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  • The Benefits of Intense Pulsed Light Laser Treatments

    Intense pulsed light therapy, also known as IPL is a dermatological cosmetic treatment that can effectively reduce the appearance of vascular lesions, age spots, freckles, fine lines and wrinkles and unwanted dark hair.

    How Does Intense Pulsed Light Therapy Work?

    IPL uses high-energy pulses of light that are converted into heat energy and then absorbed by specific cells in the lower layers of the skin. Most intense pulsed light systems produce different wavelengths of light so that the treatment can be customized to the area and issue being treated.

    Issues Treated With Intense Pulsed Light Therapy:

    • IPL can reduce the appearance of vascular birthmarks and spider veins by targeting the red pigment in the blood without damaging the skin or surrounding tissue.
    • IPL can be targeted at the melanin-producing cells on the surface of the skin to remove discoloration caused by melasma, birthmarks, freckles, and age spots.
    • IPL can be directed at the hair follicles on the face, neck, back, chest, underarms, and bikini line to eliminate unwanted hair. The treatment is most effective on dark hair.

    What to Expect:

    IPL treatment should only be performed by an expert in cosmetic dermatology. Treatment sessions typically last approximately 20 minutes. Most patients require a series of four to six sessions spaced over several weeks to achieve the desired results. A gel is applied to the skin at the area to be treated. The treatment head of the IPL device, which is a smooth, glass surface, is applied to the area to deliver the light pulses. Most patients describe the sensation of the light pulses as similar to being snapped with a rubber band or a light pinch. Since IPL dermatology treatment is non-invasive and does not damage the surface of the skin, patients are able to resume their normal activities immediately.

  • Hemangiomas & Infants, Toddlers and Babies

    Hemangiomas are benign tumors comprised of a tangled mass of blood vessels. They are most common in Caucasian infants, especially fair-skinned females. The exact cause of hemangiomas is not known; however, they do not appear to be associated with heredity, environmental factors, or activities during pregnancy.

    Signs and Symptoms of Hemangiomas:

    Most infants develop hemangiomas within two weeks to four months following birth. Approximately 60 percent of hemangiomas develop on the surface of the skin on the head or neck; however, they can also occur on the trunk, arms, legs, or even in an internal organ. Only about 20 percent of infants develop multiple hemangiomas. These infants have a greater likelihood of also having a hemangioma involving an internal organ. If the hemangioma develops along the spine, the child should be evaluated for possible spinal malformations.

    Potential Complications:

    While most hemangiomas are harmless and fade with age, the size and location of the growth may cause difficulty with breathing or vision. Hemangiomas affecting the internal organs have the potential to cause various complications depending on the organ affected. In very rare cases, the skin around the hemangioma can stretch and leave a wound or scab.

    It is not unusual for extra blood vessels, skin, or fatty tissue to remain even after the hemangioma has faded. Orange County parents of children with large or disfiguring hemangiomas should consult a board-certified dermatologist at OC Skin Institute to find out the most appropriate method of correcting cosmetic issues and reducing the possibility of future complications.

  • What You Can Do About Alopecia Hair Loss

    While there are no Food and Drug Administration-approved treatments for hair loss caused by alopecia, a variety of drugs approved for other conditions may help some patients with alopecia slow the rate of hair loss and even regrow hair.

    Corticosteroid Injections:

    The corticosteroids are injected directly into the bald patches of skin every four to six weeks. The injections do not stop additional hair loss but may stimulate regrowth in as little as four weeks.

    Topical Minoxidil:

    This treatment involves applying the minoxidil solution to the scalp a couple of times a day to stimulate hair growth. While the treatment is easy to use and has minimal side effects, it generally is not effective unless combined with topical corticosteroid medications.

    Anthralin Ointment or Cream:

    Anthralin is normally used to treat psoriasis, but it may also stimulate hair growth in alopecia patients with two to three months of continuous usage. The tar-like substance is applied to the bald areas of skin once a day and then washed off within 30 to 60 minutes. The medication may cause temporary skin irritation or discoloration.

