Dermatology Blog
  • The Calabasas Dermatologist’s Guide to Laser Hair Removal

    For 10 years, board-certified dermatologists in Calabasas have used laser hair removal to remove unwanted hair from their patients’ face, armpits, bikini line, forearms and legs. This effective, affordable and safe hair removal method provides results that last longer than electrolysis, plucking, shaving or waxing.

    Laser Hair Removal Candidates

    Although some lasers work successfully for dark-skinned people who have dark hair, it is easier to treat light-skinned people who have dark hair. Laser hair removal may not be the right choice for people who have fine blonde hair, gray hair or certain hormonal disorders.

    The Hair Removal Procedure

    During a procedure, the dermatologist uses a laser that delivers a targeted beam of light to the hair bulb and melanin, which is the pigment that gives the hair its color. Some patients may experience mild discomfort during the procedure. To ease any discomfort, the doctor can give the patient a numbing cream to apply before the laser hair removal treatment.

    Since hair goes through resting and growing phases, the patient will need to return to the dermatology practice for approximately five additional treatments, depending on the area targeted. Laser hair removal is not a permanent solution to unwanted hair. Therefore, patients will need up to four touch-up sessions per year.

    Preparing for Treatment

    Tanning before a laser hair removal treatment increases the likelihood of blistering, so patients should refrain from using any type of tanning method for two weeks prior to treatment. Patients should also avoid bleaching, electrolysis, depilatories and plucking for two weeks before treatment. However, patients may shave until a couple of days before the procedure.

    Patients should not use makeup or lotion on the day of treatment, and they must inform their laser hair removal provider if they are currently taking any medication, including antibiotics. Those who are scheduled to receive hair removal on the bikini line should not wear dark-colored underwear to prevent laser-light absorption. Patients who are pregnant should not undergo laser hair removal treatment.

    Common Side Effects

    It is common for patients to feel a burning sensation, which can persist up to two hours after treatment. Some patients may notice a temporary pigment change in treated areas that lasts for as long as six months. Other common side effects are superficial blistering and swelling at the treatment site. In rare cases, patients may see bruising up to 10 days after laser hair removal. Scarring is not common; this side effect can usually be prevented by following all post-procedure care instructions.

  • Treat Wrinkles, Acne Scars and Skin Irregularities With Laser Resurfacing

    A board-certified dermatologist or skin cancer surgeon may use laser resurfacing to decrease the appearance of facial wrinkles, acne scars, blemishes and certain skin irregularities. During a laser resurfacing treatment, Dr. Weitzbuch removes damaged surface-level skin cells with concentrated pulsating light beams. The result is skin that looks smoother and healthier.

    Laser Resurfacing Candidates

    Certain people are better candidates for laser resurfacing than other people. Those who have shallow acne scars, facial wrinkles and fine lines may be good candidates for laser resurfacing. Patients who have unresponsive skin after getting a face-lift may also be candidates for this type of treatment. However, people who have a dark complexion, stretch marks or acne may not be an ideal candidate.

    Fractional C02 Laser Resurfacing

    Many patients in Calabasas have improved the appearance of their scars, warts, enlarged oil glands and wrinkles with fractional C02 Laser resurfacing, which is the latest CO2 laser resurfacing technology used by board-certified dermatologists and skin surgeons. This technology utilizes continuous bursts of light beams that remove thin skin layers without significant heat damage.

    The Laser Resurfacing Treatment and Recovery

    The process takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the size of the affected area. If the entire face will be treated, the patient may need general anesthesia; small areas only require a local anesthetic. Once the surgeon finishes the treatment, the treated area will be bandaged, and the patient will be allowed to go home. Most laser resurfacing procedures do not require the patient to stay overnight.

    After 24 hours, the patient must clean the treated area and apply a protective ointment four or five times per day to prevent scabs. The skin may sting or itch up to 72 hours after treatment. In approximately one week, the treated skin dries and peels. If the patient experiences any swelling, the surgeon may prescribe steroids or recommend sleeping in an elevated position and applying ice packs to the area. Most patients recover in two weeks. To cover skin redness, the patient may use oil-free makeup after the recovery period. Redness typically subsides in three months.

