01/20/2015 07:40 am ET Updated Mar 22, 2015

Women in Business Q&A: Goesel Anson, M.D., F.A.C.S.

Nationally recognized for her expertise in aesthetic plastic surgery of the face, Dr. Goesel Anson is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and the American Board of Surgery. Dr. Anson has been consistently listed as one of the Best Doctors in America and as a Top Doctor, regionally. She is often called upon for expert commentary by such national media outlets as The Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel, SKY TV, New Beauty and many others.

Dr. Anson graduated from the University of Illinois School of Medicine where she was inducted into Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) medical honor society and received the Warren Cole Scholar Award. She completed a general surgery residency at the University of Illinois and Cook County Hospital and went on to train in plastic and reconstructive surgery at New York University, regarded as the premier institution for plastic surgery training. After completing a fellowship in Microsurgery at NYU, Dr. Anson joined the teaching faculty at the University of New Mexico, and since 1996, has been in clinical practice in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The founding partner of one of the busiest practices in the country, Dr. Anson has an impressive patient roster. In addition to extensive experience in plastic surgery of the face, Allergan, Inc. (maker of Botox® and Juvederm®) ranks Dr. Anson's practice among the top 1% in the US for non-invasive rejuvenation treatments.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I began training as a physician in the 80's-90's, and learned absolutely nothing about business at the time. However, an important part of training to be a surgeon, especially a plastic surgeon, is to be independent and creative. If a standard solution doesn't present itself, how else might we solve a problem? That's the case for moving tissue around the body and inventing new surgical instruments to help accomplish it.

Over the last 15 years, my plastic surgery group (Anson, Edwards & Higgins) has become one of the most successful in the country. I think that a major reason for that success is the need to learn how to recognize human strengths and weaknesses and work within that framework. Most surgeons are competitive by nature, so we avoid that trap by each having our own area of expertise. We refer to one another and often operate together. My practice philosophy has always been to encourage specialization. The point is to identify what you love to do and master it. This is the philosophy we employ with JuveRest. We identified a specific issue that had largely been unaddressed (sleep wrinkles) and worked tirelessly to master a successful solution.

How has your previous employment experience aided you tenure at JuveRest?
My world involves all aspects of facial aesthetics, from 3-dimensional structure to cellular microscopic skin aging. I believe that it is important to offer my patients a full spectrum of services and expertise. Whether my patient would benefit most from medical skin care, non-invasive treatments (Botox, fillers), lasers or surgery, I can objectively assess them and refer them to the appropriate members of my team. This way we avoid the inherent problem in solo work of "if you only have a hammer, all the world's a nail."

My goal is to offer expertise and all modalities related to facial aesthetics and aging. As an observer of facial aging, I have come to appreciate subtlety and wrinkle nuance, and it is clear that certain aspects of facial aging are directly related to habitual sleep positions. I had always recommended my patients avoid side and stomach sleeping positions to avoid facial distortion and only one pillow was available on the market at that time. Although you could position yourself to avoid facial compression while falling asleep, it did not provide the support necessary to avoid facial distortion throughout the many position shifts that occur unconsciously during the night. No existing pillow or prop worked well, and since all surgeons are by nature problem solvers, I started thinking about a solution.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at JuveRest?
Five years ago, I was encouraged to create a prototype by my friend and patient, Cynthia Callendar, who had a success record as a business attorney and entrepreneur, and the manufacturer of a popular and effective sleep mask, Sleep Master. So forming the JuveRest business together was a perfect synergy. I carved the first version out of Styrofoam, and we were off on our mission to provide innovative, effective, economical and easy-to-use health and beauty solutions. JuveRest ®The Sleep Wrinkle Pillow is our inaugural product and we have several other technologically advanced sleep solutions currently under development.

The challenges involved with bringing a brand new product to market have been numerous. First, we faced an arduous research, development and manufacturing process. We worked on finding the optimal materials, density, size and shape, then developing the mold and molding process for the highly specific support and comfort requirements of the design. Next was the lengthy process of obtaining patents both domestically and internationally. We felt strongly about finding a capable US manufacturer who could successfully accomplish mass manufacture of the complex pillow design. Even creating suitable packaging to relay the importance of its unusual contents presented a challenge.

