What motivates someone wanting to become their own boss? Well, what if you discovered you were being paid 6 figures LESS a year than your less experienced counterparts? That’s exactly what happened with Dr. Lanna Cheuck, a board certified urological surgeon.
But now she has the last laugh launching 3 successful ventures, acting as the CEO of Lanna Aesthetics, the CEO of FACE Training Center, and the CEO of FACE Med Store. You will discover how she grew her med spa during the pandemic., as well as launched a company training other physicians on procedures to help grow their aesthetic practice, all while taking care of a child with special needs.
Become inspired on how she overcame an unfair gender pay gap, to now owning and operating multiple 7 figure businesses!
Dr. Lanna Cheuck’s LinkTree
Dr. Mike: Hey guys, this is Dr. Mike. Woo-Ming! Welcome to another edition of Bootstrap MD. Recently, I have been interviewing a lot of the med spa owners, the influencers in this industry. And even if you’re not in this industry, maybe you’re looking into private practice or setting up doing cash based practice.
What I’ve been hearing from my listeners is that really getting a lot out of it. And I think this interview you could definitely will benefit as well. I’ve known her off and on for the last few years we’ve texted, but this is the first time I’m actually gonna be meaning her face to face.
She currently owns and operates LC Medical, which is her own med spa located in the heart of Midtown Manhattan. She runs face med spa training in her Manhattan location for professionals, medical professionals who wanna learn more. Facial aesthetic injections. She’s a co-founder of Face Medical Supply, which is an online medical store, specializing in distribution of select equipment and supplies for medical facilities.
I know I’ve ordered from them. She produces content through various online platforms, YouTube and Instagram. She’s a board certified uro urologic surgeon, fellow of the American college of surgeon with a holistic approach whose principles intertwined with the body healing itself. She’s affiliated with NYC health and the hospital system.
She’s got a lot of academics, a lot of credentials, but what I’ve known, just been texting he’s really cool. And I wanted to get her insight about this kind of crazy world about the medical spot industry so Lanna, thank you for joining us on the call
Lanna Cheuck: Absolutely. Mike, I’m so excited to meet you, like you said, face to face virtually because we’ve known of each other and you always have these great business pearls. And we have this big Facebook group, for physicians that are interested in aesthetics. So it’s really nice to see your face and be on your podcast.
Dr. Mike: Yeah. I really enjoy enjoyed that Facebook group. And it’s also good to vent sometimes when you’re dealing with that one patient or just to get some some inspiration about what are some things that we could do, different treatments that we perform, et cetera. So let’s talk about your journey. You went to medical school and you graduated as a urologic surgeon. Yeah. Did you start off saying this is the route you wanna go to? How did it all work for
Lanna Cheuck: yeah, so great question. So I. Always wanna be a urologic surgeon. And I went to med school to become a urologist and not a lot of people, know about your, what urology is, but I was exposed to it early on.
And so I said, you know what, this is what I wanna do. It’s super cool. We’re able to diagnose all of these cancers and all these scopes and then robotics came about. S, it’s like, cutting edge technology. And and that’s what I wanted to do. I went to I’m a do I went to school at NYCOM, which is New York College of Osteopathic Medicine.
And then I got into Brownright university, which is typically not do friendly, but I got into brown. For my urology residence, C and then I did five years there and then I did a, an extra hair fellowship in robotics. And so you’re like, you’re thinking, “okay. So this person is like super highly trained and like robotic and advanced lap endo urology. How does she get into aesthetics?” And I gotta tell you it’s like a torturous road that I’ve been down. I feel like everything in medicine and Mike, I’m sure you. Relate as well. You find your passion and then it’s okay. Later on in life to find another passion. And so specifically, my story is such that, and I started to realize that I was not being valued as my male counterparts in my program, I’m an academic urologist. I work in a huge hospital system. And what I realized was that I wasn’t valued. And how do I realize that?