  • Mohs surgery

    Mohs micrographic surgery, sometimes referred to simply as Mohs surgery, is a specialized skin cancer treatment. The procedure involves removing thin layers of skin one at a time and examining them during the procedure until they no longer contain cancerous cells.

    What Is Mohs Micrographic Surgery?

    Mohs skin cancer surgery is performed on an outpatient basis under a local anesthetic. The goal is to remove as much of the cancerous tissue as possible while preserving and minimizing damage to nearby healthy tissue.

    Mohs surgery represents a significant advancement over traditional surgical excision. Traditional skin cancer surgery involves removing any visibly cancerous tissue along with a margin of healthy tissue. The excised tissue is then sent off for analysis to determine if the margins are free of cancer cells. If not, the patient may have to undergo additional surgery. The Mohs procedure allows the doctor to verify at the time of the procedure that all of the cancerous tissue has been removed, which increases the likelihood of a cure and reduces the chances that additional surgery will be needed.

    Mohs micrographic surgery is appropriate for many common forms of skin cancer, including squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and certain melanomas. The procedure can even be used on some rare forms of skin cancer. Mohs skin cancer treatment is especially effective in treating cancers that have hard to define borders, that have a high risk of recurrence, that are large or particularly aggressive, or that are located in areas where it is important to minimize the loss of healthy tissue such as the face or visible areas.

    Risks Associated with Mohs Skin Cancer Surgery:

    Every surgical procedure, including Mohs, poses risks, including:

    • bleeding,
    • infection, and
    • post-surgical pain and tenderness.

    In rare cases, patients may experience complications, including:

    • temporary or permanent numbness or weakness of the surgical area,
    • pain or itching in the affected area, and
    • keloid scarring.

    Choosing a Mohs Surgeon:

    Mohs surgery is a delicate and highly technical procedure. While many dermatologists offer the surgery, it is important to choose a specialized dermatologist like Dr. Hal Weitzbuch, who has undergone additional training to become proficient in the technique. Selecting an experienced Calabasas dermatologist with fellowship training in the Mohs procedure can reduce the risk of complications and improve the likelihood of a successful outcome.

    If you have been diagnosed with skin cancer, contact Calabasas Dermatology Center today to determine if Mohs micrographic surgery is right for you.

  • What Does Ultherapy Do?

    Ultherapy is a non-invasive cosmetic procedure. Ultherapy uses ultrasound energy to stimulate collagen production and lift and tighten the skin of the neck, chin, brow, and upper chest.

    Benefits of Ultherapy Treatment:

    Since the procedure does not involve surgery, there is no downtime. Ultherapy uses the body’s natural healing process to create firmer, younger-looking skin. There are no foreign substances involved, and the results look completely natural. The procedure can be completed in as little as 60 to 90 minutes, and patients are free to resume their normal activities immediately following the treatment.

    Ultherapy delivers the ultrasound energy directly to the structural tissues that support the skin. This gradually increases collagen production over a period of two to three months. The results can last anywhere from six months to a year following treatment. Many patients choose to have periodic touch-up treatments in order to keep up with the natural aging process.

    Who Is a Candidate for Ultherapy?

    Ultherapy is an option for patients experiencing symptoms of aging skin, such as loose skin under the chin and neck or sagging skin along the eyebrows or eyelids. Although ultherapy is not a substitute for a surgical facelift, it is a viable option for those who want a more youthful appearance but who are not ready to commit to surgery. While the majority of ultherapy patients are in their 30s or older, the procedure is becoming increasingly popular among younger people who want to delay the signs of aging.

    Safety and Side Effects:

    Some patients do experience slight redness, tingling, swelling, or tenderness of the treatment site; however, these symptoms are typically mild and resolve quickly.

