Full Disclosure! (Full Body Skin Check)

“Oh, but my skin doesn’t burn.”

“I hear you, but, what are the chances of actually getting skin cancer? It’s not like it can kill you.”

“Getting skin cancer is just like having a mole taken off, right? That doesn’t seem dangerous.”

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The excuses are endless. I’ve heard them all from friends whenever I mention sunscreen. My father is Portuguese, so I get the argument about “not burning.” I could lay in the sun for hours and never burn. That’s not the point. The point is, anyone with skin is at risk for sun damage and more importantly, skin cancer. (Duh)

My mother recently completed a treatment for a melanoma on her arm. It wasn’t ‘just a mole’, and if left untreated, it could be quite dangerous. We thank our lucky stars that she is under the care of an incredible specialist at Yale.

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit Dr. Rhonda Klein at Modern Dermatology in Westport for my annual skin check.

1.Why get a full-body skin check?

Why not? If you’re a woman, you get your girl-parts checked regularly at the gyno. This process is far more pleasant. Plus, most insurances cover an annual skin-check as preventative care.

2. When should I get a full-body skin check?

Dr. Klein recommends every one to two years for patients in their 20’s and 30’s, potentially more frequently depending on risk factors.

3. What should I wear?

During my visit, I chose to keep my undergarments on. I didn’t wear any lotions, perfumes, or make-up. Melanoma can hide under your fingernails. Interesting fact, Bob Marley died from an untreated melanoma under his toenail. Outrageous, right? That being said,  it is optimal to go with no color on your nails.

4. What can I expect?

Your dermatologist will most likely use a tool, a dermatoscope, to look at your skin. This tool can see past the surface of your skin, which helps the dermatologist see if anything is abnormal. In addition to looking over every inch of my body, Dr. Klein carefully inspected my scalp and even the bottoms of my feet. While she checked, her assistant used an Ipad to take close-ups of my freckles and moles.  In some instances, the doctor might decide to biopsy a mole or freckle that looks concerning. In the past, I’ve had this done. It feels similar to someone scraping your skin. It wasn’t bad at all. Thankfully, Dr. Klein didn’t see anything during my visit.

5. How do I choose a dermatologist?

Finding a dermatologist you trust is key. Dr. Klein’s resume speaks for itself –highly qualified is an understatement. More importantly, she made the process comfortable. I left the visit and couldn’t stop thinking about how much time she spent inspecting my body with her dermatoscope.  She took pictures of half a dozen moles and freckles on my body. Change in the appearance is a key sign that something isn’t right. Next year, when I am checked again, she will be able to compare pictures. (Talk about feeling like I am in good hands.) I also felt comfortable to ask her questions, and I had a ton. If you’re local, check out Modern Dermatology. If you aren’t local, check out Modern Dermatology’s Blog and find yourself a dermatologist you trust.

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I learned that I should be wearing a stronger SPF on my face daily (even in the winter)
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I even got to put my face into the Visia. My skin was is in pretty good shape, but it was eye-opening to see the sun damage I already have. All the more reason to be better about using a daily, stronger SPF.

Thank you, Dr. Klein and Modern Dermatology!