As a child whose parents emigrated to the United States from Egypt and landed in the tough town of Jersey City, New Jersey, Tony Nakhla always dreamed big. It took some imagination to arrive at today, with three thriving dermatology practices throughout Southern California and a publicity tour for his new skin care book. He recognized that in a medical career, he could find a way out of what he called “the Hood.” By completing an accelerated seven-year program at Nova’s Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences and medical training at the College of Osteopathic Medicine, Nakhla (D.O. '05) found the path to achieve his dream.
“My uncles, mother and father came to America with nothing. They worked hard, but struggled. Then my father died, leaving me as the ‘man of the house’ with my mother and two older sisters. Things weren’t easy. As a high school student, I developed a passion for the sciences and always had the ability to relate to people. I found Nova through a relative who worked in emergency medicine at Broward Hospital in Fort Lauderdale. He told me about the great Nova medical students he worked with. I enrolled as a freshman with college credits and completing my undergraduate degree in three years, I went right into medical school. At age 21, I was the youngest student in my medical class. I was surrounded by extremely driven people. There were no slackers. But we all helped each other get through the medical program. The group support helped make it a special experience.”
During his medical rotations, he discovered dermatology and realized it combined his passion for patient health and well-being with his natural attention to detail and cosmetic artistry. Completing his medical training, Nakhla established the OC Skin Institute with offices in Laguna Beach, San Clemente and Santa Ana, California. Providing dermatology and cosmetic surgery care for his patients, Nakhla realized that what most patients were seeking, but had not often found, was sound information on skin health and care. He believes the market is crowded with pseudo-experts promoting skin care products, celebrity endorsements, and more, leaving the average consumer confused.
He wrote his book, The Skin Commandments, as a response to misinformation and to serve as a resource to the general public. His number one skin commandment? “Thou shalt not tan!” said Nakhla. “Many people still equate tans as healthy. I see skin cancer patients every day, some of whom need radiation treatment for melanoma. I want to help people understand the sun from a medical and cosmetic standpoint and adopt healthy outdoor behaviors. My book shows people how to have a great quality of life, have internal and external health, and how to look and feel good.”
Nakhla plans to keep writing and wants his OC Skin Institute to be a national center of excellence for dermatology and aesthetics. He is currently working on developing an ultra potency antioxidant product line. In his spare time, he hikes, cycles, surfs and plays basketball. “I’m always outside doing something. And yes, I follow my own skin commandments. I always wear sunscreen.”