    Ultherapy has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use as a dermatology treatment after extensive clinical studies. Patients in Calabasas who are interested in ultherapy should consult with board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hal Weitzbuch.

  • Skin Needling

    Skin needling, sometimes referred to as dermarolling, collagen induction therapy, percutaneous collagen induction, or dry tattooing, was developed by Dr. Andre Camirand approximately 20 years ago. The procedure involves manually applying a roller that is outfitted with tiny surgical needles to the skin in a crisscross fashion. This controlled damage to the upper dermis of the skin stimulates elastin and collagen production as part of the wound healing process. This can help reduce the appearance of scars and stretch marks as damaged skin is gradually replaced by smooth, healthy skin.

    Pros and Cons:

    For many patients, skin needling is a cost-effective alternative to laser resurfacing. The best results are usually achieved when the treatment is combined with products containing peptides, retinoids, and vitamin C that help fortify the skin and boost collagen production. The effects of the treatment vary depending on the gauge and length of the needle and the amount of pressure that is applied to the roller. Skin needling is a good tool to treat skin elasticity as well as fine lines and wrinkles.

    There is a significant difference between the needling performed by a dermatologist in a clinical setting and that performed by non-medical skin care professionals. Rollers with wide-gauge needles less than 0.25 millimeters long do not actually cause trauma to the surface of the skin. The needles merely exfoliate the skin and increase circulation to the area, which allows anti-aging skin products to penetrate deeper into the skin.

    Needles that are longer than 1.0 millimeter have the potential to break the skin, which can draw blood, open the door to infection, and lead to other adverse skin reactions. This type of needling is normally out of the scope of practice of non-medical skin care professionals and should only be performed by an experienced dermatologist to prevent the risk of infection and other complications.

    Patients considering skin needling should consult a board-certified Calabasas dermatologist to determine if the procedure is right for them.

  • What is Smartlipo?

    SmartLipo is a non-invasive technique for dealing with unwanted fat in a safe and efficient manner, without lengthy recovery times. A high-powered laser beam is used to dissolve targeted fatty tissues, which are then drained through the use of a small incision. The actual surgery is far less intensive than that offered through traditional liposuction; a given board-certified dermatologist is much more likely to recommend SmartLipo, thanks to recent advancements in laser technology.

    Why is SmartLipo a Better Alternative to Liposuction?

    As elsewhere, in Calabasas dermatology, one of the major concerns relating to cosmetic surgery is the post-surgery swelling and recovery time. Cosmetic surgery also involves a significant amount of bleeding relative to other minor surgeries of a similarly invasive level, which increases the likelihood of subsequent complication. With this procedure, the laser cauterizes blood vessels in the process of removing fat deposits. In addition to being less invasive overall, this makes bleeding and swelling much less of a concern, and greatly shortens post-surgery recovery times.

    Will There Be Pain or Discomfort?

    The procedure normally involves local anesthesia, which eliminates any pain. Some patients report minimal discomfort, as though their body somehow weren’t certain of what to feel. There is also a sensation of mild to moderate pressure. Normally, there are no severe sensations during the procedure.

    Once the procedure is over, there is a mild ache. This is usually compared to the ache of an intense physical workout, after having stayed away from the gym for a while. It normally fades quickly, on a comparable time frame to the post-workout ache. Your board-certified dermatologist can provide more specific information about likely recovery times, as well as how to deal with any discomfort that does arise.

    The Advantages of SmartLipo

    SmartLipo boosts confidence by removing unwanted fatty tissue deposits, helping to sculpt a leaner, more flattering appearance in line with an individual’s perception of how they wish to appear. It can lead to increased confidence and self-esteem, and a corresponding boost to both professional and personal success.

    Compared to other cosmetic procedures, SmartLipo features a short duration, quick recovery time and minimal discomfort. The procedure involves cauterization of blood vessels, and the use of specialized lasers promotes tissue coagulation. This results in post-surgical skin tightening for a smoother, leaner appearance, and much lower chances of any infection or complication.

