November 13, 2018

What I learned from My First Dermatologist Visit in my 30s

what to expect from your first dermatologist visit.

what to expect from your first dermatologist visit. When the kids started school this year, I wrote down my goals and things that needed to get done by the end of year.  Included on the list, was a dermatologist visit. As someone who grew up in New Jersey where tanning beds were prevalent for the colder months and the shore is where you lived in the summer, I wanted to assess what damage had been done.  Or even more frighteningly, if there was any cause for a real concern.

I’m not trying to be dramatic, but the hard truth is that melanoma is on the rise and is one of the most common cancers in young women.  It’s more prevalent in white women.  So for someone who thought I just needed to “get my first burn” to tan, or allow my freckles to combine together, I did not have a healthy approach to skin care in my youth.  Additionally, my dad found a suspicious mole on his ear that thankfully was benign. All the more reasons to play it safe and schedule a check up.

My Dermatologist Visit

First Dermatologist visit to Skin DC in Arlington VA

After looking around for an office, I choose Skin DC in Arlington.  The reviews on Google were great, the website looked more than profess, and while following them on Instagram,  I learned Dr. Naga had been named one of DC’s Top Doctors by Washingtonian Mag.  Plus, as a bonus, the location is really close to Jeff’s office.  I booked my appointment easily online and was ready to find out more.

On the big day, I arrived at the clean and modern office and checked in.  When my name was called, it was go time.  Now let me be transparent and let you know I scheduled two seperate appointments:  One was a medical exam where a doctor would review my entire body from scalp to toes checking for any skin issues.  The second part, with Dr. Naga, was a cosmetic consultation.  Now in my thirties, I want to explore options for preventative skin aging.  The first appointment was covered by insurance as this office was in network for us { I would check with your health care provider for yourself}. The second “optional” one was not and I received a discount as part of this post.

First,  we had to learn a little more about my background and get a good assessment of my skin.  I had to answer some pretty standard questions. Like, does skin cancer run in my family, skin concerns I have, prescriptions I take, etc.  Once the questions were over, I realizedI made a rookie mistake and wore makeup, which had to be removed to move on to the next step.  I the went into a room and took some pictures with various facial expressions.  It was a little difficult keeping a straight face – I kept thinking about the hysterical faces my kids made while taking their passport photos a few days ago.  Then came the real deal.  I placed my face onto a machine which took pictures of my skin from all angles.  This device evaluates the photos and gives a detailed report on the state of your face. It’s a pretty vulnerable moment, but I came to better understand myself, to make decisions going forward.

After that, I was ready for my exam and consultant.  Here’s what happened next….

The Good News and the Bad News

Let’s start with the great news first:  I don’t have skin cancer.  All my moles, freckles, inverted freckles {yes, that’s a thing}, and more were totally fine.  Yay!  To keep this up, I need to continue with daily SPF, an SPF of 30 while in the direct sun, wear hats/get shade time and make an appointment every 1-2 years.

Now the good news.  You know that machine I spoke about.  This may be crazy of me, but I’m sharing my facial results. One of the data points it provides is your skin’s ACTUAL age vs. your CURRENT age.  I’m going to be 39 at the end of the week, but my skin is actually 35.  A few things on this.  One, the technicians at the office were really excited for me.  They told me it’s pretty rare to get a younger skin age.  I even asked if anyone cried after seeing their number {the answer: yes}.  Two, it’s not all good news, which leads me to the bad news.

First Dermatologist visit: my skin results. What I learned

I have extensive sun damage.  Not a shock, but it was still hard to swallow. On the different metrics your skin is evaluated on, you receive a number.  The higher the number the better.  What is means is that, for example, if your PORES score comes back at 91%, that means your pores are better than 91% of the people your age, or only 9% are in a better position than you.  So those lower numbers in my UV Spots {15%}, Brown Spots { 4%} and red areas {25%} represent the damage the sun has caused on my face.

My takeaway from all this is that while I spent my younger years damaging my skin, the commitment to taking care of my skin now with safer, cleaner, better skincare products has offset some of the bad.  Which gets to me a younger skin age than my actual age.

What’s Next

While I feel even more satisfied with my current skincare routine, there is no cream, lotion, serum that will erase all that sun damage.  So in my consultation with Dr. Naga, she laid out a few options for me.  Yes, one of the options was Botox.  While this produces the most visibly immediate results, I just don’t feel comfortable with needles in my face. Personally, I also don’t feel like it aligns with my core beliefs of using mostly non-toxic products.{hello, it’s a toxin botulism}.  Dr.  Naga understood and we discussed a few alternatives that included laser treatment.  I’m still weighing in on what my next steps are, but I do think there are some great options for me.

Why You Should Make a Dermatologist Visit

It’s worth repeating that skin cancer is on the rise.  Taking the time to put your health as a priority is the ultimate self care.  If you’re in the DC area, check out Skin DC!  Or ask your friends who they use.  In the meantime, keep wearing SPF and protect your body’s largest organ.  Healthy is more beautiful than a tan.

Check out my post on Sunscreen and let me know your experiences at the Dermatologist below!

Sun Safety:

My Outfit Above:



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