Twin Passion

Posted on January 14, 2020

Doctors Shakha Gillin and Vishakha Gigler are leading physicians, often recognized by professional groups, as well as Ranch & Coast readers, as tops in their specialties. A board-certified pediatrician, Dr. Gillin co-founded Coast Pediatrics in Del Mar and Carmel Valley. Dr. Gigler, a board-certified dermatologist, is co-founder of Comprehensive Dermatology Group in Encinitas. They also are twin sisters who share a passion for health and wellness.

The sisters were born in upstate New York to an engineer father and stay-at-home mother. Unaware that they were having twins, they had only picked out one name, Shakha, which is Sanskrit for “branch of a tree.” When their second daughter was born 30 minutes later, they named her Vishakha for “little branch of a tree.”

The twins at age five or six

Raised in Seal Beach, the sisters were strong academically, excelling in math and science, so “medicine was a natural fit,” says Gigler. Both received their undergraduate and medical degrees at UC San Diego. There must be something in the family’s genes — their younger brother is also a physician, based in Los Angeles. But Gillin adds that it’s not only genes but “the drive to work super hard.” The twins are also very social, a wonderful asset when dealing with patients. “I find a real satisfaction in helping people every day,” Gigler says.

Their tips for optimal health in the New Year? “My advice is going to be to take great care of your skin,” says Dr. Gigler. “Keep it simple but have a regimen. The most important part of that regimen is sun protection. We live in San Diego so that we can enjoy the beautiful outdoors. Just be smart about it. And check your skin once a month for any new or changing spots. See the doctor if you notice any changes, and get a skin check on a regular basis.” comprehensivederm.com

Dr. Gigler’s soon-to-be launched website, OTCDerm (separate from Comprehensive Dermatology Group), will help consumers navigate the overwhelming number of over-the-counter skin care products through the eyes of dermatologists. “What makes the site unique is that it is written by dermatologists,” she says. “Topics covered will include everything from sunscreens to athlete’s foot to anti-wrinkle products.”

As a pediatrician, Dr. Gillin has a special interest in healthy, active lifestyles, beginning in childhood. “For me, it’s all about preventing and reversing chronic disease,” she says. “Chronic disease includes diabetes and heart disease, and accounts for the greatest number of deaths, health care dollars spent, and overall morbidity. Fifty percent of our population has either prediabetes or diabetes, and it is preventable with lifestyle — eating right and exercising. So, make mindful choices on eating, specifically avoiding sugar and processed foods, and exercise. Be aware of hidden sugars in beverages  [like] sodas, sports drinks, and juices. And for those 18 years and older, check your chronic disease markers at least once per year.” coastpediatrics.com

Last year, Gillin and her husband, Dr. Scott Gillin, a pediatric anesthesiologist, launched The Warrior Clinic, offering lab testing for wellness monitoring because they were “overwhelmed by the amount of chronic disease we see.” It offers affordable ($59) at-home testing for diabetes and heart disease (lipids and optional hsCRP), which aren’t routinely provided during regular checkups. “The results are easy to understand,” Gillin says. “And those with abnormal results are encouraged to make diet and exercise changes, as these diseases are reversible through lifestyle. It’s a motivating factor for people to make needed changes.”  The couple is also partnering with corporations to provide screenings to employees. thewarriorclinic.com   Andrea Naversen

Shakha Gillin and Vishakha Gigler