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Total body photography and total body skin checks – your skinzurance ®

Dermoscopy and skin screening

Although I had a special interest in skin cancer as a teaching hospital consultant in London, and I worked in a unit serving a population greater than that of New Zealand, I had no idea of the depth and severity of sun damage that would meet me when I arrived here in 2009.

In London I worked within a multidisciplinary team that included dermatologists ands I  had the luxury of being able to wander up the corridor to ask one of them to brandish a dermoscope  during clinics if I had a patient with a skin lesion of which I wasn’t sure.  A  dermoscope is a hand-held microscope that turns skin lesion diagnosis from a bit of an art based on experience and an educated hunch, into a much more scientific and precise process.

Here, I work alone, and skin lesions that may be be sinister, but aren’t clearly so, are too frequent in my practice not to be able to brandish a dermoscope expertly myself; because the alternative would be to cut out many more lesions than need be removed, simply in order not to miss anything.

I enrolled on the course generally perceived to be the best and as distance-learning, postgraduate student, I studied dermoscopy through the Dermatology department of the Medical University of Graz, in Austria, gaining my diploma with distinction in 2015.  I continue to study the subject through the same department and I am currently registered for the Academic Expert Course.

In the new rooms at 11-13 Roulston Street, I am expanding my service.  I have a purpose-built room for total body photography and skin examination and I have trained staff to capture total body studies and dermoscopic images of suspicious individual lesions as well as any that have changed since the last examination (as assessed by AI comparison serial pictures).  In this way, I can offer a much more efficient and comprehensive service at the same price.

Patients will also now have a record that is easily transferred to another clinic if they relocate so their care and assessment of any changes will be seamless life-long.

Do I need a skin check? and if I do, how often should I have one?

Most white-skinned people in New Zealand – especially those who have grown up and lived till middle-age here – should consider the benefits of having a comprehensive skin check each year.

If you had 5 episodes of sun burn that simply left you peeling before you turned 16, your relative risk for melanoma over a lifetime is double that of someone who didn’t suffer those sun burns.

If you have more than 100 moles your life-time risk of developing melanoma is raised significantly.

If you have 1 first degree relative (brother, sister, mother or father) who has had melanoma or any relative who had a melanoma before they turned 30, your risk is significant and you should be screened regularly.

If you’ve already had 1 melanoma, then your risk of second melanoma goes up 9 fold and you should be screened 3-monthly for the first 2 years and after that, it depends on how thick your melanoma was, but at least annually life-long.

People who live alone, especially those over 50 (who are already more at risk because risk rises with age) should be screened because self-monitoring your own back is impracticable.

Having your skin checked

Whether you’ve noticed one area of your skin change recently and what reassurance about that specifically, or whether you’d like the peace of mid that comes from having an expert assessment of all your skin – from scalp to soles of feet including your back and those bits you can’t see properly even by twisting and turning with a strategically placed mirror, our service is here for you and priced so that you can chose.