Med School/Year Graduated: University of Arizona, 2003
Years in Practice: 8
What differentiates medical dermatology from general dermatology?
Medical dermatology is the discipline within dermatology that focuses upon those skin diseases with significant medical consequence, or those requiring treatment with significant potential risk. We also specialize in identifying skin findings that are paramount to the discovery of internal disease.
Why did you pursue this specialty?
I chose the field of dermatology to make a meaningful impact in the quality of people’s lives – broadly, yet specifically. Dermatologists take care of men and women, the young and not-so-young. We treat patients with infections, genetic disorders, malignancies, inflammatory disorders, autoimmune disease and even those with cosmetic concerns. We have the immediate gratification of eradicating an acute ailment, and the privilege of a special relationship garnered through managing chronic diseases over years. Surgery, the microscope, physical exam, diagnostics and treatment… we really get it all!
Is being a dermatologist in Arizona like being an orthopedist at a BMX rally? Is there higher demand here?
Absolutely. However, we have a skin cancer epidemic in the [whole] U.S. Subsequently, we are actually very much in demand everywhere.
When should we begin having skin-cancer checkups?
Unlike screening for many other types of cancer, definitive guidelines don’t exist for skin cancer screening. If one has a strong family history of skin cancer, a history of ample unprotected exposure to UV light, or other risk factors such as organ transplantation, it is advisable to be evaluated by a dermatologist who can then direct the appropriate frequency for ongoing surveillance.
Do you feel pressure to have picture-perfect skin?
Not really. I am actually very “human.” If you catch me on the weekend with my kids at the park, I’ll be without makeup, and my hair likely in a ponytail – but of course with sunscreen and a hat.
Should Phoenicians always wear sunscreen?
Sunscreen or other forms of photoprotection (sun-protective clothing, hats, shade devices) are recommended [from] 9 a.m.-5 p.m. most months of the year in Arizona. Both sunburns and increasing cumulative doses of UV light with incidental exposures increase the risk of skin cancer.
Are there any foods one can eat that especially help the skin look healthy?
Avoiding foods with a high glycemic index is one of the more important dietary interventions to improve skin health. Vitamin D supplementation may help reduce the risk of melanoma. Most foods that are good for general health are also good for the largest organ in your body, the skin!
Any exciting new treatments or techniques on the horizon?
Dermatology is an impressively scientific field. We continue to unravel the complicated mysteries behind various disease states. Targeted immunotherapies offer us the benefit of directing our therapeutic interventions more precisely, improving outcomes and reducing risk. Translational genomics assist us in understanding why one person may respond more favorably to one version of a drug versus another, which helps us more reliably predict responses to therapy, reducing the cost of healthcare to the system at large.
“If I wasn’t a doctor, I’d be...”
A professional basketball player – point guard.