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

Hands-Age-Spots-Treatment[1]REJUVENATION GROWS IN POPULARITY

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.

YOU ONLY LOOK AS YOUNG AS YOUR HANDS

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.

HAND REJUVENATION OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE

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.

THE IDEAL TREATMENT FOR AGING HANDS

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.

WHAT TO EXPECT

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.

WHAT ABOUT HAND CREAM?

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.

CALL 205-870-3303 TODAY FOR YOUR HAND REJUVENATION CONSULTATION

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.

WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR

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

MONTHLY SELF EXAMINATION

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.

THE NECK EVENT

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.

THE BODY EVENT!

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. 

How Lasers Work

LasertomMany patients are interested in laser treatments for skin rejuvenation, treatment of brown spots, treatment of acne, treatment of blood vessels, and scars among other concerns. There are many lasers from many manufacturers of different wavelengths but what does all this mean?

First off, what is a laser? A laser is a device that emits light at a specific wavelength. This means that it may emit visible wavelengths such as red or green or it may emit wavelengths in the infrared spectrum (longer wavelengths than visible light). Why is this important and why do we care? In the skin there are targets that the laser is trying to destroy. For instance, if someone has a lentigo (brown spot) that he or she does not like, we could target it with a laser wavelength that is absorbed by the brown pigment cells but not by other cells. As the laser light is absorbed it heats the target and destroys it. This allows lasers to be precise. Some lasers target water. Since most of our skin is made up of water, these lasers are typically used to treat the top layer of skin in a controlled manner to allow for rejuvenation (resurfacing lasers).

Red blood cells in vessels absorb light in the visible spectrum (typically near green). By using a laser such as PDL at 585nm or KTP at 532nm, the red blood cells selectively absorb the laser heat and destroy the vessel. Similarly, lasers that target melanin (responsible for brown spots) heat up the melanin and destroys pigment. This is also how hair removal lasers work. They target the pigment cells of the hair. This is the reason you may be told that gray hair or blonde hair will not be able to be removed with a laser.

A unique category is the IPL “laser” used commonly. In actuality it is not a laser but rather emits a range of wavelengths. It is for this reason that it can be used for brown and red spots but is slightly less specific than lasers that target specific wavelengths.

So this is a small snapshot of laser physics. There are many other parameters that have to be accounted for to properly operate a laser but I hope that this will allow you to ask questions and understand why a certain laser will be helpful for your unique skin type. It is also the reason that it is important that laser operators understand all the fundamentals of lasers and how they work.

If you have any questions about lasers or laser treatments, please contact us at Dermatology & Laser of Alabama and we will be more than happy to explain this further. We also offer a wide range of lasers and are happy to discuss them with you as well!

4 Forgotten Steps To Beautiful Skin

beautiful-young-blonde-woman-laughingHere’s a beauty secret worth knowing: glowing skin often comes from the inside out.  Instead of pricey potions and beauty balms, try these four overlooked tricks to sensational skin.

Laughter
Fifteen facial muscles work together to help you laugh and smile, and all that laughing increases blood flow around your face.  You’ll pump up circulation to your tiny face capillaries, resulting in vibrant, radiant looking skin.  Smiling helps you look younger too.  Research shows that a smiling person seems about two years younger than they actually are.

 

Listen to Your Mom
If your mom ever said, “Wash your face before bed” or  “You don’t need makeup,” she was right. If you rolled your eyes in your younger years, you’re probably more open to the wisdom now. Your skin is your largest organ and its pores can become clogged by the pollutants, dirt and the grime of life.  Fact – washing your face nightly is vital to a fresh face.  Make-up is also a pore-clogging culprit. Consider wearing less makeup or take a makeup detox to allow your skin to breathe.  There’s a medical reason to ditch makeup too: a study found that certain beauty products may cause early menopause.

Search Nature for Skin Care
Try skin care products from nature.  Honey is full of antioxidants, which help with aging skin and wrinkles.  Honey also has antibacterial qualities that help with skin irritations and can unclog pores.  Oils such as castor, olive oil, sunflower, safflower and coconut oil are excellent for moisturizing.  Try these natural concoctions for beautiful skin.

  • Cleaners:  Honey dissolves make-up.  Mix with oil, apply to face and rinse.
  • Masks:  Spread a tablespoon of honey all over your face.  Let the mask sit for 5-30 minutes, and rinse.  Follow with a mixture of 1 Tablespoon buttermilk, 1 teaspoon of honey, and 1 egg yolk.  Apply to face for 20 minutes, and rinse.
  • Moisturizer: Argan (from kernels of a tree grown in Morocco) and coconut oil are great for hydrating skin.  After washing face apply a small amount either oil to the face and neck.

Love
Self-acceptance may be the biggest beauty booster of all.  There’s no cream, potion, pill or injection that can fight the negative pull of self-loathing.  There’s a psychology behind self-love and beauty, so love your self from the inside out.  Your skin will show it.

4 Foods That Make Your Skin Glow

pumpkinimagesWe’ve all heard about the importance of antioxidants. But what can they actually do for you?

These much-talked-about substances can help protect your cells against the effects of free radicals and the damage they cause.

There are many foods that are rich in antioxidants, but I have four favorites that are delicious AND may help your skin look younger and more beautiful!

1. Dark Chocolate

Rich in antioxidants, chocolate may reduce moisture loss in skin, improving skin hydration, leading to smoother skin and improved skin texture.

Select chocolate that is at least 70 percent cacao, and remember to keep your intake to a small amount. Just 1 ounce a day is enough to reap the benefits without sabotaging your weight.

2. Walnuts

High in omega-3 essential fatty acids, walnuts may stimulate collagen,improving skin elasticity.

Enjoy a small handful every day for healthy cells. Get your dose of walnuts by adding to healthy cookie, muffin, or bread recipes, or sprinkle over your afternoon salad.

3. Cherries

With 17 different antioxidant compounds, cherries could help slow down the skin’s aging process.

Try adding a small amount of dried cherries to your salads or keep frozen cherries for a quick and healthy smoothie.

4. Pumpkin Seeds

These little seeds pack a healthy punch and can help maintain collagen levels, increase elasticity, and stimulate new skin-cell growth.

Sprinkle over salad, cereal, or yogurt for a healthy and satisfying crunch.