No one really likes having to make a trip to the doctor's office, but if you haven't had a recent checkup with a dermatologist, you might want to get on that. Sure, dermatologists are your go-to doctors for acne, eczema, and other skin conditions, but there are plenty of other reasons to start scheduling your yearly exam now. We spoke with Dr. David Bank, founder and director of The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic, and Laser Surgery in Mount Kisco, NY, and he gave us insight to making the most out of your dermatologist appointment, whether it's your first time or not. From finding the right doctor to what to expect, just keep reading.
If you took my advice and checked your skin for any discolored, oddly shaped, or unusually large moles and found something questionable, don't panic just yet. Only a doctor can determine if it's skin cancer. Follow these steps:
- Make an appointment with a dermatologist ASAP.
- At your appointment, have the doctor check that specific mole and other moles that worry you. The doctor may ask if you want a full-body examination, and I'd go for it since it can't hurt to have a professional take a thorough once-over of your skin.
- If the mole looks fine, the doctor will ask you to keep an eye on it. If they aren't sure, they'll recommend a skin test called a biopsy. The doctor will numb the area, and then slice off the mole (it sounds worse than it really is). Then the sample will be tested, and unfortunately you'll have to wait to hear back about the results. Just so you know, the biopsy may leave a scar, but it's better than cancer.
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It's not only the 60 minutes you spend at the gym that keep you healthy; it's also the little things that can take a few seconds.
I know it's been on your mind, the moles on your back or your arm, or wherever. Put your mind at ease and take a minute to call a dermatologist. Make an appointment for a general skin check-up so they can take a look at questionable moles. If you've found ones that are asymmetrical in shape, have an irregular border, have varying colors throughout the mole, or if the diameter of the mole is larger than a pencil eraser, it's best to get it checked for skin cancer. You'll feel much better knowing, and it'll be great to do before Summer comes and you start spending more time in the sun.
Fit's Tips: Even though you may not be sun bathing on the beach just yet, be sure to wear a daily moisturizer that contains SPF. Not only will it prevent wrinkles, but it's necessary in order to protect you from the sun's harmful rays that can cause skin cancer.
Say you've got a mole on your back that you're concerned about. It's recently changed shape, so you call a dermatologist to get it checked out (you want to make sure it's not cancer). Good luck getting an appointment.
Waiting up to 4 months to get into a dermatologist's office has become "normal" over the past few years. Even patients with potentially serious problems have to wait. Why is that?
A pair of researchers in California decided to figure that out. They called 851 dermatologists across the U.S. and pretended to be patients concerned about a "changing mole." The average wait time was 38 days. Some cities took longer: 48 days in Phoenix, and 73 in Boston!
So what's with the long waiting period? Do we have a shortage of dermatologists? Are teenagers taking up all the appointments to complain about their oily skin? Are rich old ladies taking over the office to regain their youth?
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Laura Bush revealed she had minor surgery recently to remove a skin cancer growth from her shin. It was a squamous-cell carcinoma which is not only a malignant tumor but is also the second-most common form of skin cancer.
Bush said she hopes her experience will prompt people to pay closer attention to possible signs of cancer. So if you have a funky sore that doesn't seem to heal or moles that are getting mysteriously darker you should have your dermatologist look at them.
Fit's Tip: If you have fair skin or lots of moles, especially on your back, you should take photographs of yourself naked so you can track changes in your skin. This way those hard to see places will get monitored. Take the photo on New Year's Day, then you will remember when to take one next year.