Once we actually had the completed product in our hands, how then to present it to the world? We understood that the concept of sleep wrinkles and facial distortion during sleep would be new for most consumers. This fact combined with the unusual design of the pillow would require explanation and education. Most people do not realize that some of the wrinkles on their faces are caused by the way they sleep. There had been only a handful of papers in the medical literature that recognized sleep wrinkles and their effect on facial aging.

We were pleased that QVC immediately recognized the quality and efficacy of our pillow and the important solution it provided. Now facial distortion during sleep and sleep wrinkles have become a serious topic of conversation both in aesthetic medicine and public sectors. We are gratified because we think we started that conversation and recent media buzz! No anti-aging beauty regiment can be complete without taking preventive measures to keep from sleeping on your face. JuveRest provides an easy and effective solution.

What is the most important lesson you've learned by starting your own business?
The most important lesson I have learned in starting my own business is to stay positive and focused on my goals. Many times it seems like obstacles are insurmountable. The old adage, "if it were easy, everyone would be doing it" applies. We haven't met an obstacle we couldn't surmount, but there certainly have been times when it felt like we were stuck. Having a partner helps when each needs a gentle nudge forward.

One example: We spent more than a year with our first manufacturer trying to get the pillow out of its mold without tearing it in the process. We tried dozens of foam formulations and mold alterations but nothing worked. They told us it couldn't be done, and we needed to change the shape of the pillow.

We didn't agree. Instead, we started from scratch with another manufacturer. In the meantime, all our other work had to move forward. So we were developing a business around a product that our manufacturer said they couldn't make. After a year of trial and error, lo and behold, our manufacturer finally got it right! It was only then that we could move to launch.

It was more difficult to take the concept to fruition than we hoped. My partner Cynthia, as a business woman, had more realistic expectations of the work and time that would be involved. I have come to have a greater respect for the intricacies of the business world and entrepreneurship, and am gratified by the success we have achieved.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
As a surgeon with a busy practice, an entrepreneur, a wife, and a mother, the balance has been difficult to maintain. But the key has been seeking alliances. In my medical practice I have surrounded myself with capable partners and staff. With JuveRest I have formed a partnership with a capable business leader. In my home life I am very lucky to have an extremely supportive husband (who is a neurosurgeon - and a great cook!). These wonderful people have allowed me to concentrate on the things that are most important in my life.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
I think it is much easier to be a woman in medicine than in business. In the world of private practice medicine, the ability, quality and skill of the physician trumps everything. That's not necessarily true for academic medicine in larger institutions where institutional political systems resemble more the world of business. Starting the JuveRest business as a partnership of two women, we were not subjected to the typical issues of women face in the workplace. Probably the biggest issue in the corporate world remains equal pay for equal work.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
While being a woman in surgery is not a big issue anymore, we have our predecessors to thank. Olga Jonasson, MD partly inspired my desire to do a general surgery residency. OJ was Chief of Surgery at Cook County Hospital and was a seriously tough cookie who was admired, respected and loved by male and female residents, both. I can only imagine what she had to put up with during her training, but it was because of women like her, that I didn't have to. She is gone now but ultimately became the first female department chair of surgery at Ohio State.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
Las Vegas Mayor Caroline Goodman is an amazing woman. A very matter of fact mother, grandmother and activist for education, she founded the premier nonprofit college preparatory school in Las Vegas. She was unsatisfied with the options available for her young children, so decided to start her own school and worked hard for many years building the institution and counseling the children from her tiny corner office. Instead of resting on the laurels of her husband's business successes, she has always been a tireless activist for education and for our city, now as mayor!

What do you want JuveRest to accomplish in the next year?
We expect the next year to be very exciting. We are continuing on efforts to educate the public about the easy solution JuveRest offers for the ubiquitous issue of facial aging and distortion of the face during sleep. We will increase distribution nationally and internationally and are following up with more high quality sleep solutions that similarly enhance quality of life.