So the admin pay obviously was a big discrepancy. I was paid six figures less than my male cohorts. I trained in urology, or I helped train in urology for robotics. He was offered.$75,000 more than what I was getting paid as a starting salary, and then I spoke to my chairman. And I in the administration, I said, “I’ve been here for five years. I work really hard. And let me tell you, when I say I work really hard, I never took a vacation. Never took a vacation in five years. Anytime I thought I would take a vacation, I would stay home.”
And then there was a patient that needed to be operated on emergency, and guess what? I would come in and operate on that patient. Cause I thought that’s what, this is all of that. And you give up your life for your work and to be a physician and especially to be a surgical subspecialist in a male dominated field, like urology.
I went to my chairman and I said, I would like a raise. I’ve been here for however long. And I work really hard and I’m like probably the top three producers. Because obviously you gotta show them the money, top three producers in my practice, that procedures. Yep. And residents love me.
I love teaching. And he said to me “if you can show me that another institution is willing to pay you more, then maybe I’ll match them.” Okay. A few weeks later, I got an offer from another academic institution asking me to be their program director for urology. And that’s very big in academics as yeah, sure. And and they were willing to pay me about 175,000 more than when I was getting paid there. And I don’t like talking about money, but just to, have people understand we’re not just talking about, a couple of dollars here. Listen we’re altruistic. We don’t technically care about money, but we need to make a living and we’re all in a lot of debt.
And to hear somebody else who you’ve helped train is coming in with more money than what you’re being valued at. It makes you feel a certain type of way. So I showed him, my offer letter. And, you know what he said. He said, you know what? I don’t think I can ever match that.
You should just go, you should just go and get a job there. And that’s when I realized I was not valued. Yeah. At the same time, I had a child and she was born prematurely, cuz I was operating so much. I was told to go on bed with, but as physicians who were terrible patients, I said, and so I said “let me just keep working through this. I think I’m okay.” But at 30 weeks I, I delivered through an emergency section and oh, I bled and everything. And I was I was out for a while. I was out for about six months, and then coming back into it.
I think my perspective changed, and so when you have a child with special needs, cuz that’s what my daughter has. She was born blind and she’s autistic and she was born a preemie. I think you figure out in life, things that you need to prioritize and things change.
And so I said to myself, if I was ever to be there for my daughter and build, something sustainable for her and be financially independent, it’s not gonna be working, at the hospital getting paid, and starting salary basically after five years. And there’s really nothing to leap behind us, like a legacy.
And that’s when I started thinking about entrepreneurship and what I could do. And so I moved into the field of aesthetics and I know it was a long, answer to what you asked, but that’s actually how I started. And I’m gonna tell you another quick thing. A little bit of juicy gossip, but I asked my chairman if I can do aesthetics on the sun.
And he said, yes, but then as I started to get bigger, and people were talking, he told me I had to stop and I didn’t want to stop. So I was actually forced to leave. I was basically forced to resign. And so basically at eight months pregnant with my second child, I was pretty much fired from the hospital.
Dr. Mike: Yeah. There’s so much to digest there, but your story is very, very similar to mine. I was in primary care at a son who’s autistic. And this is. I’m a little bit older than you, but this is like the early two thousands. When autism wasn’t that vogue, they weren’t making TV shows around, people with autism.
Lanna Cheuck: Yeah. Didn’t really know what it was and,
Dr. Mike: And I was the same thing. I was a yes, man, just said yes to everything and wanted to just reduce my patient hours or, my, my clinical time and basically was told, no, he can’t do it. I was like then I need to do something else because you don’t have my best interest. So it’s not really always about the money. It’s about, being there for your family and what are we all doing this for? So I commend you for taking a kind of taking a stand and doing that, but yeah, very similar.
Lanna Cheuck: Thank you. I didn’t realize that value.
Dr. Mike: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So let’s talk about the aesthetics. How did you like when you really don’t think of aesthetics when you’re in a urology practice or right. Or maybe you how did that actually connect?
