For years, we’ve been fascinated with Dr. Pimple Popper, (AKA Dr. Sandra Lee) the dermatologist who has pulled the curtain back on abnormal skin conditions and the patients who are affected by them.
Now, Chicago-based Dr. Mercy Odueyungbo is doing the same, but with her own twist. The Nigerian-American owner of Lilly Aesthetics and star of TLC’s newest show, Dr. Mercy takes viewers behind her clinic’s doors to take a close look at some of the unique (and often gruesome) cases she takes on. Specializing in malignant growths, benign lesions, Mohs surgery for skin cancers, and more, the busy mom and wife have her hands full all the time, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Everyone that walks through my door is considered family,” she said in the intro of her show. “It’s an honor that they trust me to care for skin issues that deeply affect them. I’m really appreciative of that.”
Dr. Mercy sat down with Essence to shed light on her journey on everything from overcoming the challenges of being an immigrant to becoming a leading dermatologist.
Can you share why you decided to open the doors of your office to us watching from our homes to see your patients’ interesting skin conditions?
You know it’s a crazy story (and this is the first time I’m telling it), the network was looking to do a new show with five dermatologists in New York. They came across me on social media and reached out and said that they had a feeling about me and added me as the sixth dermatologist. From there, they decided to focus on me and my life in this little town in Michigan. However, due to COVID-19 constraints, they decided to focus the first season on my Chicago practice.
It’s exciting to be able to help people have a new lease on life and it’s also great to show someone watching from home who may have the same condition, that they aren’t alone and that there is hope for them.
Your parents were both nurses. Did your path with medicine begin with them or did you stumble across your love of dermatology on your own?
Growing up I was always around surgical equipment, etc., as my father was an ER nurse. In school, I was going to be a plastic surgeon, but something just didn’t feel all the way right about it. A professor suggested I look into dermatology and I just knew it was meant for me.
For Black women aspiring to open their own practices, do you have any words of wisdom for them?
Yes! JUST DO IT! You never know what’s going to stick and you never know you may end up being the next Jeff Bezos, or Kamala Harris or you may just be the best darn version of yourself you could ever imagine!
What’s the most important takeaway you want readers to gain from not only the show but your story?
I want them to know that anything is possible. Stay positive and don’t let anyone tell you you’re not good enough, pretty enough, etc. When life hands you lemons, you need to figure out how to make lemonade.