Signs and Symptoms of Melanoma

National Skin Cancer Awareness Month may be behind us, but with summer stretching ahead, now is a better time than ever to think about the impact of skin cancer and importance of sun protective behaviors. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, accounting for most skin cancer-related deaths. The American Society of Clinical Oncology estimates that more than 100,000 adults will be diagnosed with this disease in 2020 alone, with the number of cases having increased significantly during the past 30 years. The following are some of the most common signs and symptoms of melanoma that our Charleston, SC, Germain Dermatology team reminds patients to look out for during self-checks.

Melanoma occurs if the cells that give the skin color (melanocytes) begin to develop abnormally. The only way to know for sure if the skin lesion you’re concerned about is cancerous is to have it checked by a dermatologist. As symptoms of cancer vary widely, it can be difficult tell whether a mole is cancerous or not without careful scrutiny and—in many cases—a biopsy.

With that said, the ABCDE method offers some simple guidelines for what to watch for at home. Melanoma may present with one or more of these characteristics, so finding a mole that fits any of these criteria can be cause for concern:

  • Asymmetry: The shape of one half isn’t identical to the other.
  • Border: Watch out for irregular or “blurry” borders, with pigment spreading to surrounding skin.
  • Color: Normal moles are typically a solid black, brown, or tan color. Melanomas are usually black or brown but may be mottled and can show uneven pink, blue, red or white.
  • Diameter: Many melanomas are larger across than a typical pencil eraser.
  • Evolving or Elevation: Be wary of moles changing over time or displaying new symptoms, such as bleeding.

Any new, unexpected growths or changes to existing spots on your skin should be closely monitored—especially if they develop different textures, weeping/bleeding, or itching. Another symptom sometimes associated with melanoma is partial loss of sight or growing dark spots forming on the iris.

This summer, you can practice sun safety by protecting your skin from dangerous rays. Stay out of sun when it is strongest (between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.), apply high-SPF sunscreen frequently (even on overcast days), and wear protective sunglasses and head covers.

Find out more about prevention and treatment of melanoma and other forms of skin cancer from Germain Dermatology in Charleston, SC. Talk to us today by calling (843) 881–4440 or send us a message.

CoolSculpting® and Other Body Prep Ideas for a Summer-Ready Look

Summer is on its way, bringing to mind sunny times by the water, outdoor barbecues, and lots of pool days—whether out and about or at home. However, during the cooler months, most of us are likely to have put our fitness plans and maybe even skincare routines on the back burner. Now’s the time to get ready for the sunny season! In addition to CoolSculpting®, which our Charleston, SC, practice highly recommends for fat reduction, there are some other ways you can ensure you look photo-ready next time you have to get into a bathing suit or cutoff shorts.

Upgrade Your Workout Regimen

Kicking your workouts up a notch can be the key to finally losing those extra pounds from winter and gaining the body shape you want. Try focusing on exercises to target your shoulders for “tank top arms” and tighten up your core to see a major difference. Combine exercise with a body contouring treatment for even better results.

CoolSculpting®

Trouble spots: We all have them, and they never seem to go away. From that extra cushioning on your stomach to bat wings under the arms, back flab, or love handles, even the slimmest person may struggle with at least one of these areas. When you’ve got into shape at the gym but can’t seem to reduce one or two stubborn spots, CoolSculpting® can help. The non-surgical procedure takes your body contouring to the next level by targeting small pockets of isolated fat. It can be applied to almost any body area for focused, gradual reduction in volume.

Try a New Hairstyle

Nothing says “new you” like a fresh haircut to complement your recently toned body. Getting in shape is a perfect opportunity to trim long, drab locks and get rid of split ends, as well as to groom and reduce unwanted body hair while you’re at it. A chic hairstyle or color can also draw attention away from areas that make you feel self-conscious.

Make Your Skin Look Great

Before getting out your swimwear, remember to give your skin some extra love. Exfoliation is always a good idea—and be sure to boost your Vitamin C intake!

Planning your CoolSculpting® procedure in Charleston, SC? Our Germain Dermatology team can help. For more advice, call our practice at 843-881-4440, or submit an online form to book a consultation.

5 Skin Cancer Risk Factors to Consider

Ensuring the long-term health and beauty of your skin means always being diligent about sun protection—yes, even during the cool, mild weather associated with early spring in Charleston, SC. Skin cancer treatment and prevention are both important to our team at Germain Dermatology. Fortunately, this disease, which occurs due to the uncontrollable development of mutated skin cells in the surface layer of the skin, is highly preventable.

While skin cancer can appear anywhere on the body, it typically occurs on parts that receive the most sun exposure, such as the scalp, face, lips, neck, chest, hands, and arms. Note that growths can also show up on parts that are usually covered up.

Anyone who is concerned about skin cancer should consider the following risk factors.