Lanna Cheuck: We can’t make genitalia very pretty but it connected because my father owns a spa in the city, like a regular, non-medical spa. And I just thought how cool would it be for me to get into it? And not a lot of people know this, but I actually sold Rodan fields, which is skincare. And, it’s gotten a bad rap and whatever, but what I realized was that if I was passionate about something and I cared about something and other people were passionate and cared that I felt like I was helping people in that realm.
So I’m thinking as a physician surgeon, I’m able to actually do procedures to help people look and feel more confident. It’s all about confidence, right? We’re doing this because we wanna get to the core emotion of why people want to look and feel better. So a lot of it is confidence.
And I get a lot of people who, this too coming in after divorce, after breakup, right after a death in the family, and they just wanna feel better about themselves. They just wanna look in the mirror and say, you know what? I wanna remember what I looked like before all this stress and all this, all this sadness.
So I think that, you know what we do, we offer people a lot of that confidence building and make them feel really good and special when they come to see us. And it’s really. All about that. It’s you’re being your own entrepreneur. I love talking to people. I love making people happy probably to my detriment.
‘ We’re like people pleasers I’m sure. And that’s what makes us really good, with our patient care because they trust us and they trust us to help them look the best possible. So it was really just to like a roundabout way of me saying, what. Let me get into this a little bit, because I did the skincare part of it.
But I wanted something more because I’m a surgeon. So I like doing things. I like using my hands and I’m very artistic and this was the only way that for me, I could still be artistic, give value to patients and and to make a living and to be my own CEO. That was.
The most, the best part was like, Ooh, I can make my own hours. Little did I know that being your own CEO and having your own business means that you’re working 24 hours a day. That’s right, and you’re like, wait, I didn’t understand this. That’s, but’s different. It’s different when you work for yourself than when you’re working constantly for somebody else, right?
Dr. Mike: Yeah. Yeah. And. And you can still love and hate your boss too. I do that on a regular basis too. Exactly. I love hearing I always like hearing the stories about like how you started up your practice. For like myself, I self-funded my clinic and my first practice.
I had it where it was over a garage that when it opened, it was such a creaky garage. We would have to wait to take vitals because it was so loud, but rent was cheap and I was trying to self fund everything. Do you have any kind of like, how did you get started with your first practice? Was everything smooth sailing at the beginning? Or did you have some growing pain?
Lanna Cheuck: I feel like no matter where you are at the stage of entrepreneurship, you’re always struggling. There’s always like ups and downs. I started out with a very small almost like a closet size room and I had bought a cool sculpting machine. So big mistake, number one, to buy big equipment. Without even knowing if you’re gonna have people come through the door. Luckily, I was in an environment of a spa people come, they get their massages, they get, their facials and things like that. I thought that it would be an easy sell. I don’t even need to be there. I’ll just put a cool sculpting machine in and my estheticians will see the patients and bring them in.
Dr. Mike: No, maybe that’s the rep said, I think the rep said that to you.
Lanna Cheuck: Yes, for sure. Oh, you just need a hundred thousand patients and you’ll be fine, and, oh, that’s easy. No, it’s five years later. We just finished paying off the machine. Five years. So yeah, for sure. I, worked, I remember one time it was like nine o’clock at night. I had one patient to see me. I got there, I had my children and I left the nanny there and I drove all the way downtown, in New York City. And I was living at Harlem at the time and I just sat there waiting for this patient and just literally about to cry. Like, why am I here? Waiting for this patient and the patient didn’t show up by the way. So like my one patient. And let me tell you, when I had five patients a week, I was like, I made it.
I’m like amazing. Like I have five patients this week. I’m like so big, in my mind I was like, this is what it takes. And in my mind, like having five patients to me was a success, which, was like a low barometer, but… That’s when I knew things were gonna grow, but the real honest truth is, and then I worked at a gym here’s the gym and here’s a room for me.
And it was just me and one other person. And we kept really small. Didn’t do any advertising, no marketing, nothing, all word of mouth. That was it, all word of mouth. And then I grew, I grew slowly and then pandemic. I don’t know how it was for you, Mike, but when pandemic hit I took a chance.
