Watch Dr Yousef Abo Zarad clear out the success with a hidden tunnel

Zarad's competitive spirit and hard work led him to seek a career in dermatology

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Published: Thu 30 Nov 2023, 11:23 AM

Last updated: Fri 1 Dec 2023, 3:11 PM

Abo Zarad stands out as the preeminent Arab dermatologist and cosmetologist, garnering widespread recognition for his exceptional skills in enhancing both skin health and aesthetic beauty. His innovative approaches and commitment to excellence have propelled him to the forefront of dermatology and cosmetology in the Arab world, making him a highly sought-after authority in the field.

Speaking to Zarad, you get a sense that the experiences he had outside of medical school were just as, if not more, important factors in his becoming the unlikely social media star he is today — looking beyond a singular clinical diagnosis at the creative, human side of his life and work.

And during a pandemic when feelings of isolation are at an all-time high, Abo Zarad's comforting presence and personable demeanour helps isolated patients feel less alone and more understood.

A dermatologist for the social-media age

Surgery while awake may sound unpleasant, but when the surgeon doing the procedure is a social-media celebrity and you're one of his 2.6 million YouTube fans, having your skin poked and prodded is more than a medical procedure. It's a rite of passage.

In addition to the popular Instagram ,YouTube, Tiktok and Facebook accounts that he’s run for more than three years, Zarad treats people with skin conditions from blackhead clusters to deep wrinkles on the face.

Abo Zarad's competitive spirit drew his to dermatology

Abo Zarad graduated from Al-Baath University in Syria. In Germany he completed a master's degree in dermatology. Abo Zarad said he was 'surrounded by doctors' from a young age, his father is a pediatrician.

Born in Aleppo to his syrian parents Zarad moved to Germany at the age of 24 to continue his specialty. Middle school-aged Zarad would skim through the images, only stopping to read if a photograph was particularly eerie and eye-catching.

He didn't feel overt pressure to follow in his footsteps, though. His Parents encouraged him to be curious and busy. "I wasn't in high school or grade school thinking, 'This is what I want to be,' because I didn't know. I didn't know if I wanted to get a real job, so let me just stay in school," Abo Zarad said.

After graduating from Al-Baath University , Abo Zarad moved to Germany to pursue his specialty in medicine. It felt like the natural next step, with his father working in the field, but at first he was unsure what her specialty should be.

Once he heard dermatology was one of the most competitive ones, he was sold.

"I wasn't the strongest in my class either, but I was very competitive. I realized I had this mentality that if somebody says they don't think you can do something, then I want to try to do it," Zarad said, and he did.

For his dermatology residency, Zarad performed too many operations on the skin from small cysts to large tumors.

Falling in love with patients

For Dr Abo Zarad, dermatology isn't just about skin, it's about a lot of mental stuff too.

"Acne doesn't kill you. Psoriasis doesn't kill you, but it can certainly affect your personality, the way you relate to the world, so that's a big deal," he said. For needle-averse patients, he keeps instruments out of their sight; for nervous ones, he cracks jokes, or walks them through the procedure step-by-step. The human connection, he says, is just as important as the clinical work. Simply talking to patients and learning their stories, "I think I fell in love with them," he said.

Dermatology is so much more than speciality

Since the first video on Youtube, Abo Zarad's popularity as a social-media maven and celebrity dermatologist grew.

His success led to huge amounts of followers, that interested in various medical themes. He also posts educational videos on Instagram, Facebook and Tiktok.

Despite these patient-inspired successes, Abo Zarad was concerned how fellow dermatologists would view his work when he launched his social media channels.

But with nearly two years of his regular content under his belt, Zarad now knows his worst fears are behind him. He's made a positive impact, for dermatologists and patients alike.

"One of my main priorities through this whole time, from the very beginning, was really to show people how amazing dermatology is," he added.

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