Excessive Sun Exposure

Skin cancer risk rises with unprotected, prolonged or intense exposure to harmful UV radiation from the sun or artificial sources. Not wearing sunscreen or protective clothing increases your risk. People who live in hot climates or high altitudes are more susceptible. Cumulative skin damage from multiple blistering sunburns significantly raises the risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Skin Type

Skin cancer can occur on all skin tones and ethnicities. However, people who naturally have very fair skin that usually burns instead of tanning, red or blond hair, and light eyes are more prone to getting sunburned and developing skin cancer. These people typically freckle or redden easily.

Abnormal Moles

Having a large number of moles or unusual moles (dysplastic nevi) are factors that may be linked to skin cancer. Patients should monitor their skin for any spots or blemishes that look different from other moles and new growths.

Genetics

Your family history will also be a strong influence on your skin cancer risk. People who have close family members like parents or siblings who have had skin cancer should be more vigilant about protecting their skin.

Weakened Immune System

Some diseases, infections, and medications can cause a suppressed immune state that makes developing skin cancer more likely.

Want to learn more about skin cancer warning signs, prevention, and treatment? The Germain Dermatology team would be more than happy to address any questions or concerns you have. Visit us in Charleston, SC, call 843-881-4440 to speak directly with us, send a message online, or use our online booking tool to get in touch.

Germain Dermatology Cares About Your Health

Given the health issues at stake our state, country, and world right now, the Germain Dermatology team is working to maximize the safety of our patients, team, and community. While that means a short-term lack of access to cosmetic treatments, such as botulinum toxin injectables, Charleston, SC, area women and men with skin concerns are still welcomed and encouraged to contact us for help.

Germain Dermatology is operating on a limited schedule for the next couple of weeks, maintaining office hours from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The office is also now offering TeleDerm virtual visits, so patients can virtually meet with our providers without leaving their home. These visits require a phone, tablet, laptop, or other computer that has a camera and microphone enabled. TeleDerm appointments can be scheduled over the phone or online. In the online booking tool, select “Established Patient — Virtual Visit” when prompted to choose a patient type. You should then be able to see time slots available for a virtual appointment.

While COVID-19 is taking the health focus these days, and is driving the difficult decisions we are making as a practice, it is also not the only health risk to be aware of. Skin cancer, and especially melanoma, is still a critical concern for patients who have diagnosed or suspected cases. Since time is of the essence when it comes to identifying and treating fast-moving skin cancer, do not hesitate to reach out to us for advice, guidance, and care.

Finally, if you have a cough, fever, shortness of breath, or other symptoms that seem to be indicative of COVID-19, please let us know during your virtual consultation or phone call, so we can schedule accordingly in order to minimize risk while pursuing your skincare needs.

For more information about virtual visits, care during this time of social distancing, and addressing skin concerns, call us at (843) 881-4440 or send a message online.

There’s a New Online Booking Service Available at Germain Dermatology!

Charleston, SC’s Germain Dermatology specializes in providing a wide range of medical, surgical, and cosmetic services. This includes treatments for common dermatological conditions like acne, care for skin cancer, injectables, laser treatments, fat reduction, and more. Whatever your goals, we are ready to help you in your quest for healthy and beautiful skin. Our new digital reservation tool, which debuted at the end of January 2020, makes setting up appointments faster and easier than ever for patients visiting us from their computer, tablet, or phone!

Germain Dermatology now offers online appointment booking, allowing cosmetic patients to directly schedule their own sessions for BOTOX® Cosmetic injections or dermal fillers. There are also booking opportunities for acne appointments, biopsies, full body skin exams, hair loss, moles, rashes, and other concerns—all of which can take around a minute to accomplish. Established patients will also be able to send medication refill requests, without having to call in by phone.

Injectables like BOTOX® Cosmetic and dermal fillers provide temporary results, and many treatments require regular upkeep throughout the year for optimal results. With this new platform, you’ll be able to instantly select a practitioner and your preferred treatment at a time and date that is most convenient for you. You can choose either the Mount Pleasant or Summerville office for your visit.

Once you’ve found the treatment you want on the website and are ready to reserve a time, you can simply click “Book Your Appointment” and follow a few simple steps. The times when each dermatologist or physician assistant is available to see patients are listed. This system allows you to initiate a request or make changes to your appointments outside of office hours, as well as make last-minute appointments more easily.

Our new system is ideal for repeat, established patients who book procedures on a routine basis, as well as new patients planning to meet with a specialist for the first time. Patients also have the option of emailing the practice to learn more about their procedure of choice.

Want to learn more about Germain Dermatology’s cosmetic and medical services for patients in Charleston, SC, and the surrounding areas? Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Marguerite Germain and other members of her professional team are happy to assist with your skin care needs. Don’t hesitate to reach out by phoning 843-881-4440 or submitting information online via a contact form.

