2021 Top Doctor: Nancy Kim, M.D. 

Editorial StaffMay 5, 2021
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Photography by Steve Craft
Photography by Steve Craft


Med School/Year Graduated: University of Arizona/2005

Years in Practice: 12

There are a lot of skincare “hacks” circulating around social media lately. What are some of the tools and techniques you swear by, and which ones are totally useless?

Things I swear by: Aquaphor for dry lips and Cetaphil for washing my face, [because] it doesn’t strip the natural oils. [And] Nutrafol for hair loss… [it’s] an over-the-counter supplement which has a number of ingredients including saw palmetto, marine collagen, ashwagandha. Things I don’t necessarily agree with include toners, [which] are alcohol-based and too drying for the skin, botanical products and biotin for hair loss. [It] works if you specifically have a biotin deficiency, but this is pretty rare.

What is a common myth about acne that patients often believe?

It’s a myth that chocolate causes acne. High glycemic index foods, like sweets, breads and pastas, can increase blood cortisol levels and worsen acne. But the problem is not the cocoa, it’s the dairy and sugar that’s added. Dark chocolate with cocoa content 70 percent or higher is [favorable for skin health].

What are the most common issues you treat? Are any “trending” upward?

Full-body skin exams to check for skin cancers, [evaluating] rashes for patients, which is a little bit of detective work, and acne. Lately we’ve been seeing a lot of “maskne” and also hair loss due to COVID-19 and stress.

Can you explain Mohs skin cancer surgery for a layperson?

Mohs surgery is a surgical procedure used to treat skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, in which the surgeon removes the tumor with the smallest possible margin and verifies clearance of the tumor with a microscope on the day of surgery. The cure rate is 99 percent and the surgical scars are minimized since this is a tissue-sparing surgery.

What is the best depiction of your field in TV or film?

So many of my patients have seen Dr. Pimple Popper on TV and I have to admit I was a little resistant to watching it. But when I finally saw some of her videos, I thought, “Wow, she has some good technique!” And I did really appreciate how compassionate she is with her patients.

Do you have any hobbies or interests you pursue in your spare time?

I’ve started taking long walks and hiking this past year, with hats and sunscreen of course. Cooking, crafting with my kids, writing

What are you watching on streaming TV these days?

During COVID, I’ve been really escapist about my streaming TV choices. I just started watching Lupin on Netflix.

“If I wasn’t a doctor, I’d be…”

A journalist or a podcaster. I love history and learning more about other people and cultures. I listen to a ton of podcasts: Fresh Air, How I Built This, The Daily and Armchair Expert.

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