Melanoma On The Rise!

CDC reports melanoma incidence rate has doubled in last 30 years.

Skin cancer, the most common type of cancer, usually is the result of exposure to ultraviolet radiation. There are different kinds of skin cancer including basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma but the one with the highest mortality rate is melanoma. According to a recent report released by the CDC, the melanoma incidence rate in the U.S. has doubled in the last 30 years. This rate will continue to increase unless Americans start learning habits to reduce exposure to ultraviolet radiation.

The CDC researchers found that 9,128 Americans died of melanoma in 2011. The majority of these deaths were among Non-Latino Caucasians and about two thirds of these were men. Women are more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma before the age of 49 but after age 50 men have a higher risk. The earlier risk of skin cancer for women could be due to sun tanning and using tanning beds. For men the risk after age 50 comes from being less likely than women to use sunscreen or follow other sun safety precautions.

Detecting Melanoma Early

The good news is that most melanomas can easily be treated and cured if detected early. Just remember your ABC’s. The list below shows what to look out for when you are checking any moles or growths on your body. If it has any of these characteristics you should have it examined by a board-certified dermatologist. We  recommend yearly  skin cancer check-ups in addition to regular self-examinations.

  • Asymmetry: Looks irregular and both sides do not look alike.
  • Border: Has an uneven, irregular, notched border.
  • Color: Has uneven color with different shades of light to dark brown – can be black, red, white, and blue.
  • Diameter: Larger than the diameter of a pencil eraser.
  • Evolving: A mole that changes over time in shape, size, or color or looks different from other growths or moles.

Click on the image below to learn how to check yourself for skin cancer:

Please call us to schedule your skin examination @ 205-870-3303.

Cleanse your mind, body & skin with us!

Pigging o28daysut now and strategizing for the New Year? We have a plan. 

Cleanse and Restore Inside and Out

Your jumpstart for renewal & total life transformation starts January 5th, 2017! 

Live FREE from excess weight, lack of energy, mental fog, mood swings, illness, and feeling gloomy.

Join us at DLA for our first practice-wide cleanse event. We will be kicking off our cleanse on Thursday, January 5th, 2017, from 4:30-7 pm (presentation @ 5:30). At Dermatology & Laser of Alabama, we know that the secrets of looking and feeling your best start with nutrition. We will be led by naturopathic doctor Brenda Montrella Branch and her team who will give a presentation and start us on a 28 day cleanse and online forum.

Complimentary consultations provided by Brenda Montrella Branch and her team 4:30-5:30pm & 6-6:30pm.

Juice bar provided by Sprout & Pour.

We certainly hope you and your friends can join us! Please RSVP for the event by emailing us your name and number in your party at



Fall is here and that means cooler temperatures and a bit less humidity. Your skin care regimen likely needs a refresh coming into the fall season. This is also an ideal time to prepare the skin for a cold and dry winter.

Here are five skincare tips to help your skin look and feel its best this fall:


There are a couple of big changes you’ll want to make for fall in terms of your overall regimen. First, while summer was a good time to use slightly more aggressive cleansers, in the cooler months you’ll want to select a cleanser that is more gentle and moisturizing.

Second, if you haven’t already you should incorporate eye cream into your regimen.  It will be your friend in the fall/winter!

Lastly, skip any products with fragrance (or other unnecessary additives).


With the cool, crisp air in the upcoming months, the fall and winter seasons can mean dry skin. For fall, you will want to switch to a heavier cream or lotion type moisturizer, which helps the skin develop a lipid shield that maintains the natural oil and moisture. Be sure to use your moisturizer twice daily throughout the cooler months.


Regularly exfoliating old dead skin cells and other debris is the key for healthy and smooth skin, particularly in fall and winter seasons. Exfoliating at least once a week will help your skin maintain proper moisture level while also enhancing the efficacy of the skincare products you use.


The use of sunscreen is still pivotal even in the fall and winter months. Don’t let cooler temperatures fool you: harmful UV rays are still abundant. Regular sunscreen use is necessary throughout the year!