I had a gamble because I’m in New York City, the hub of COVID and death, I’m in a hospital system where there were four trucks for, the corpse there, were, we had no place to put them. So I had a lot of content that I never got out there because I also train. Okay.
So I trained five years ago. So you may think, okay, let me get this straight. You opened up five years ago and you started training five years ago as a surgeon. That’s what we do. You learn one, you do one and you teach one.
And I taught anatomy in, in medical school and got a full scholarship. So like I knew my anatomy and I’m very confident in the procedurals and using my hands. So yeah, so that’s when pandemic, hit, it was like, all right, everyone shut down in New York, we were mandated to shut down.
These are elective procedures. I’m sorry, I can’t do your Botox. People are dying in the hospital, but I took a gamble and I started posting Mike. I posted on my Instagram. Three times a day for the whole three months, plus that we were mandated to close. And like the height of COVID where nobody knows what was going on and everyone thought they were gonna die.
I posted three times a day and I posted all my aesthetic procedures. And you would think that’s a gamble because people are dying and they’re gonna look at you and you’re posting about Botox and fillers. And what are you doing? People are gonna be upset with you because you’re being so insensitive. But actually it was the opposite. No people wanted to see something else that made them happy.
They needed. They needed distraction. And the other thing too, was they, everybody was on zoom, everybody. On, started to go on social media more and they wanted to look good.
Filters started to come into play. Everyone’s they’re trying to meet, their mate, like through the Instagram or through these, apps because, they were lonely and they were quarantining and whatnot. And so they wanted to look their best. When COVID happened and we had to shut down, I actually had a list like a three to four month wait list of patients that wanted to book with me.
And these are new patients have never seen me before wanted something for themselves and was begging me to open. And I didn’t, I did not open. But when I opened, that was the start of the floodgates and that’s how I grew during pandemic.
Dr. Mike: That’s great. That’s great. I like how you did it. Just other owners were saying, Hey, woe is me. Why did all this happen? But you directed yourself to like saying, “Hey, what can I do right now?” That might have an impact. And if it doesn’t then, so what then that’s it. But you decided to do it. And you found out, Hey, gradually, through social media, I’m gonna start getting a following.
Awesome. Awesome that you’re able to do that. Now, someone listening to this, we’ve got a few people who I hear from them. They wanna start a med spa. They’re tired, work in the hospital, or wanna do something else. And, a Botox somewhere in around the world, someone is teaching Botox this weekend, right?
Lanna Cheuck: Everyone is teaching Botox. everybody is, I’m glad I got into it like five years ago. And it was just really, getting off the ground. But yeah.
Dr. Mike: What is it like that, what do you think are the the biggest, how long? How will, how long have you had your med spa now?
Lanna Cheuck: It’s been… I started out in 2018, so about five years.
But I was part-time until last year
Dr. Mike: Parttime until last year. Yes. Yes. Very full time, right? Yes. With staff and everything. What are, what is maybe the two or three biggest lessons that you’ve learned since you’ve had it?
I’m sure there’s a lot of lessons, but what stand out to you?
Lanna Cheuck: So the three things I know you asked about three things number one is get good mentorship and good. Here’s the thing. When people are getting into it, they don’t know all the dangers. That can happen with this medical procedure. They think it’s just fun and gains, but it’s not. That’s why it’s great to go to a physician who, has taken all these courses, anatomy and really knows how to keep people safe.
It’s the Cowboys that are cowgirl Cowboys or people that don’t, they don’t understand all the danger that can happen with like occlusions and things like that, that come in. Number one, you gotta get good mentorship and good training. Okay. I didn’t, I did not get good training. To be honest, I took one of those like high volume and low.
Low barrier of entry to get in is basically a cheaper course, right? Where you don’t even get to touch a patient, you don’t really get to learn much. You learn some basics, which is fine. That’s great, but you’re not gonna get some hands on. You’re not really gonna learn. And to really learn, you gotta need to have, a prolonged program and have a mentor to go through everything.
