Working with your mom might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but at Sutton Dermatology + Aesthetics, it’s a happy reality.
Dr. Margaret Kontras Sutton started the practice in 1984. At the end of last year, her longtime partner, Dr. Robyn Ryan, retired. And last September, a new, yet familiar face joined the team — Sutton's 32-year-old daughter, Dr. Leigh Sutton.
"I don't know what to say about it other than it's great,” Margaret Sutton said. “It’s kind of rejuvenated us.”
Her daughter brings a new perspective to the practice.
“She's just newly trained and has a lot of experience with new techniques, new devices, new medications,” Sutton said.
Leigh Sutton has lived away from Lincoln after graduating from Pius X High School. She attended Creighton University, then the University of Nebraska College of Medicine, interned in Denver, had three years of dermatological residency in Texas, then completed a fellowship in the Mohs surgery for skin cancer at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
The Mohs surgery she studied is a method of removing skin cancer under local anesthesia for the most part, which is safer for the patient, Leigh Sutton said. "Patients also have an answer on if their tumor's clear on the same day."
She moved back to Lincoln with her husband, Hastings native Creighton Bassett, to join Sutton Dermatology + Aesthetics.
“We were really looking forward to being close to family, and Lincoln. It was such a positive experience for me growing up in this town,” Leigh Sutton said. “I really admired my mother growing up and I felt that she was able to contribute a lot to the community and her family, and so I wanted to emulate her."
She says the relationship with her mother at work is “very professional” and they consult each other with different treatment options for patients.
“The fact that we're mother-daughter has only accelerated our work relationship since we know each other so well,” she said. “We can start working with 100 percent trust from day one.”
A month after Leigh Sutton came on board, the practice moved out of its building of about 25 years (next to Lincoln Surgical Hospital at 70th and Sumner streets) into a new, expansive building on the corner of 56th Street and Pine Lake Road, at 7100 Stephanie Lane.
"So we had a very eventful year last year," Margaret Sutton said.
When patients walk into the new building, there aren't the standard fluorescent lights, white walls and close seating in a typical waiting room.
Instead, there are high ceilings, natural light, warm colors, wood-patterned porcelain tile and a relaxed, open atmosphere.
The inviting design was something Margaret Sutton had in mind when she began planning for a new building for the practice about four years ago.
She worked with the same Lincoln architect she worked with about 25 years earlier for the former building, Robert Findley of Findley & Associates Architects, along with interior designer Ross Greathouse of Greathouse Associates.
“Every little step that the patient goes through while they're here, we've made an effort to make it pleasant,” she said.
The 18,000-square-foot building has four surgical suites, seven lasers, a sterilization room with a Mohs lab, a sub-waiting room for Mohs patients, a histology lab, employee lounge, office space, wider hallways for wheelchair-bound patients and 14 exam rooms.
“We didn't realize how short on space that we were prior, and now that we're actually here and we can provide these services that we weren't able to do as comfortably,” Sutton said.
Services are two-fold
There’s a staff of about 40 people at Sutton Dermatology + Aesthetics, including six physician’s assistants, licensed practical nurses, front office staff, histology technicians, medical assistants, surgical technicians, medical records specialists and billing and insurance staff.
One provider may see up to 20 patients in a day, and there are about four or five providers working in a given day.
Services are divided between dermatology and aesthetics, as the name indicates. Margaret Sutton says the two-fold services make the Lincoln practice unique.
“We feel that as dermatologists, we are the ones best-suited to handle aesthetics because we know the skin … we've studied the anatomy, we've studied the biochemistry, we've studied function, all different skin colors,” she said. “We're the skin experts.”
If a patient comes in for aesthetic services, such a laser hair reduction, and a provider finds there’s a bad-looking mole, they can be sent across the hall to the dermatological clinic. And vice-versa — if a patient comes in for a bad rash, and are looking for Botox, they would be able to be served in the same building.
“We have the skin covered,” Margaret Sutton said. “We're taking care of babies with birthmarks, we're taking care of children with warts, teenagers with acne, adults with rashes, older adults with skin cancer — it's just a whole range of populations.”
The dermatological services are on the left as you enter the building, and the aesthetic services are on the right.
The aesthetics waiting room has a clean, spa-like feeling to it. It’s quieter, with plants, more natural light, a view to the east of Campbell’s Nursery, and two massage chairs for patients to relax during their wait.
Sutton says about three-quarters of the patients come in for the dermatological services, and one-quarter come in for aesthetic services — which was added to the practice in 2006 and “has consistently grown.”
One aesthetic service is CoolSculpting, a fat-freezing method approved by the Federal Drug Administration in 2010, according to a 2017 New York Times article.
“CoolSculpting has been very positive for us,” Margaret Sutton said.
The service, Sutton says, is painless and noninvasive. Fat cells are selectively targeted and frozen, which permanently removes them because “they explode, essentially.”
The most popular aesthetic service is Botox, Sutton says.
Both Botox and CoolSculpting have no down time — a trend patients seem to prefer.
"People want procedures in which they can resume their activities and their lives, and we are responding to that," she said.
The practice also has a line of skincare products for sale at the new building and online.
Room for growth
When the practice begin in 1984, Margaret Sutton said it maybe had four employees. Some current employees have worked with her for over 25 years.
“The success that we have enjoyed is very strongly because of our team, and not just our dermatologists and PAs but our entire staff of nurses, medical assistants, and our front office personal,” Margaret Sutton said. "I feel that we are a very cohesive team."
A second location at 5000 N. 26th St. opened in 2014, and shares staff with the new building.
Both Dr. Suttons say the future looks bright at Sutton Dermatology + Aesthetics, with another family member who may join a few years down the road.
Dr. Liz Sutton, daughter of Margaret and younger sister to Leigh, is currently in her dermatological residency at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
"We're excited about the future,” Margaret Sutton said. “By having a new building, we have space for a future expansion and future growth.”