Fall is the perfect time to undergo procedures that rejuvenate the skin by removing sun damage you’ve received during the summer. Great skin refresh treatments include:

  • Chemical Peels: Chemical peels are topically applied formulas that revitalize the skin surface by creating an even and controlled shedding of the skin cells. This allows new layers to be exposed, creating a fresh appearance and smoother texture to the skin surface. There are many peels available, and each works with a different formulation allowing for varying degrees of peeling.  Two of the most popular peels at Westlake Dermatology are Vitalize Peel and the Advanced Corrective Peel.
  • Microdermabrasion: We use medical grade technology to provide controlled skin resurfacing that is free of irritation and loose particles with no downtime required.
  • Laser Treatments: Fraxel, IPL Photofacials, and V-beam treatments help to resurface the skin and correct damage caused by the sun. The fall is an ideal time to consider these treatments, when sun exposure is typically more limited.

Stay Protected!

skin cancerSkin cancer is becoming more and more prevalent in recent years. It is important to know what to look for and the facts to protect ourselves from these conditions and to know when to seek the advice of a board certified dermatologist.

There are many forms of skin cancer, but there are three that are more common and essential to know.

  1. Basal Cell Carcinoma – this skin cancer is the most common skin cancer and is becoming increasingly common with over two million cases a year in the United States. It typically occurs as a small pink shiny bump on the skin that does not heal, grows, and occasionally bleeds. However, while this is the most common presentation it can also be seen in many other ways. One of which is as a pigmented bump particularly in patients with darker skin types. This skin cancer rarely spreads to internal organs but does cause localized damage and destruction of tissue. For this reason, these skin cancers need to be treated and removed to prevent complications.
  2. Squamous Cell Carcinoma – this is the second most common type of skin cancer and is most commonly found in patients with the most extensive sun exposure history. These
    present as scaly red patches and bumps. These skin cancers are more aggressive and have a higher risk of spreading to lymph nodes and internal organs than basal cell carcinomas. However, if treated quickly this is rarely an issue. About 1 million cases of squamous cell carcinoma are diagnosed in the US each year.
  3. Melanoma – melanoma is much more rare than basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma but also far more aggressive. They account for fewer than 1% of skin cancers
    but most of the fatalities. Melanoma typically presents as a new or changing mole. Some concerning features are asymmetrical shape, variation in color or concerning colors such as black, red, or white, size greater than a pencil eraser (though small lesions can be a problem as well), or any symptoms or changes. It is important to see your dermatologist with any new or changing moles as melanoma can commonly spread to internal organs if diagnosed late. It is important to diagnose melanoma early as they can be treated in early stages as melanoma in situ (typically treated with surgical excision) up to stage 4 metastatic melanoma possibly requiring chemotherapy or other more aggressive therapies. There is significant research in the field of melanoma and continual advances but even so aggressive melanoma is very difficult to treat and it is very important to have regular skin checks to try to catch these skin cancers before they become more aggressive.

Prevention is key for all skin cancers and this includes sunscreen and sun avoidance during peak hours from 10AM-4PM. This is critical as there are more harmful UV rays during these hours. Also, it is important to have regular skin checks with a dermatologist to identify any concerning lesions.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule a skin cancer screening we are happy to help here at Dermatology & Laser of Alabama. With summer here have fun but stay informed and protected!

Hand Rejuvenation


Over the past ten years, cosmetic procedures to rejuvenate the face have become very popular, and now Americans are noticing that their hands are giving away their age, particularly when compared to a face that has benefited from multiple rejuvenation procedures. The New York Times reported in 2012 that hand rejuvenation had become popular among some newly engaged women, who were undergoing procedures to buff up the beauty of their hands to show off new engagement rings on Facebook or Twitter.


Hands are subject to many of the same environmental stresses as the face, and in many cases, your hands may require more than a good manicure. Hands, like faces, lose volume, fat, and elasticity with aging, and the skin shrivels and becomes more translucent, which results in more noticeable veins, tendons, and bones. Many people find that years in the sun result in brown spots and ugly wrinkles, and the skin tents, which means it doesn’t bounce back into shape after a pinch. At Dermatology & Laser of Alabama, conveniently located in Mountain Brook, Alabama, we have a variety of available options to restore youth and beauty to your hands.


Many dermatologists report an uptick in the number of patients who are turning their attention to aging hands. Doctors widely offer a series of fillers, sometimes combined with intense pulse light therapy or laser resurfacing, which plump the skin, increase collage formation, restore elasticity, and remove ugly sun spots and discoloration.

Chemical peels can be effective on the hands, as well as on the face. Microdermabrasion also provides some benefits.


Because every patient has different needs, Dr. Sawyer will consult with you to determine the best solution to restore a youthful appearance to your hands. Radiesse has a good scaffold for collagen formation, and we have found that it is both long-lasting and natural.