So that’s number one, you gotta have good mentorship and you gotta have good training. Which is why we put together not only hands on training, but also, cadaver like an anatomical dissection course, along with the business that goes. I think number two is don’t go buy a big machine.
That’s like $250,000. You need to start slow,
Dr. Mike: Which have a high cost of disposable steel.
Lanna Cheuck: Exactly which you’re basically working for the company, it’s like you become employee of the company, just keep working for the company. But yeah. Keep your overhead low. You don’t need that much.
Number three, I would say, would be, marketing now. I haven’t paid for marketing until recently when I grew my team, but I grew my team from a one person show, which is me. And then I had on another person and now I have a team of 20 people. It’s much bigger team.
But with bigger teams comes more headaches, but that’s. That’s how it is when you scale. So I think those are the three take home questions. And then for somebody who’s already, someone listening to your podcast, Mike, who’s already in it, who’s already doing it.
What kind of advice can I give them? So the one thing that I would say for those kind of, entrepreneurs would be, if you think like a solo, small business entrepreneur, right there, there’s a glass ceiling. And you can make good money, but you are always gonna be limited.
Because you are one provider and everything’s artistic and everybody wants to come to you. So if you wanna scale and you wanna build, you gotta number one, build a, a good brand, because brand is what made Kim Kardashians so big. You gotta build your brand. And then, going, moving forward, think about ways of how you can scale to big business, and de and not having the founder. Of the business really be the main operator of the business, meaning the injector, right? You gotta get a team of people that are amazing. So you gotta get good staff and you gotta get your patients to trust your staff so that you can actually run the show. And you can scale whether it’s joint ventures, franchising, licensing, whatever you do you gotta get everything in order.
Have a good centralized system. You gotta have your systems in place before you.
Dr. Mike: Yeah. One hundred percent. I’m talking with you right now because I have injectors working for me right now. And, SOPs are so important at the end of the day. It’s all about systematizing.
If you’re spending all the time training. You’re the one actually training, we know how tough hiring is and firing can be yeah. Get things in place. Have the nurse create videos of what she does for the day. And so you don’t have to do that. And now you’ve got some procedures in place, so that’s just gonna make everything a lot easier.
It’s not in all, roses every day as we know, but the more that you systematize, it actually will be more attractive to you when you actually. Whether you’re gonna sell your business, whatever you want to do, expand, it’s giving you so much easier when you’re building your next location.
So what is the plan for you at LC Medical?
Lanna Cheuck: Yeah. So right now what I’ve been doing is I’ve been really focused on training. For 20, 23. And the reason is because I really love to train. And I, our team, we, so I have a nurse practitioner, a PA, RN, and they all train with me and it’s fun.
It’s like breaking up the monotony of injecting every day to meet other. Like-minded injectors who are flying in from all over, just to see your techniques and just to shadow you. One of the things that my, you know, injectors and I’ve trained, probably like over a thousand people by now, but I’ve trained so many people in the last five years.
The question always becomes, Hey, is there a mentorship program? S there like a business course? Can I, how can I just shadow you so I can learn the business? How you do your consultation, how do get people through the door, how do you make them trust you?
How do you build credibility and authority, in, in your injections? So that’s why we came up with our business course with our anatomical dissection course, because as as someone who was an anatomist, in medical school, I do think it’s really important for everybody to understand, all the potential complications that you can have just by not knowing your anatomy. And that also gives you more confidence to know that you’re doing really well. So we have, this celebrity, like dermatologist who created this huge program called the aesthetic Institute a skin Institute from.
Australia, we’re flying him in to come and do the cadaver course. He runs cadaver courses all over Europe, Asia, India, everywhere that you can think of. He’s like the guy and he like teaches all plastic surgeons and dermatologists. We’re getting him to come. We’ve got facial plastic surgeons, microvascular surgeons.
We’ve got myself, we’ve got Dr. Hardik, Sony. So we’ve got, this great team of people to come to talk to, to teach about all the anatomy that you need to know. We now have these amazing digital courses everything that you need to know. Mike, I love to show you some of it because it is, it’s really amazing.
