During my residency at Oregon Health & Sciences University and surgical fellowship at the University of California San Francisco, my time spent in the surgical unit was transformational as I observed how surgical scars influenced skin cancer survivors. I’ve performed thousands of surgeries and I recognize that every time I remove a patient’s skin cancer, I trade it for a scar.
This simple understanding along with my residency research on the quality of life in skin cancer survivors makes me especially cognizant of every suture I place. I work to minimize scarring as much as possible, but I know each scar will become part of my patient’s story and I want them to have something they are comfortable with, or even proud of.
The majority of dermatologists, including most of my colleagues at The Polyclinic, have a generalist practice, taking care of a broad range of skin, hair, and nail conditions and disorders.
My practice is unique in that I primarily practice surgical dermatology and manage care for high-risk skin cancer patients, including solid organ transplant recipients, those with previous skin cancers requiring more frequent visits, and melanoma survivors. I am committed to supporting patients through surgery and the post-operative period.
Research on Melanoma Survivors
My passion for understanding the patient experience as it relates to both the cosmetic outcome and the stigmatization of scars led me to focus on working with skin cancer survivors. I surveyed 700 melanoma survivors about their care and recovery and learned that everyone has a different perspective on their quality of life after a skin cancer diagnosis. Some proudly display their scars as a sign of survivorship. Others hide them and feel victimized by their experience with skin cancer.
In addition to my research, my love of photography led me to document melanoma survivors and their scars in a series of artistic photographs in an exhibition
titled the Melanoma SCAR Project, a display that is now permanently installed at OHSU in Portland. In contrast to the photos routinely taken of these patients in the clinical setting, I wanted my photos to serve as a positive tribute to their skin cancer journey. I remain incredibly grateful to those patients who shared their experiences so openly and memorably.
Surgical Procedures Performed
I perform a wide range of in-office procedures to treat patients with skin and nail abnormalities and biopsy- proven skin cancers that require excision, including:
- Melanomas on the face
- Melanomas not requiring a sentinel lymph node biopsy
- Atypical nevi
- Non-melanoma skin cancers
- Surgical excision of cysts, lipomas
- Cosmetic removal of nevi (including on the face)
- Nail avulsion and nail matrix biopsy for diagnostic purposes. (This is important when there is concern for a skin cancer or a benign growth under the nail or in the matrix).
- Consideration of systemic medications to help quell the incidence of skin cancers
If you have questions about surgical dermatology, Mohs surgery, or specific patient cases, feel free to contact me by phone at 206.860.4691