Before Accutane we used antibiotics such as tetracycline and clindamycin.
*Botox became available in 2000.
*In 2003, the dermal filler Restylane came out and collagen quickly became irrelevant.
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