Monday, December 24, 2012

Put down the fruitcake!

As you know, fruit cake and other holiday desserts are loaded with sugar. Did you also know that sugar makes your skin dry and dull and leads to wrinkles?

The cause is a process called glycation, in which the sugar in your bloodstream attaches to proteins to form molecules called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Unfortunately, the collagen and elastin proteins that help keep our skin firm are most vulnerable to glycation. Once damaged, collagen and elastin fibers become brittle, causing wrinkles to form and skin to sag. According to an article in the British Journal of Dermatology, these negative effects can begin to appear around the age of 35 and rapidly increase after that.

Luckily, new collagen can be built with products that contain retinoids; ask your doctor about lotions and serums that have retinol. Once you have used a collagen building product, it is important to take further steps to keep your skin looking healthy and young.

First and foremost, reduce your sugar intake and apply a broad spectrum sunscreen daily. Next, be sure to drink plenty of water, and consider supplementing your diet with at least 1mg of B1 and B6 vitamins every day.

Green tea is also a great antioxidant. When used topically, it can more easily reach the dermal layer of skin where collagen and elastin reside.

Greenville Dermatology will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but we are happy to share with you a recipe for a green tea face mask that you can mix at home:

·         Brew green tea; double the usual amount of tea, but keep the amount of water the same. You want the tea to be potent.

·         Let the tea cool to room temperature.

·         Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of rice flour; you want a smooth consistency so that it is spreadable, but not runny.

·         (Optional) Add half of a mashed banana and/or mango; banana moisturizes and mango cleanses.

We encourage using prescription lotions and serums for more drastic results, but this mask is a great home remedy to tone skin between treatments.

So, apply your mask, grab a bottle of water and ring in 2013 with great skin!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Does the cost justify the means?

According to a recent article in Medpage Today, an estimated 75,000 cases of melanoma are expected to be reported in the United States in 2012. Considering that melanoma has been tagged as the deadliest form of cancer, it should be no surprise that there is ongoing research to find a cure.

In 2011, a BRAF inhibitor called vemurafenib (marketed as zelboraf), was approved by the FDA after exhibiting significant increases in the survival rates of patients in the late stages of melanoma. Prior to zelboraf, dacarbazine was the only treatment available to those diagnosed with melanoma. However, the medication proved to be effective in only 7-12 percent of all cases. In addition to increasing a patient’s chance for survival, zelboraf has also been shown to improve a patient’s quality of life and self-sufficiency.

Unfortunately, while the statistics relating to zelboraf are promising, the cost for treatment is extremely discouraging. Angie King, a PharmD student at Northeastern University in Boston, has been conducting a budget impact study to determine if the cost of zelboraf justifies its use in Medicaid programs. 

According to King, conventional treatment with dacarbazine would cost $31,873 per year, whereas a year of treatment with the traditional drug plus vemurafenib could cost as much as $314,347. That is a startling difference, but refusing to offer this new treatment due to cost could raise major ethical questions.

Do you think that an expensive drug such as zelboraf should be made available through Medicaid if it saves lives?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Am I right for cosmetic dermatology?

If you are considering a cosmetic procedure, you are not alone. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) reports that nearly 9.2 million cosmetic procedures were performed in 2011.

According to ASAPS, 82% of those cosmetic procedures were nonsurgical, and the top nonsurgical procedures included botulinum toxin type A (Botox), hyaluronic acid, laser hair removal, microdermabrasion and IPL laser treatment.

Choosing whether or not to undergo a nonsurgical cosmetic procedure is an important and highly personal decision.  The question is not always “is a cosmetic procedure right for me?” Sometimes you must ask “am I right for that cosmetic procedure?”  To help answer those questions, I want to offer some advice:

DO seek treatment from a trained medical professional
DO understand all of the facts about the procedure that you are considering, including possible risks
DO know all of your options; seek a second opinion if necessary
DO be honest with yourself about your level of risk and pain tolerance
DO have realistic expectations about the outcome of any procedure
DO have a healthy self-esteem and avoid losing perspective

DO NOT buy in to unsubstantiated claims and false advertisements that offer easy and cheap fixes
DO NOT expect to have the same results as another person; everyone is different
DO NOT be passive when discussing a potential procedure with your doctor; be clear about what you want and expect so that both parties are on the same page

Information makes all the difference when deciding if cosmetic dermatology is the right option for you. Be sure to do your research and remember we are always here to answer your questions.