Aging gracefully is not desirable to some people when there are many effective and safe cosmetic procedures that can temporarily reduce a very prominent sign of aging: wrinkles. One such procedure involves the use of botulinum toxin injections. Botulinum toxin is produced by the fermentation of a type of bacteria called Clostridium botulinum. The most widely used form of botulinum toxin is Type A (Botox® Cosmetic, Allergan, Inc). Botulinum toxin, what we will now refer to simply as Botox, used cosmetically, works by temporarily preventing the nerve from activating the muscle responsible for wrinkling the skin.
Nearly every person will experience a diagnostic error in their lifetime, according to a 2015 report by the National Academy of Medicine (formerly known as Institute of Medicine). That's a scary fact to wrap your head around. We hold our doctors and healthcare professionals to a high standard, expecting them to understand our symptoms and diagnose us correctly every time. But doctors are humans after all.
The success of injectable cosmetic Botox® in erasing furrowed brows, crow’s feet, and wrinkled lip lines has prompted growing interest in other subcutaneous therapies to achieve new kinds of cosmetic results.
Are you aware the U.S. is experiencing a skin cancer epidemic? The Skin Cancer Foundation points out that treatment for nonmelanoma skin cancer (squamous and basal cell carcinoma) increased by 77% between the years 1992 and 2006. Ninety percent of these nonmelanoma cancers are due to sun exposure, which means more people than ever before are developing nonmelanoma skin cancer on body parts that tend to be most exposed to the sun: the face, neck, hands, and feet. Scarring and skin tissue removal are huge concerns to patients who are facing cancer surgery on these areas. Fortunately, Mohs surgery – or simply “Mohs” – offers an alternative to traditional surgery.
Finally, there is a new hope for adult patients suffering from moderate to severe atopic dermatitis (AD), or eczema. Both dermatologists and AD patients can celebrate. Dupilumab has been approved by the FDA to treat adult AD although its long-term safety and effectiveness have not been established yet. More data is needed on how long benefits last and whether there are safety concerns that have not yet become apparent based on the clinical trials.
Because skin is the largest, most visible indicator of aging, patients increasingly turn to dermatologists for advice and information about keeping skin looking healthy, supple, and firm as they age. Even as recently as 10 years ago, that meant plastic surgery – expensive, deeply invasive procedures with extensive risk and recovery time, and sometimes rather unnatural results. But now, more people first consider nonsurgical, noninvasive methods that help skin more naturally retain moisture, elasticity, and firmness – a younger appearance without going under the knife.
Despite our best efforts, there are some skin conditions that invariably get worse in the summer. I fully understand why many of my patients come to dread the summer as a time of frustration. Maybe you can relate? They spend fall, winter, and spring clearing their skin and then watch it worsen during the summer despite their best efforts to wear hats and sunscreen. Part of the problem is due to our busy lifestyles and the increase in sun exposure during the summer months. I tell my patients they don’t have to despair; there are actions they, and you, can take beyond sunscreen and hats that will help minimize the effects of skin conditions that worsen in the summer.