It Points to Tanning

Lexington Dermatologist looks to tanning for increased melanomas in college age patients

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LEXINGTON The amount of college age patients coming to see Lexington dermatologist Erika N. Music, MD, has been steadily increasing. “We’re seeing an explosion of melanoma in patients in their 20’s or even younger,” says Music. “It’s unbelievable the extent of skin cancer we’re seeing in patients at such a young age. I think much of it is tanning bed related,” she says. This sudden increase has dermatologists at Dermatology Consultants encouraging their patients to stop the use of tanning beds right away.

In March 2012, the Kentucky House of Representatives approved House Bill 249 limiting the use of tanning beds for teenagers under the age of 18 without written permission from their parent.

Music, a native of Lexington, received her medical degree from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. She mentored under dermatologist Martha Post, MD, throughout her high school and college studies. Music was encouraged by Post to consider dermatology due to its flexible hours and family-friendly schedule. Music completed her dermatology residency at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. In 2010 Music returned to Lexington and joined Dermatology Consultants.

Dermatology Consultants was founded in 1976 by Joseph P. Bark, MD, and now has offices in Lexington and Richmond, Kentucky. Other providers in the practice include Kelli Greer Webb, MD, Ryan Filiatreau, PA-C, and Samantha Stratton, PA-C. Music was familiar with Bark’s reputation of giving quality care in a friendly, professional environment for patients and staff alike. “He’s great. He’s been an excellent mentor for me, and everyone here really enjoys working with him,” says Music.

Current Trends in Dermatology

As time passes and technology develops, the field of medicine advances as well. Dermatology is no exception. In today’s society, the ideas of gradual, natural results with less downtime have gained popularity and have patients looking for prevention of skin disease and aging. Lately the practice of skin tightening and fat reduction is growing in popularity among patients. Also increasing is the use of teledermatology, treatment over the internet. Music explains that she has had patients email her photos of the affected areas, and she can give them diagnostic information quicker.

The technology in the office has kept pace as well. Examples at Dermatology Consultants are Exilis®, a radio frequency device that delivers thermal energy and heat to targeted areas for fat loss and skin tightening, and Sculptra®, an injectable that helps the body form its own collagen and restore lost volume that results from aging. They also are using a new laser to treat wrinkles around the eyes and lips.

Despite the trend of younger patients, Music still regularly sees patients of all ages, showing that dermatology is more than just treating acne. “That’s one of the many positives about dermatology, you can see pretty much any age,” she says. “I always liked that it didn’t tie you down to one age group or sex.”

The providers at Dermatology Consultants most commonly diagnose skin cancer at an early stage however they often see more advanced cases in more rural locations, such as Cynthiana and Richmond. Music says that she sees patients with melanoma or other types of skin cancer that have been untreated for years due to restricted healthcare or lack of awareness.

Music emphasizes that dermatology is more than cosmetics and superficial work. The skin can help indicate a bigger problem. “The skin is the window to a patient’s internal health. I have seen patients present with a new rash and they were diagnosed with cancer later,” she says. It’s that principle of caring for a person’s overall well-being that keeps Music coming to work and enjoying her job. “I enjoy everyday getting to meet new people. I have formed great relationships with patients; it’s so satisfying to hear someone say, ‘You saved my life.’ That’s why I do it, to help people and improve their lives.

THE SKIN IS THE WINDOW TO A PATIENT’S INTERNAL HEALTH.– DR. ERICA N. MUSIC