Patients come first at Austin Dermatology Center.
A member of the prestigious XIMED Medical Group of La Jolla, Bird Rock resident Dr. Erik Austin, a Harvard- and John Hopkins-trained osteopathic physician and surgeon, has had a full-service clinic open at 9333 Genesee Ave., Suite 250, since July 2.
The dermatology center treats a wide variety of maladies on an outpatient basis, everything from skin cancer and acne lesions to eczema, rashes and warts.
There are a number of things Austin prides himself on at his clinic. Not the least of which is the cutting-edge treatment he offers there. "I keep all my medical records electronically," he said. "If I need to print out a prescription, or call up a patient's chart, it's all right here on the computer. All I have to do is click a couple buttons."
Discussing what's unique about the osteopathic approach he uses, Austin noted it looks at the whole person, not just the specific condition or disease they have, but how it interrelates to other (body) processes. "It's a more whole-person perspective, more complete care," he said.
Typically, 12 years of training are completed by both osteopathic, D.O., and allopathic, M.D., physicians. Both D.O.'s and M.D.'s can train in any specialty of medicine. Often, they train side by side in the same hospitals.
Ostopathic physicians, however, tend to take a more holistic approach to medical problems, by looking at the entirety of their patient's experience - their lifestyle, health-risk factors, environmental stressors and toxins, etc. Similarly, treatment is holistic and a multifactor approach is used.
Besides traditional dermatological conditions, Austin Dermatology Center also offers a full range of cosmetic services including laser skin rejuvenation and skin tightening, cosmetic peels, laser hair removal and cosmetic fillers such as Restylane, as well as Botox for facial, forehead and neck wrinkles and for headache treatment.
Austin said one of the most frequent conditions he treats is acne, which can manifest itself long past adolescence, the time of its greatest prevalence.
There a number of ways to successfully treat acne - topical solutions, oral antibiotics, peels, etc. Austin however stressed there are no quick fixes for the skin condition.
"It requires daily treatment," he pointed out. "A lot of people think you can treat it for awhile and take days or weeks off, but acne will flair up again. It takes as little as 24 hours for an acne lesion to form."
Austin said you have to continually combat the two factors that cause acne by eliminating harmful bacteria, and by keeping skin pores from closing up, which leads to the onset of the condition. "Treatment needs to be daily to keep it under control," Austin said.
But what Austin is most proud of about his practice is how he can diagnose and treat skin cancer in all its various forms. He's offering free skin cancer screening exams now until the end of September. He employs a new technological process called Dermascopy. Using a hand-held device, much like a mini microscope, Austin can view and evaluate suspicious skin markings.
Austin advises people with multiple risk factors for skin cancer - fair skin, hair and eye color, past incidents or a family history of the condition - to come in every six months to get checked out. He talked about things people should watch out for with the onset of the disease.
"Certain people have moles that are a bit atypical," he said. "These can be skin cancer. If I see any suspicious moles, I use Dermascopy to take a closer look, to evaluate. People should look for changes in moles, things getting bigger, darker, changing color, growing in size."
But, cautioned Austin, "Melanoma (skin cancer) can look very subtle on the skin."
Austin stressed that people should be careful about who treats their skin. He said they should ensure that whoever delivers skin care to them is a medical physician with proper training. "Primary-care doctors are able to do screenings," added Austin, "but the best screenings are by a specialist in dermatology who has years of training."
Austin gave an example of a patient he successfully treated for skin cancer while working in Dallas, Texas. He said the patient had been treated at a spa by a non-physician to remove what was then believed to be a sunspot. "The spot came back," said Austin, "and they had it biopsied and sent to a lab and, sure enough, it came back as skin cancer, melanoma, one of the most deadly types. We did catch it early enough, were able to treat it."
But, noted Austin, it was an instance where a patient had been receiving cosmetic beauty treatment, when they really needed to be getting skin-cancer treatment.
Austin is also trained in environmental medicine, which he finds complements dermatology nicely, as many skin conditions have an allergic component directly traceable back to their work or home environment. Acting much like a detective, Austin can perform exhaustive tests which reveal what chemicals, cosmetics, fragrances, metals, dyes and other substances may be causing a patient's skin problems. "These tests uncover specific allergens and irritants that may be causing hives, skin rashes and other conditions, even sinus congestion and headaches," noted Austin.
There's one other thing Austin takes pride in at his medical clinic. "We don't sell any products here," he said. "We only use prescription-based medications."
Austin summed up his personal philosophy on medical practice. "We desire satisfied, healthy and loyal patients," he said. "We consider ourselves lucky to be practicing dermatology. We have the daily opportunity to provide relief and happiness to our patients. We seek to have an educational component to our practice where we teach our patients key components of their dermatological care and their overall wellness. We take an environmental approach and a holistic approach to health care. We care about and nurture our patients. We seek to treat patients as we would our own family."
For more information about Austin Dermatology Center, or for an appointment or free screening, call (858) 622-1960.