Looking Back at 2019: Our Annual Sparkle Party Was a Glittering Success!

While Germain Dermatology is known for quality dermatology in Charleston, we’ve also developed a reputation for throwing pretty fancy shindigs! The later days of 2019 were no exception, when our annual Sparkle Party warmed up the day and lit up the South Carolina night in Mt. Pleasant on Nov. 7. The event was truly one of the highlights of our year!

Southern Charm’s Patricia Altschul attended along with her butler, Michael, interacting with fans of the Bravo show and newcomers alike. Attendees chatted, circled, and learned about nonsurgical body sculpting treatments available at the practice, including fat-reducing CoolSculpting® and muscle-enhancing Emsculpt®. Live demonstrations gave everyone an idea of what the sessions entail—though results are gradually revealed in the months after a series of treatments.

On top of the education and fun, the Sparkle Party also serves as an opportunity to help the community. This year’s event raised money for Pet Helpers Adoption Center, a local animal shelter.

Anyone who attended the Sparkle Party and who would like to learn more about what they saw is welcome to call the practice at 843) 881-4440 or fill out a contact form online to get more information. Anyone who wasn’t able to attend should watch for announcements of our next Sparkle Party in the fall of 2020—and plan to celebrate along with us.

Visit the main Germain Dermatology site to find out more about the treatments mentioned here, as well as others covered at the Sparkle Party, including BOTOX®, dermal fillers, HydraFacial®, and more.

Skin Cancer: Checking for Signs and Symptoms

Skin cancer is a disease that involves the uncontrollable, accelerated growth of mutated cells in the top layer of skin. This form of cancer is caused by damage to the DNA, especially by ultraviolet (UV) radiation. While effective treatments are available, minimizing risk of developing skin cancer in the first place is ideal. When it comes to preventing skin cancer, Charleston’s Germain Dermatology emphasizes the importance of regular self-checks and routine screenings with your dermatologist.

Skin cancer usually appears on sun-exposed skin, but can also sometimes be found on areas that are normally covered up or hidden from view.

However, in addition to prematurely aging the skin, too much UV radiation—from natural or artificial sources—can also make skin more susceptible to developing skin cancer, which can manifest as lesions and tumors.

Though there are many types of skin cancer, it can be divided into three primary groups of general concern: basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and melanoma. The more aggressive and deadly form, melanoma, can be fatal if left untreated, giving it the opportunity to spread to other organs.

Melanoma is closely linked to a history of intense sunburns experienced early in life and tends to show up as irregular-looking moles. Discovering and identifying such moles early is critical to maximizing cure rates.

Cancerous spots tend to have specific characteristics. In particular, watch for moles that are asymmetrical, have undefined borders, are strangely colored (red, brown, blue, or white), are larger than average, or are continually changing.

Fortunately, due to its typically highly visible nature, skin cancer can often be identified early. In that regard, monthly self-assessments are critical. Be sure to physically examine yourself from head to toe—and have someone look over parts that are difficult to see, such as the back. If you notice suspicious changes that concern you, a dermatologist can perform a total body skin cancer screening. This typically lasts between 10 to 15 minutes. If cancer is suspected, a further skin biopsy may be necessary for diagnosis.

Learn more about skin cancer screenings from Germain Dermatology. For general inquiries or to request a consultation, call the Charleston-area practice at (843) 881–4440 or fill out a contact form.

What is a Vampire Facial?

Halloween may be over, but it’s now that time of the year when cooler, drier weather sets in and the days become darker. Currently, the natural look is in and more women are opting to ditch heavy makeup in favor of showing off their actual skin. If your own skin is looking a little dull and lackluster, microneedling combined with platelet-rich plasma (PRP)—sometimes referred to by patients as a “vampire facial”—may be just the thing to revitalize your complexion.

Microneedling with PRP is one of the many services offered in Summerville and Mt. Pleasant at Germain Dermatology. The treatment is effective when used on its own, but patients can enjoy even more benefits when it is combined with PRP or hyaluronic acid treatments. Patients with enlarged pores, fine lines, wrinkles, scars, uneven texture, and lax skin may see improvements after a single session.

The microneedling device, which is rolled across the skin, consists of needles that are just right for puncturing it at the perfect depth.

There are two primary benefits associated with microneedling. Since fine lines and scars can be more noticeable in dehydrated skin during the colder months, microneedling facials give your skin a much-needed pick-me-up by taking advantage of the body’s natural healing process to promote collagen production. The tiny injuries encourage generation of collagen and can be useful for the thinner, more delicate areas of skin, such as around the eyes, which some other cosmetic treatments aren’t designed for.

Additionally, the hundreds of micro-channels this facial creates in the epidermis help to better prepare it for topical products that may be applied afterward—like PRP. By some counts, up to 70 percent of the ingredients in a topically applied product can penetrate and be absorbed by the skin.