    The procedure focuses on the finer details of the patient’s appearance. It is much more precise and flattering in its results than traditional liposuction.

    General anesthesia is typically unnecessary, which further reduces the likelihood of any complications. Additionally, most patients find the notion of local anesthesia to be less disconcerting.

  • Juvederm vs. Restylane

    An increasing number of men and women are opting for noninvasive methods of facial rejuvenation over traditional cosmetic surgery. Facial fillers can take years off a person’s appearance and even enhance certain features. Juvederm and Restylane are two of the most popular dermal fillers on the market. While they share certain similarities, they also have distinct differences.

    The Similarities:

    Both Juvederm and Restylane are highly versatile. They can be used to add volume to the lips, enhance the shape and contour of the face, and erase fine to moderate lines and wrinkles around the eyes and mouth.

    Both fillers achieve their results by using hyaluronic acid, which occurs naturally in the body’s connective tissues. Hyaluronic acid causes the skin to retain moisture, which helps the face appear fuller and smoother. Since it is a natural substance, hyaluronic acid is unlikely to cause an allergic reaction.

    The treatment process for the two fillers is essentially the same. The fillers are injected at the appropriate sites during an in-office procedure that takes approximately 10 to 20 minutes. It is normal to have mild swelling and bruising for a couple of days following the injections.

    The Differences:

    Juvederm has a smooth texture while the texture of Restylane is rather granular. The smoothness of Juvederm makes it appropriate for eliminating fine lines since it is less likely to leave bumps. Although both Juvederm and Restylane last for months, there is some evidence that Juvederm may last slightly longer.

    The granular texture of Restylane is better suited for adding volume to gaunt or sunken areas, especially under the eyes and creating contours. Its cohesive texture means that it is less likely to migrate to another area of the face to create fullness where none is wanted.

    Patients considering facial rejuvenation using dermal fillers should consult board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hal Weitzbuch to determine the most appropriate facial filler based on the area to be treated.

  • Understanding Your Infant or Toddler’s Eczema

    Eczema affects approximately 10 percent of infants in the United States. There are several different forms of eczema, but the most common is a chronic condition involving the immune system called atopic dermatitis.

    What Causes Eczema?

    The exact cause of eczema is not clear; however, the condition is believed to be linked to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Eczema occurs when the body’s immune system reacts to something in the environment, which causes red, itchy, rashes on the skin.

    A family history of hay fever, asthma, or atopic dermatitis increases the likelihood that a child will develop eczema. Infants with atopic dermatitis are also more likely to experience asthma or hay fever as they grow up. The condition is not contagious.

    Eczema During Various Stages of Childhood:

    During the first six months of life, eczema typically develops on the scalp, forehead, and face. The affected area may be red and look weepy. Between the ages of 6 months and 1 year, the rash is most likely to develop on the knees and elbows. The area may develop pus bumps or a yellow crust if the affected skin becomes infected. Toddlers tend to develop eczema in the creases of the hands, wrists, elbows, knees, and ankles. It can also develop around the eyes and mouth. At this point, the skin may become thick, dry, and scaly, which is known as lichenification. In older children, eczema usually affects the skin in the folds of the knees and elbows.

    Identifying Eczema Triggers:

    Identifying the environmental factors that trigger an eczema flair can help parents manage their child’s symptoms and minimize skin irritation. The most common triggers include:

    • overly dry skin,
    • skin infections,
    • extreme heat and sweating,
    • saliva from drooling,
    • environmental allergens, and
    • chemical irritants in household products.

    Infants and children with eczema should be evaluated by a dermatologist to identify which form of the condition they have and the most appropriate eczema treatment. Contact Calabasas Dermatology Center today and have your toddler seen by our board-certified dermatologist and team.

  • Cysts, Seborrheic Keratosis, and Moles

    What Is a Cyst?

