Dr. Saya: The Skin Doctor Will See You Now

A board-certified Boston-trained dermatologist, Dr. Olubusayo “Saya” Obayan is well-experienced in treating all skin types. She is Austin's first black dermatologist and Skin Joy is the city’s only black-owned dermatology practice.

Graduating cum laude from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Obayan holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology. Subsequently, she earned her medical doctorate and Master’s in Public Health at the Boston University School of Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts.

Following medical school, Dr. Obayan completed an internal medicine internship at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.  She then fulfilled a Dermatology Residency at the Boston University School of Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts.

What motivated you to become a dermatologist?
I knew I wanted to be a doctor since I was about eight years old. While I was in middle school, my mom was a single mom going through residency and raising four kids. She would take us to the hospital with her when she had to work overnight. Due to this experience, I got very comfortable in the hospital setting, and it solidified medicine as my career path.

It wasn’t until medical school when I got involved in community outreach, which included educating communities of color about skin cancer and participating in tanning bed legislation, that I started to consider the field of dermatology. I remember being in my third year of medical school and seeing a Latina patient with a possible melanoma on her foot. Guiding her care and helping her get the resources she needed was an unforgettable experience. After that, dermatology was the only option for me.

I completely fell in love with this city

Why did you choose to establish your practice in Austin? Do you have any other Austin connections?
I have family in Dallas, but when I came to Austin to interview for my first position out of residency, I completely fell in love with this city. The sense of community and willingness to help those in need is very strong here. Over the past three years, I’ve formed strong connections in the community, made lifelong friends, and enjoyed much of the outdoors and activities that Austin has to offer. I can’t imagine living anywhere else, and I am grateful and blessed that my sister has joined me as my office manager here in Austin.

What are some basic day-to-day regimens to promote healthy skin?
The first thing about caring for your skin is leading a healthy, balanced life. Taking care of yourself on the inside really makes a difference on the outside. I recommend a plant-based diet with lots of vegetables and fruit. Foods packed with antioxidants like citrus fruit, pomegranate, dark green vegetables, berries, and dark chocolate not only taste great but are wonderful for the body and skin. Exercise is also excellent for the skin. It pumps it up with blood and nutrients, which keeps the skin looking youthful. Hydrating well is also an important part of health and hydrated skin is less likely to sunburn.

if you have skin, you can get skin cancer

I always recommend using sunscreen daily with an SPF 30 or above. No matter what your skin tone is, if you have skin, you can get skin cancer. There are now sunscreens with antioxidants like green tea, caffeine, and resveratrol (an antioxidant found in the skin of grapes) that are great for protecting skin from sun damage, early wrinkling, and skin cancer. I also recommend using a topical vitamin C and a vitamin A cream (retinoid or retinol) to prevent wrinkling and keep the skin youthful.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a dermatologist?
It truly is a blessing to practice dermatology. One of the most gratifying parts of my job is working with a patient to find a solution to their skin condition that works the best for them. Some patients only want to use holistic treatments like supplements or light therapy or lasers to treat their skin and we work together to heal their skin condition this way. Others want faster results that we can achieve with creams and tablets or chemical peels and cosmetic treatments. The most rewarding part of my job is when my patients return for their follow-up visits happy and smiling because they are better.

Who is your mentor? Do you serve as a mentor to others?
I have been lucky to have several mentors throughout my life. My first mentor is my mother;  her hard work and perseverance showed me that I could achieve any goal. No obstacle is too great.

In medical school, I was very fortunate to have a mentor who was a phenomenal dermatologist and took care of patients with a rare kind of skin cancer. She showed me compassion for patients, how to always have hope, and that laughter truly is the best medicine. Since then, I have been blessed to have many mentors who continue to guide me in my career and in my personal life.

Giving back to the community has been very fulfilling.

I volunteer with Girls Empowerment Network, a wonderful group that creates self-esteem building activities for school-age girls. I also regularly participate in events at University of Texas Austin, Huston Tillotson, and high schools around town, encouraging students to pursue careers in medicine. Giving back to the community has been very fulfilling.

What are your favorite foods, recreational activities, etc.?
One of my favorite parts about Austin is that there’s a lake running right through it! I love kayaking and paddle boarding and taking in the outdoors while on the water. I enjoy hiking and have explored many of the trails in Austin. I’m an adventurous eater and love food from practically all nations. Some of my favorite restaurants are Tony’s Jamaican in East Austin, Wu Chow downtown, South Congress café, and African market Nigerian restaurant on North Lamar. I like to ask my patients what their favorite places to eat are, and I’ve gotten some great recommendations.

Skin Joy Dermatology, open Tues – Fri from 9am – 5:30pm, is located in North Austin at 3303 Northland Dr. in Suite 308. Visit their website or call them at 512-312-7552 to schedule an appointment. 


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