    Topical Corticosteroids:

    Topical corticosteroids come in a variety of forms and strengths and can help decrease the inflammation around hair follicles that can lead to hair loss. Although the effectiveness of the medication is based on how well it is absorbed into the scalp, most patients experience a decrease in hair loss and hair regrowth of about 25 percent.

    Oral Corticosteroids:

    Oral corticosteroids may help slow extensive hair loss and promote hair regrowth by suppressing the disease activity or immune response triggering the alopecia. As a general rule, oral corticosteroids are only taken for short periods of time, since they can cause serious side effects.

    Topical Immunotherapy:

    Squaric acid dibutyl ester, diphencyprone, or dinitrochlorobenzene may be applied directly to the scalp in order to modify the immune response triggering the hair loss. As many as 40 percent of patients regrow hair within six months when using this treatment. Topical immunotherapy is not as widely available as other treatments and typically causes a poison ivy-like rash at the application site.


    Immunotherapy drugs, including ruxolitinib and tofacitinib commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and certain blood disorders, have shown promise in helping patients with extensive hair loss regrow hair. The drugs are currently in clinical trials to determine their efficacy and safety in the long-term treatment of alopecia.

    Regardless of the treatment used, it is possible for the hair loss to return once the treatment is discontinued. Patients should consult a board-certified dermatologist to determine the most appropriate treatment for their circumstances.

    If you are interested in learning more about how to prevent hair loss in its initial stages or feel like you missed the boat, do not hesitate. Contact OC Skin Institute as our team and board-certified dermatologist can help combat the effects of hair loss, no matter the stage.

  • XTRAC Laser for Psoriasis Treatment

    At OC Skin Institute, our team of professionals and board-certified dermatologist Dr. Tony Nakhla routinely use the XTRAC laser to treat psoriasis. During this therapy, a laser penetrates the skin to break up the cells that form plaque. The laser transmits an ultraviolet light to treat psoriasis lesions. Since the XTRAC device is small, we perform this treatment in our office. Those who undergo this laser treatment often have long periods of remission between outbreaks.

    How is XTRAC Therapy Beneficial?

    Each laser therapy session only takes a few minutes to complete. Dr. Nakhla targets specific regions of the skin, which means that patients do not need to worry about the laser affecting or spreading to other areas of the skin. XTRAC laser therapy can treat psoriasis spots faster than artificial UV light. The laser is even effective on areas that are difficult to treat. For example, it is commonly used to treat psoriasis on the knees, elbows and scalp.

    Are There Any Side Effects?

    The side effects are usually minimal. Those who undergo this form of laser therapy may experience redness, blistering and itching. Some patients may also experience a burning sensation or an increase in pigmentation.

    What are the Risks?

    Researchers have yet to identify any medical risks. With that said, doctors do not recommend this treatment for those who have lupus or a history of skin cancer. Those who are pregnant should wait until their baby is born before undergoing XTRAC laser therapy. Some patients are highly sensitive to light. In these cases, the dermatologist can use a lower dose to treat the patient.

    The Treatment Process

    Treatment time varies based on each patient’s skin type and severity of skin lesions. Some patients may need to undergo multiple treatment sessions. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, most patients need two to three treatments per week. Doctors prefer waiting at least 48 hours between each therapy session. Most patients need 10 to 12 treatment sessions to clear their psoriasis. Some patients notice results after a single session.

  • Kybella Injections for Fat Under the Chin

    The dreaded double chin is a reality of aging for many of us. As we age, our bodies tend to deposit fat in the submental area beneath the chin, producing a rounded, sagging mass. In the past, people have tried double chin treatments ranging including bandages, massage and jaw exercises, but surgery was the only reliable solution.

