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Dr. Sarah Boyce Sawyer, a board-certified, fellowship-trained dermatologist, knows first-hand that the market for aesthetic medical procedures is booming, has been soaring for years, and likely won’t be slowing down anytime soon. Dr. Sawyer has been the top injector of Botox and soft tissue filler in Alabama since 2009 and oversees the most extensive collection of laser devices in the state. But when she founded Dermatology & Laser of Alabama in 2007, her goal wasn’t to cash in on a trend. Her aim is to help her patients navigate all the options available and make the right choices for them. 

A native of Sikeston, Missouri, Sarah made her way to Birmingham for medical school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and fell in love with the city. Birmingham has served her well, offering the perfect place to not only build a business but raise a family too. We chat with Sarah to find out how she helps her patients be the best version of themselves. Please welcome this week’s FACE of Birmingham, Dr. Sarah Boyce Sawyer.

Dr. Sarah Sawyer of Dermatology & Laser of Alabama

Meet our newest FACE of Birmingham, Dr. Sarah Sawyer of Dermatology & Laser of Alabama. Image: Daley Snell

There are so many options in the aesthetic medical market these days. How do you help patients navigate these options?

The first thing that we do is listen and find out what questions the patients have. Patients often come in after seeing something in the news, and they have questions about it. They want to know, “Does this really work?” and “How much does it cost?” So, we first listen. We also listen to patients’ desires. A lot of them do not want to look 20. A lot of them just want to look good for their age.

The internet is saturated with skincare information. What do you do if a patient comes in with concerns based on something they’ve found online?

We all go to the internet for information. Often, if somebody brings something up, we look it up together. If I haven’t heard of something, I try to make sense of what is in print and talk through it based on what I’ve learned and what I know in my experience. But then, a lot of times, I have to debunk something they’ve heard.

For example, Linda Evangelista’s information about CoolSculpting has torn like wildfire through the media. We have two CoolSculpting machines here at the office, so we’ve gotten a lot of questions about that. It’s very common for us to be talking about the truths and the fallacies on the internet. And if it’s some miraculous promise, we have to debunk that too because there aren’t many miracles in non-invasive treatments.

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What would you say to women interested in the procedures you offer but are nervous about the process?

The first thing I like to do is make them feel comfortable and know they’re in charge of what happens. I ask questions about why they’re nervous, and then I try to give information in a way that does not feel pushy. I can’t stand a pushy sales pitch myself, and I certainly don’t use that tactic in my office. It’s important for me to let them know there is no timeline for this. There’s no timeline for an elective procedure — it’s elective, which means they get to choose if and when they do the procedure.

Dr. Sawyer helping patient

“The emotional support that we give to people is just as important as what we do for their faces or bodies,” Dr. Sarah Sawyer says. Image: Jacob Blankenship

We know each person has unique skincare needs, but do you have any top skincare tips that apply to everyone?

I think the importance of wearing sunscreen is pretty obvious, but if you have sensitive skin, the physical sunblock ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide tend to work better and cause the least inflammation. Also, we recommend the physical blocks for anyone who has had skin cancer because they work better than the chemical blocks.

I also recommend vitamin C in the morning because the better brands will protect the skin much more than sunscreen alone.

The other thing that’s been hot in my world in the last year is collagen powder. There is not a specific one yet that we know works better than another, but we do know that the collagen powders that everybody started taking a few years ago benefit the skin in terms of aging.

I’m also board certified in integrative medicine, so there are a couple of supplements that I really like. Fish oil is great for the skin. If someone uses their sunscreen and sun protection a lot, they may be low in Vitamin D. For those patients, I recommend supplementing Vitamin D3. And any anti-inflammatory supplement like ginger, turmeric, or adding cinnamon to food is helpful against aging.

It’s not just [about] the stuff we put on, but the stuff we take in.

What do you like to do for fun when you’re not working?

I have a family, and I enjoy my time with them. Our favorite thing to do as a family is to go out West. My family snowboards, and I ski. We also wake surf in the summer at Lake Martin. Those are my two favorite pastimes when I’m not at work. And I’m learning how to paint.

Dr. Sawyer holding box of botox

What are three things Dr. Sarah Sawyer can’t live without? Coffee, music, and Botox! Image: Jacob Blankenship

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What’s the best advice you’ve received or the best advice you have to offer?

My favorite quote is, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”

How do you apply that to your work?

We’re a medical practice, but we’re also in the customer service business. I’m a dermatologist, but a lot of patients bring in social issues with them. Many of them are going through hard times like a divorce or job change. And we’ve got a lot of moms who are exhausted from the pandemic who come in here. Since the pandemic, we have felt that the emotional support we give to people is just as important as what we do for their faces or bodies.

Name three things you can’t live without.

Coffee, music, and Botox, of course!

Thank you, Dr. Sawyer!

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Meet more inspiring Birmingham women by visiting our FACES archives!

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