    Simple cysts are a common dermatological condition. Cysts occur when a sac filled with a semi-solid substance comprised of oil and proteins develops beneath or within the skin. Although typically benign, these growths can increase in size over time and become unsightly, uncomfortable, and even malodorous. Some individuals are genetically prone to developing cysts and may experience multiple cysts during their lifetime. Most cysts are easily removed during an in-office procedure using a local anesthetic. Cysts that rupture or that become inflamed or infected may need to be opened, drained, and then packed for up to a week. Patients are encouraged to have these cysts excised in order to prevent a recurrence.

    What Is Seborrheic Keratosis?

    Seborrheic keratoses are benign skin growths that most often occur in middle-aged or older adults. They are characterized by rough bumps or patches that are normally brown in color and tend to occur on the trunk and sun-exposed areas of the body. They often seem to appear without an apparent cause. The spots may itch or bleed, which prompts many patients to consult a dermatologist to rule out skin cancer. Seborrheic keratoses that are bothersome or unsightly can be removed using an electric needle or by cryotherapy using liquid nitrogen.

    What Are Moles?

    Moles, also known as nevi, are typically benign and often hereditary skin growths. A history of sun exposure can lead to the development of an increased number of nevi. A normal mole should have a smooth round or oval shape. Most normal moles are a single light to medium-brown color. Individuals with a large number of moles may have a higher risk of developing melanoma skin cancer. While most moles never change and remain benign, there is the possibility that a mole can become atypical or even cancerous. Signs of an atypical mole include:

    • an asymmetrical shape,
    • a ragged or irregular border,
    • an uneven color, or
    • a diameter larger than a pencil eraser.

    Anyone with a mole that changes in size, shape, or appearance or that becomes symptomatic should consult with board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hal Weitzbuch at Calabasas Dermatology Center.

  • Who Should Have Mohs Surgery?

    Mohs surgery is the front-line skin cancer treatment for high-risk non-melanoma skin cancers. The procedure is highly effective and offers the lowest recurrence rate, the highest cure rate, and the best cosmetic results of any skin cancer treatment. The procedure is performed in-office and normally takes several hours to complete, depending on the scope of the area affected.

    What Are High-Risk Non-Melanoma Skin Cancers?

    A non-melanoma skin cancer is considered high risk if it occurs on the lips, nose, eyelids, ears, feet, hands, or genitals. These cancers are considered high-risk because they have a high likelihood of recurrence when treated with standard therapies. A recurrence of a skin carcinoma in these areas typically involves extensive surgery because of the possibility of undetected growth patterns below the surface of the skin, which increases the likelihood of disfigurement and scarring. A non-melanoma skin carcinoma is also considered high-risk if the patient has a suppressed immune system because of medications, disease, or genetics.

    Other Uses for Mohs Surgery:

    Mohs surgery can treat recurrent skin cancers, large cancers, cancers with unusual growth patterns or hard-to-see borders, cancers that cannot be completely removed using other treatments, and cancers that develop in scar tissue.

    Non-melanoma skin cancers that are small, superficial, or in low-risk areas are more appropriately treated using cryosurgery, excision, photodynamic therapy with topical medications, or curettage and electrodessication.

    Skin Cancer Risk:

    The incidence of skin cancer has been increasing steadily over the past several decades, especially among women and individuals under the age of 40. This is largely due to the popularity of indoor tanning beds. The best way to prevent skin cancer is to wear sunscreen and protective clothing when outdoors and to avoid tanning beds.

    Early Detection Is Key:

    Non-melanoma skin cancers are highly treatable when detected early. Although basal cell carcinomas do not normally metastasize, they can grow aggressively and damage blood vessels, nerves, muscle, and bones if not treated. Approximately 4 percent of squamous cell carcinomas metastasize and can result in death if not treated.

    Anyone with a history of excessive sun exposure or prior skin cancers should conduct a monthly skin self-exam and see a dermatologist regularly for a professional exam. Anyone discovering a new or changing skin growth or spot should consult with a dermatologist at Calabasas Dermatology Center immediately.