    Yet, another cosmetic treatment for double chins is now available. Kybella (deoxycholic acid) is an injectable treatment that attacks under-chin fat directly, eventually melting it away and restoring the smooth contours of the chin and jaw.

    How Does Kybella Work?

    Kybella’s active component, deoxycholic acid, is a synthetic version of an acid your digestive system normally produces to break down fat. When injected into the submental chin deposit, it destroys the membranes of fat cells, causing them to literally melt and be reabsorbed by the body.

    Note that Kybella only treats fat deposits. It does not do anything for loose skin, obvious tendons and veins, or other cosmetic problems that may appear in the chin and neck area. Further cosmetic treatment, such as Botox, may be needed to get the best-looking chin and neck possible.

    How Is Kybella Administered?

    A session of Kybella treatment usually involves several subcutaneous injections with a light needle. This can take up to 15 or 20 minutes. Topical anesthesia or sedative may be used if the patient finds the process uncomfortable.

    Usually, more than one session is necessary to completely achieve the desired results. No more than six sessions should be required, however. Sessions are scheduled 1-2 months apart, and can be arranged as necessary for the patient’s convenience.

    Side effects can include light bruising at the injection site, numbness, and temporary hardening of the skin. These are usually not serious and go away on their own in a few days. More serious side effects, such as difficulty swallowing or weakness of the facial muscles that produces an uneven smile, are rare but possible.

  • Tests for Detecting Melanoma

    If you or your physician notice an unusual spot on your body that might be a sign of melanoma, there are a number of tests and questions that you will need to go through. These will help confirm or disprove a skin cancer diagnosis. The usual procedure is as follows:

    • Questions about symptoms. The doctor will ask you whether you remember when the possible melanoma appeared and whether you have noticed any change. You will also be asked about any cancer risk factors. These can include high exposure to sunlight, a family history of cancer, or previous cancerous growths on the skin.
    • Physical examination. The doctor will note the appearance of the potential melanoma and examine it with a magnifying lens called a dermatoscope. He or she may examine the rest of your body for other possible melanomas. The doctor may ask to feel your lymph nodes, which are clusters of small cells in your neck, armpits, and groin. When cancer spreads, it often does so through the lymph nodes, so swollen lymph nodes are a potential trouble sign.
    • Biopsies. If the doctor suspects melanoma, the next step is to remove some of the suspicious area and have it laboratory tested. This is referred to as a skin biopsy. When performed by a board-certified dermatologist, biopsies are simple and painless. Local anesthesia will be used to numb the area. There are several ways to perform a biopsy. The doctor may remove part of the affected skin with a scalpel or shaver. A punch can also be used to take a deeper sample of the affected skin. In some cases, the biopsy can even be performed directly on the body, without having to remove any skin.

    If the melanoma has already spread inside the body, more complex biopsy procedures may be needed. A fine needle can be used to remove cells from lymph nodes or tumors inside the body for examination. A more complex method, sentinel lymph node biopsy, tracks the
    spread of cancerous cells in the lymphatic system using radioactive dye. In especially serious cases, the doctor may order surgery to remove tumors or lymph nodes for direct examination

    The material collected from a biopsy will be sent to a laboratory for examination by a pathologist. If melanoma cells are detected, the pathologist will determine the stage of the cancer. This will enable the treating doctor to decide on a course of action.

  • How Ringworm is Ruled Out

    Ringworm is a fungal infection that occurs when parasites known as dermatophytes attack the keratin tissue of the skin or nails. Ringworm is easily spread by contact with soil, objects, animals, or people infected with the parasite.

    Types of Ringworm:

    The medical term used to identify the infection varies based on the part of the body affected.

    • Tinea capitis refers to infections of the scalp.
    • Tinea corporis refers to infections of the body.
    • Tinea pedis, commonly known as athlete’s foot, refers to infections of the feet.
    • Tinea cruris, commonly known as jock itch, refers to infections of the groin.