In a “vampire facial,” a small amount of the patient’s own blood, containing a high concentration of platelets, is reintroduced to the facial skin. This can result in a more youthful-looking, glowing complexion, as well as boost and enhance the outcome from a microneedling session.

Ready to kickstart your pre-winter beauty routine with microneedling with PRP, or other cosmetic treatments available from Germain Dermatology? Don’t hesitate to give the practice serving Mt. Pleasant and Summerville a call at 843-881-4440 for more details or schedule a consultation.

Post-Summer Skin Renewal: Microdermabrasion with SilkPeel® Dermalinfusion

Fall is finally here, and along with it comes cooler, windier weather, changing colors in the leaves, and everything pumpkin spice flavored. As you bundle up and prepare to spend a lot more time indoors, this is the perfect time to give your skin some much-needed extra TLC—especially after months of intense summertime sun and heat. For those hoping to revitalize the appearance of their skin, the Germain Dermatology team offers SilkPeel® Dermalinfusion as an option for microdermabrasion in Charleston.

Summer activities can be exciting, but there’s no doubt they can put your facial skin through the ringer. In addition to blistering sunburns that can leave your skin flaky and scaly, spending a lot of time in chlorinated water can result in dry, cracked, irritated skin. Over time, UV radiation from the sun’s burning rays penetrates and even warps the DNA of skin cells.

In other words, sun exposure can accelerate premature aging—in addition to increasing your risk for certain health problems.

Microdermabrasion is a minimally invasive cosmetic technique for enhancing skin tone and texture, good for treating everything from sun damage, uneven skin tone, and wrinkles, to fine lines, age spots, acne scarring, and melasma. SilkPeel® Dermalinfusion, a specific type of microdermabrasion, is particularly helpful for addressing typical symptoms of summer skin damage, like oily skin, dryness, wrinkles, and sunspots on the face, neck, and other sun-exposed areas.

During treatment, the pen-shaped, diamond-plated device performs three functions: exfoliating the outer skin layer, removing the dead skin cells and debris, and infusing the pores with customized treatments. This helps nourishing serums to penetrate the deeper layers of skin for increased efficiency. Just one treatment, lasting around half an hour, results in a more radiant complexion, visible virtually as soon as the session is over.

Make summer skin damage a thing of the past with SilkPeel® Dermalinfusion, so you can embrace fall with a bright and vibrant face. To find out more about microdermabrasion alternatives available at our Charleston, SC, practice, don’t hesitate to contact Germain Dermatology. Request a consultation online or call us directly at 843-881-4440.

EMSCULPT® for Firmer Thighs and More

Smoothing out bulges on “trouble areas” of the body is often about more than simply targeting excess fat. Muscle toning also plays a major role in determining body contours. One of the newest innovations in nonsurgical fat reduction, EMSCULPT®, has rapidly grown in popularity in the last year, among both physicians and patients throughout the country. At Germain Dermatology, our team based in Charleston, SC, offers EMSCULPT® to transform the shape of the abdomen, butt, and more with a series of 30-minute sessions.

EMSCULPT® is not designed to reduce large amounts of fat—and it’s not a substitute for regular exercise. Rather, patients who are close to their ideal weight but who haven’t been able to improve some bulging areas or excess fat deposits can benefit from EMSCULPT®. Patients who choose the body contouring treatment can return to their regular activities right away without downtime, and there are much fewer risks involved than with surgical procedures.

The EMSCULPT® applicator works by emitting high-intensity radiofrequency energy, which triggers thousands of rapid muscle contractions as it moves through the skin and tissue. For optimal results, patients often choose to schedule multiple treatments.

EMSCULPT® is most often used to tone the abdomen and as a non-invasive butt lift, but it also has off-label applications for the arms and posterior thighs. The lower body is often a problem area for women, as fat tends to accumulate in that area. When used on the thighs, EMSCULPT® can create a longer, leaner appearance, as well as more balanced contours.

However, unlike the fat freezing technique used for CoolSculpting®, which simply destroys adipose tissue, EMSCULPT® does more than eliminate fat. The electromagnetic energy promotes supramaximal contractions to develop muscle fibers, thereby increasing muscle mass. This creates a more toned appearance, instead of a simply leaner look.

EMSCULPT® can enhance the results of regular workouts by strengthening and stabilizing the muscle areas in a way that would be difficult to accomplish even with the most intense strength-training sessions. The muscles are activated at a much higher level than they are during traditional squats, lunges, sit-ups, or other strengthening exercises. The treatment increases muscle development by about 16 percent in isolated areas, according to some estimates.

Want to learn more about EMSCULPT® from the Charleston, SC-based Germain Dermatology? For more details, call 843-881-4440 or visit our main website and submit a consultation request.