Hand rejuvenation procedures are done in the office, and only take minutes. Some of our patients undergo a series of treatments, and your hand rejuvenation solution will depend upon your time frame and budget. The cost of skin rejuvenation depends upon your needs. If you have injectables, then you can expect some minor swelling, which will resolve within a week to ten days.


Moisturizers can plump up shriveled skin cells, but the effect is brief, and doesn’t approach the effect of a hand rejuvenation treatment. We recommend moisturizing, particularly with a cream that has a high SPF. SPF 50 or above is ideal. Moisturizing and use of a sunscreen will improve the appearance of your hands and may delay the need for more intensive treatment. Dr. Sarah Sawyer can advise you and help you create the optimum hand care regimen to preserve the youthful beauty of your hands.


5 Simple Tips For Great – Looking Nails

Best-practices-for-Nail-health-300x199Having healthy, strong fingernails is important to maintaining your appearance and to feeling good about the way you look. Even if you don’t have regular manicures, you still want your nails to look healthy and strong. Like your skin and hair, your nails are subject to damage from lots of environmental exposures like sun and dry air as well as the effects of age,
and if you don’t take extra steps to care for them, they can easily become dry, cracked and brittle. Plus, regular hand-washing saps even more moisture and nutrients from your nails and cuticles – and if you wash dishes by hand without wearing gloves, that damage is compounded.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to help prevent damage and protect your nails. Here are a few “best practice” tips to help keep your nails looking their healthy best:

  • Wear gloves when you do dishes. Even if you just do a quick “pre-dishwasher” rinse, it’s important to keep your hands protected from harsh detergents and hot water that can leach nutrients and moisture from your nails and cuticles.
  • Use cuticle cream regularly. Rub it in to the base of each nail at least once each day. The cuticle is vital to nail health, and massaging it with a special moisturizer keeps it supple so it’s ready to support nail growth.
  • Take biotin. Biotin is a B vitamin (although some people refer to it as vitamin H), and it’s been shown in studies to help prevent brittle nails. While it won’t make your nails grow any faster, it can provide important nutrient support to prevent nails from cracking, splitting and tearing while they’re growing.
  • Moisturizers like Lac-Hydrin that contain lactic acid can be especially effective in preventing nail splitting, cracking and breakage. Lactic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) that provides a healthy dose of natural moisture. Massage it into the nail beds and cuticles throughout the day, and especially after exposing your hands to soap and water, to get the most benefits.
  • Wear insulating gloves in the winter to protect your cuticles as well as the rest of your hands from harsh, dry air.

Healthy nails deserve good-looking hands; if your hands are starting to show signs of aging or you have age spots or sun spots, we can help. Give us a call today and find out about all the options for caring for your nails and hands so you can look and feel your best.

Sun Protection Sun Up To Sun Down

uv_chartEveryone needs sun protection all day, everyday, year round.  In many cultures tans are considered beautiful, but did you know that a tan means damage to your skin has occurred?  This damage leads to wrinkles, skin thinning and an increased risk of developing skin cancer. If you tan or your freckles darken, there’s damage occurring to your skin and need more protection next time.   ASK yourself, are you protected?

May Is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

woman-with-mirror_200May is National Skin Cancer and Prevention Month which is a great time to reflect  on sun protection and cancer prevention before the upcoming summer months. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the US with an estimated 3.3 million people being treated for the disease each year. Nearly one in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer in their lifetime.  When it comes to cancer, early diagnosis is the key. Typically, skin cancer that is discovered and removed early is highly curable.

Beyond practicing good sun protection like wearing a high quality sunscreen and staying out of the sun during peak UV times, the best way to prevent skin cancer is to have routine skin checks.  A visit to your dermatologist on an annual basis is recommended, but in between visits you should perform regular self-examination of your skin.

Note: if you’ve never performed a self-examination, it is recommended to consult a dermatologist first. Your physician can walk you through your first self-exam and show you the best techniques.


