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Q&A with Ruth Arumala, DO, Cosmetic Surgery

Last Updated on August 21, 2022 by Laura Turner

Ruth Arumala, DO, MPH, FACOG, NCMP, is a fellow completing an American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery (AACS) Certified Facial & General Cosmetic Surgery training in Bellevue, WA. Before her fellowship, Dr. Arumala practiced as a board-certified OB-GYN, reproductive surgeon, and menopause specialist in solo private practice in Mansfield, Texas. In addition to clinical and surgical duties, she served as an Assistant Professor of OB-GYN at Texas Christian University School of Medicine, Fort Worth, TX, on the medical board at Texas Health Mansfield, as a speaker for Myovant Pharmaceuticals, and as a health consultant for two companies, Flo Health and Honey Pot. Dr. Arumala is passionate about increasing health literacy using social media platforms and improving the medical education experience. Dr. Ruth Arumala will return to the Dallas-Fort Worth area to join one of her mentors in a private aesthetic and gynecology practice after her cosmetic surgery fellowship.

When did you decide to pursue becoming a physician?

As a high school and college student, I always had a proclivity for science-based topics, particularly the human body. I was fascinated by the human body and its interaction with the environment. Early on, however, despite a stellar academic record, I was dissuaded from applying to medical school by listening to an ill-advised counselor. Instead, my immediate post-collegiate endeavor was a Master of Public Health degree. During my studies, I found myself wanting to understand more depth and breadth of the diseases we discussed. I fought self-doubt and applied to medical school. As they say, the rest is history.

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Did you have any healthcare role models growing up? How did this individual impact your pursuit of/passion for healthcare? 

I grew up with a mother who became a physician prior to my birth. After practicing for a number of years in Nigeria, my family relocated to the United States. My mom tenaciously pursued restoring her career in the United States. This included her taking her board exams and attending a residency at age 51 and fellowship at age 54. Watching how diligently she went after the goal of practicing medicine intrigued and inspired me. Consequently, I explored the career for myself.

What did your path to becoming a healthcare professional look like?

After graduating high school as valedictorian, I received the prestigious Banneker/Key Full Scholarship and Gemstone Honors Program at the University of Maryland. There, I earned a double degree in Cellular/Molecular Biology & Genetics and Psychology. As I alluded to earlier, I attended Mercer University School of Medicine where I obtained a Master of Public Health degree, followed by Rowan University School of Medicine, New Jersey, on an academic scholarship, where I completed my Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree. In between my third and fourth year of medical school, my brother, Samuel Arumala, passed away. During the bereavement period, I took time off and participated in a year-long research fellowship in Gabarone, Botswana via the University of Pennsylvania – Botswana University Partnership. My projects focused on telemedicine and teledermatology.

What is Cosmetic Surgery and why did you choose it as a specialty?

Surprisingly, I discovered the unique multidisciplinary cosmetic surgery specialty when I became an OB-GYN attending physician. I was introduced to the field by a cosmetic surgery platform representative. He connected me with two board-certified OB-GYNs who were fellowship-trained, and board certified in cosmetic surgery.

Cosmetic surgery is a medical and surgical discipline that focuses on enhancing a patient’s appearance using innovative but safe techniques. As a gynecologist, many of my patients inquired about cosmetic procedures that I was not trained in residency to perform. My goal of incorporating beauty in my women’s health and wellness practice will be actualized by pursuing a career in cosmetic surgery.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to pursue a career in Cosmetic surgery?

To understand the scope of cosmetic surgery, you will need to see a cosmetic surgeon in action. Unfortunately, that may be difficult given the imbalance between interest in the field and surgeons that facilitate shadowing opportunities. I encourage you to be patient and persistent while seeking shadowing and mentoring opportunities.

Given that the AACS cosmetic surgery training is a post-residency fellowship, pay attention to and learn your primary specialty extremely well. Your clinical and surgical skills will help form your cosmetic surgery practice.

If available, take courses in business and practice management. Cosmetic surgery practices are largely private practices. Learning how to manage a private practice will be a huge advantage when running your practice.

Lastly, be persistent and patient. It takes time and a great deal of effort to learn surgery well. Cosmetic surgery is an intersection of art and medicine. It takes some time to develop stellar skills and artistry while keeping patients safe.

What does your typical day look like?

My fellowship schedule includes primarily surgery days, but I do have clinic days. In a facial and general cosmetic surgery fellowship you can have a morning case that involves an upper and lower blepharoplasty (eyelid rejuvenation) and facelift and then an afternoon case that is a “mommy makeover” which may consist of liposuction of multiple areas, Lipoabdominoplasty (tummy tuck) and mastopexy- augmentation (breast lift) or transfer of fat to the glutes (BBL). In between cases, there may be some clinic patients that are pre- or post-op or desire injectables. On clinic days, there is a mix of consultations, follow-ups, lasers, and injectables.

In my fellowship, the fellows are seamlessly integrated into each patient encounter and play key roles in their care. This provides a robust hands-on learning environment under the guidance of our attendings and in collaboration with other fellows.

What is one thing you discovered during your fellowship that you didn’t know before?

As a practicing OB-GYN, I operated on larger areas of the body using different technological modalities including the robot, laparoscopy, and hysteroscopy. During my cosmetic surgery fellowship, I recognize that the surgery is more refined and requires an artistic style. While I initially found the difference a challenge, I am now thoroughly enjoying surgeries and find the results rewarding.

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