Dr. Joel Schlessinger answers: are varicose veins dangerous?

Friday, December 26th, 2014

Dr. Joel Schlessinger answers: are varicose veins dangerous?

Varicose and spider veins leave many people unable to wear shorts or dresses because of their unsightly appearance. More than 40% of women experience varicose veins as they age but there are methods that can be used to treat this condition.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger explains what varicose veins are and what causes them.

When vein walls become weak and fail to circulate blood properly, pools of blood can form in the veins causing them to bulge. Varicose veins are most common in the legs and thighs and are often seen in individuals who spend a lot of time on their feet. This issue can also be hereditary and is more likely to appear if an individual is overweight, has a history of blood clots or experiences hormonal changes such as during pregnancy.

Varicose veins are common and generally painless, however they can cause discomfort and pain when walking or standing for long periods of time. In some cases, varicose veins can cause serious conditions such as venous stasis ulcers, or painful sores that occur when the vein does not provide enough drainage. Infection is also a risk if there is a buildup of fluid in the veins.

Treating varicose veins can prevent the risks, says Dr. Joel Schlessinger.

There are several treatment options as well as lifestyle changes that can help you deal with varicose veins. Maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and avoiding long periods or sitting or standing can help reduce the likelihood of unsightly leg veins.

Other treatment options include laser therapy and sclerotherapy during which the veins are injected with solutions that close off the affected veins. Undergoing one of these treatments or combining them can help reduce the appearance of this common issue.

Do you have questions about leg veins for Dr. Joel Schlessinger? Ask them below in the comments section.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger discusses punch versus shave biopsies

Friday, December 19th, 2014

Dr. Joel Schlessinger discusses shave versus punch biopsies

A skin biopsy is a procedure that involves removing a small sample of skin tissue that is then processed and examined for abnormalities. Biopsies are a crucial step in diagnosing many skin conditions, most commonly melanoma and other forms of skin cancer. There are several different methods used to remove skin during a biopsy, and the technique your physician uses will depend on the type and extent of the suspected cancer or abnormality. The two methods most often performed are punch and shave biopsies.

Punch biopsies may be useful for treating acne scars, says Dr. Joel Schlessinger.

A punch biopsy involves using a special tool to remove a circle of skin that is usually anywhere from two to six millimeters in diameter. This process is similar to using a cookie cutter. Punch biopsies are most advantageous when an abnormality deep below the skin’s surface is suspected. A punch biopsy is ideal for this type of processing, as it ensures that the entire suspicious mole or spot is removed in one attempt. This method is almost always necessary for a flat mole, one that isn’t raised above the skin’s surface.

Punch biopsies are also sometimes used to successfully minimize depressed scars caused by acne or injury. In this instance, the punch biopsy tool is used to excise the scar, and then the skin’s edges are sutured together to produce a new, much less noticeable scar.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger finds shave biopsies useful for identifying certain types of skin cancer.

Generally, Dr. Schlessinger tries to avoid punch biopsies for extracting abnormalities that can be obtained with a surface-level procedure. Shave biopsies involve using a tool to shave or scrape abnormalities off the skin’s surface, and are used often to detect forms of skin cancer like squamous-cell carcinoma and basal-cell carcinoma. Raised moles and spots can usually be shaved off with success.

Physicans like Dr. Joel Schlessinger will decide between a punch or shave biopsy based on your unique needs.

When it comes to choosing between a punch or shave biopsy, there is no hard and fast rule. Your physician will make the best choice for your unique circumstances, and for those patients concerned with pain and scarring, there is no method that is more preferable than the other. Tolerance and then the subsequent healing process depend on the individual, the physician and the physician’s experience and technique. Dr. Schlessinger stresses that this area of dermatology is particularly variable, and that patients should bring up any questions or concerns with their physician.

Do you have a question for Dr. Schlessinger about biopsies? Let us know in the comments section.

Joel Schlessinger MD advises on how to avoid skin irritation

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Joel Schlessinger MD advises on how to avoid skin irritation

No matter what your skin type or concern, most people experience a bout of skin irritation at some point in their lives. When skin is irritated, the complexion usually becomes red, inflamed, flaky and itchy. There are a number of factors that can cause irritation and it can sometimes be difficult to determine the source. Here, Joel Schlessinger MD explains some common causes of aggravated skin and what you can do to minimize the symptoms.

Examining the products you use and your lifestyle can determine the cause of irritation, says Joel Schlessinger MD.

Certain products and ingredients may be the cause of your skin sensitivity and switching out these products for gentler formulas can relieve symptoms. A common ingredient found in many soaps, cleansers and other household items is sulfate. Sulfates can cause dryness, irritation and itching so stick with sulfate-free shampoos and cleansers.

Other household items such as laundry detergents and household cleaners can contain harsh chemicals, dyes and fragrances that aggravate skin. Choose formulas that are dye-free and fragrance-free to protect yourself.

One last item to examine when determining the cause of irritation is your clothing. Heavy and rough fabrics rub against skin causing itching, inflammation and redness. Choose lightweight, cotton fabrics that are loose-fitting to reduce the likelihood of irritation on the arms and legs.

Joel Schlessinger MD recommends his top products for reducing irritation.

Once your skin becomes irritated, there are products you can use to heal and soothe the area. FixMySkin Healing Body Balm Unscented with 1% Hydrocortisone contains a topical steroid that helps heal skin to relieve itching, inflammation and dryness.

A healthy skin barrier helps cells retain moisture, which prevents further irritation. Epionce Medical Barrier Cream is a daily moisturizer that strengthens this barrier to restore soft and smooth skin that is free of irritation.

Do you suffer from skin irritation? Ask Joel Schlessinger MD more questions on how to deal with this issue in the comments section.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger comments on the rise of plastic surgery due to selfies

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Dr. Joel Schlessinger comments on the rise of plastic surgery due to selfies

You can’t log in to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram without seeing at least one of your friends’ latest selfies. These self-portraits have become more and more popular due to the rise of smartphones and social media sites and are especially popular among teens and young adults. According to studies, there is also a connection between the rise of selfies and an increase in plastic surgeries. Dr. Joel Schlessinger shares an article from Reuters that explains the connection.

The 25% increase in surgeries may be influenced by the rise of selfies, explains Dr. Joel Schlessinger.

According to the article, there has been a 25% increase in requested surgeries such as rhinoplasty, hair transplants and eyelid lift surgeries over the past two and a half years. A poll by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery reveals that one in three surgeons have seen an increase in requests because patients are becoming more aware of their appearance on social media. Individuals are bombarded by pictures of themselves every day on social media sites, which make them more likely to notice what they would like to change about their appearance.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger cautions against using selfies to judge whether you need plastic surgery.

“I agree that this is probably a good reason for some people to consider cosmetic surgery,” says Dr. Joel Schlessinger. “On the other hand, it isn’t exactly a fair assessment of their face as selfies are often distorted.”

You should discuss with your doctor your options for cosmetic surgery and whether it is right for you. If you are not ready for a procedure, clean makeup and a hint of color to the lips and cheeks can make a big difference in how you look in your selfies.

Questions or comments for Dr. Joel Schlessinger? Ask him in the comments section!