There really is nothing like these digital courses that I’ve seen before, because it not only integrates like all the didactic stuff, but it shows you models, diagrams. It shows you cadaver live dissection, live injections, everything. In one place and all the potential complications, listing them out, showing you what to do and all these protocols and also with dissections as well.
So you can see if you’re injecting nasal lab folds. What are, where’s the paraform aperture, like all these things that you don’t see on any other digital platform it’s there. So digital platform training programs, business cadaver, and then also expansion, right? So we have local expansion we’ve already expanded into New Jersey.
So I think the next step is just to really build our teams in regional and other places.
Dr. Mike: All right. All right. And come to west coast too.
Lanna Cheuck: Sometime we gotta meet in San Diego. So yeah, we gotta meet. I think LA is probably like where most of my people are always asking like, Hey, when you come to LA. Yeah. But love San Diego.
Dr. Mike: Yeah. For sure. So where can they go and find out this information where, and also, where can they go and contact you? If people are interested.
Lanna Cheuck: Yeah. So www doctorlanna.com Spelled out D O C T O R L A N N A Dr. Lana spelled out is also my Instagram handle so that you can see a lot of like my before and afters.
So yeah, that’s really the two main places. I’m also on TikTok. Do you do TikTok Mike?
Dr. Mike: Reluctantly.
Lanna Cheuck: I do not know about TikTok yes. Yes. Here’s what I found interesting about TikTok. And I’ll just say this really quick. I’ve hired two like gen Z, like in their young twenties. Really brilliant.
Girls who work with me on my social media team, my PR team, and they’re putting my Tiktoks together. And I don’t even understand the language. Like they’re telling me these words and I’m like, what does this even mean? They’re like, Just go with it, just go with it. So there are these cute little, like videos that we put together.
And, honestly, what I would say is more people look and view my procedures than they do with the cutey things that I do. So it just goes to show you, be authentic, be I’m not like the cutey TikTok gen Z, like much older. I show good results, and so I think I’m gonna stick to that for now. Yeah. Yeah. But it is a traffic source, especially when, the gen Zs of the world, they may be introduced to something cutey, but then as they’re scrolling down, They’re gonna be, some of the things that, that you can learn, you can actually learn things on TikTok.
Dr. Mike: If you actually have the filters correctly and seen with others, so you never know who comes in, they might, they might start with a kind of cute sea dance and then he ends up with a cadaver that’s true.
Lanna Cheuck: And I always thought it was the younger generation for TAC Mike, but today I actually operated today at the hospital. They had asked me to come in, but my my older, like 60 something year old colleague urologist knew about me from TikTok. And he was like, I saw you on TikTok. My child’s therapist that I had a meeting with today was like, I saw you. I’m like, I’m not even, ONAC really, I’m like, but it’s getting there and it’s not just the gen Z.
It’s my child’s therapist. It’s the 60 year old surgeon who like, doesn’t even know how to open a phone, like it’s amazing.
Dr. Mike: Yeah. Awesome. This has been amazing. I know you’re busy any last minute thoughts before we end the call today?
Lanna Cheuck: I would just say, from a standpoint of those going to aesthetics has really boomed in the last 10, 20 years, there’s no slowing down of the aesthetic field.
It’s unfortunate that people are burning out of traditional medicine and trying to find other ways. This is just one avenue, right? But we offer coaching. We offer mentorship, we offer hands on training. Online training business and we wanna create a community. So I’m happy Mike to have come on your podcast and, one day I’ll have you come on my podcast when I really start to grow up my podcast.
Just because I really love talking to other like-minded individuals and you’ve always been an inspiration because you’re so business minded and I have a lot to learn from you too.
Dr. Mike: Oh, yeah, we can do it. I probably won’t join you ONAC but you never know. Dr. Lanna. Thank you so much. Thank you for your inspiration and your wisdom.
And it’s always guys, life will give you ups and downs, but at the end of the day, it maybe it’s just about posting three times a day on social media to get you started. It’s all about keep moving forward. Absolutely.