The purpose of a self-examination is to note any significant changes to your skin. Document any changes that you notice on your body map. You should consult your physician if you notice any of the following:

  • Any growth that increased in size
  • Skin growths that appear brown, black, pearly, translucent, or multicolored
  • Color, size, and texture changes of moles, birth marks, or beauty marks
  • Any area of the skin that persistently itches, scabs, crusts, or bleeds
  • Any open sore that does not heal in 2-3 weeks
  • Small pink, red, or flesh colored spots
  • Any sensation changes of the skin including persistent itching, tenderness, or pain


Grab a good light source, hand mirror, full-length mirror, writing instrument, and paper. Your entire examination will take less than 10 minutes. Follow these simple steps:

  • Examine your entire face including mouth, cheeks, lips, forehead, and nose.
  • Use the hand held mirror to check your scalp by parting your hair.
  • Inspect your forearms, wrists, and hands (front and back).
  • Utilize the full-length mirror to inspect your shoulders, upper arms, neck, torso, and chest. Women should inspect the undersides of their breasts.
  • Standing with your back to a full-length mirror use a hand mirror to scan the back of your neck and the upper back.
  • Examine your lower back and buttocks.
  • Finally, sit down and inspect your lower legs, shins, ankles, and toes by raising your leg on a stool.  Also inspect the groin area using the hand-held mirror.


coolmini (1)Join us Thursday, May 12th from 4-7pm.

We will be providing complimentary consultations and Dr. Sawyer will speak with a slide presentation from 5:30-6pm.  All attendees will receive a baseline 15% off procedures as well as an additional 5% – 15% off through random selection.  That means 20-30% discounts will be available.

This will be our best offer of the year.  Please reserve your place by letting our front staff know or by calling 205-870-3303.  

SAVE BIG NOW on CoolSculpting!

coolsculpting-pinchVisible fat is an unsightly and persistent issue that, in many cases, even the most rigorous exercise and diet practices can’t completely cure. Surgical options such as liposuction leave patients with long recovery times and require uncomfortable explanations for work absences – hassles that really get in the way of enjoying the results. Years of research have finally offered up an intriguing and effective new approach: CoolSculpting. This procedure requires no incisions, no anesthetic, and no recovery time, harnessing the power of cold and the body’s own metabolizing process to turn back the clock on bulges and fat throughout the body. Call our office today @ 205-870-3303 schedule your complimentary consultation. Inches are all you have to lose!

Spotting Skin Cancer From Home

woman-with-mirror_200United States Melanoma skin cancer rates have doubled within the past 30 years and will continue to increase unless Americans take higher precautions in protecting their skin from harmful UV rays. If detected early, skin cancer is one of the most highly curable of all cancers. This is why Dr. LaTowsky highly recommends her patients to perform monthly, at-home skin checks and encourages them to schedule yearly skin examinations at the Clear Dermatology office. Skin self exams can be done easily at home in just a few minutes, and could be potentially lifesaving.


Here is a step-by-step guide to checking your skin at home. See below for the irregularities you should be looking for!

Step 1: Examine your body front and back in the mirror, then right and left sides with arms raised.

Step 2: Bend elbows and look carefully at forearms, upper arms and palms.

Step 3: Look at the back of legs and feet, spaces between toes and the soles of your feet.

Step 4: Examine back of the neck and scalp with a hand mirror. Part hair multiple ways for a closer look at the scalp.

Step 5: Check the back and buttocks with a hand mirror.

Follow the ABCDE guide to detect any irregularities in existing or newly developed pigmented skin lesions.

Asymmetry: One half does not match the other half

Border Irregularity: The edges are notched or ragged

Color: Varied shades of tan, black or brown

Diameter: Greater than 6mm

Evolving: Change in size, shape or shade of color


If you notice any concerning spots during your monthly skin self exams contact our office immediately to schedule an appointment.


A cropped shot of a happy family doing yoga together

Do you daydream about your perfect look? There is no need to daydream any longer. Thanks to the latest non invasive fat melting technology, you can have the body of your dreams. It starts with identifying the areas of the body you wish to have treated. They can include the abdominal area, back, arms, thighs, knees, bra fat, buttocks, and waist. Despite an excellent exercise and diet regimen, these areas may still need further treatment due to stubborn fat. Our state leading, comprehensive collection of non invasive technology can be ideal for dropping a clothing size as well as attaining firmer and more youthful-looking skin.

Join us Thursday, March 24th from 4-7pm.  We will be providing complimentary consultations and Dr. Sawyer will present from 5:30-6pm.  All attendees will receive 15% off procedures as well as an additional 5% – 35% off through random selection.  That’s right, GET LUCKY on St. Patrick’s Day with 20% to 40% off!  This will be our best offer of the year.  Please reserve your place by replying to this e-mail with your name & phone number or calling 205-807-3303.  

Your friends are welcome.