    Symptoms of Ringworm:

    The condition gets its name from the characteristic lesions that appear on the affected area of skin. The lesion typically starts as a flat, scaly area that is usually red and very itchy. The area slowly expands to create a tell-tale circular ring of red blisters resembling a worm or snake. The interior of the ring often remains pale and flaky. Anyone with a rash that does not resolve within a couple of weeks should see a dermatology professional at OC Skin Institute for diagnosis and treatment.

    How Ringworm Is Diagnosed and Treated:

    A board-certified dermatologist will typically diagnose the condition simply by visual examination. In some cases, it may be necessary to rule out other skin conditions, such as other types of fungal infections, psoriasis, or seborrhea. In these instances, small scrapings may be taken from the affected area to prepare a culture that is then examined under a microscope for the presence of the parasite. Less frequently, an ultraviolet light known as a Wood’s lamp may be used to show the presence of fungi in the skin or nail samples.

    The treatment of ringworm normally involves over-the-counter antifungal creams or lotions. In cases where these treatments are unsuccessful, a dermatologist may prescribe oral antifungal medications.

    Contact us at OC Skin Institute if you believe you have a fungal infection or ringworm.

  • The Importance of Hydrated Skin

    Everyone knows, or should know, the benefits of staying properly hydrated: keeping energy up, losing weight, improving brain function and more. But do you know that getting enough water can be vital to healthy-looking skin?

    The Skin Dangers of Being Dehydrated

    When you don’t drink water, your body becomes dehydrated and that is reflected in your skin. Dry skin is less elastic than normal skin, so it’s at greater risk of developing cracks and wrinkles.

    Dryness can also make your skin look dull, removing the facial glow that healthy skin produces. It can also become flaky and itchy, especially in the winter when the air is dry as well. Cracked, flaky skin does a poor job of keeping potentially hostile microorganisms out of your body causing a greater risk of developing skin infections.

    Being dehydrated also has negative effects beneath your skin. Your body’s production of collagen, the connective tissue that makes skin look full and soft, requires water. Without collagen, your skin can lose volume and sag. Once that occurs, individuals would opt for facial and dermal fillers to create volume and fullness where it is lacking. For example, your board-certified dermatologist will select from a variety of fillers depending on the treatment area and the depth of the crease and amount of volume loss in the face. Some studies show that the production of sebum, or skin oil, also depends on proper water intake to operate properly. If your skin is dry, your oil glands may overproduce sebum to compensate, increasing the risk of clogged pores and/or acne breakouts.

    How to Get Enough Water

    Ideally, you should aim to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily. A refillable water bottle is a great way to work toward this goal, because you can drink whenever you feel like it. Alternatively, try to include a glass of water every time you eat.

    Also, be sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables! Foods such as spinach, broccoli, carrots, and peppers are very high in water content and can help keep you well hydrated.

    Being sure you get your daily water is an important step to a healthy lifestyle. You’ll see the difference quickly as you feel more energetic and your skin softens and brightens, producing the facial glow of youth.

  • Treatments for Sun Damaged Skin

    Today, we know the importance of avoiding sun exposure to halt premature aging, skin cancer, and other forms of skin damage. But still, many people receive too much sun exposure, whether because of lifestyle, the environment, or simply not knowing how to properly prevent dangerous and excessive sun exposure without the appropriate precautions. Even if your skin has been damaged by the sun, a board-certified dermatologist at OC Skin Institute can help you reduce and reverse the effects of overexposure.

    There are a wide variety of choices in treating sun damaged skin. Your doctor will help you determine which will work best for you, based on your skin type and the nature of the damage. The methods and cosmetic procedures range from injectables to laser treatment.

    Treating Sun Damage By Removing Skin Layers

    Several types of cosmetic treatments for sun damaged skin work by removing the upper layers of the skin and allowing fresher, undamaged skin to grow from below. These include dermabrasion, in which the skin is removed mechanically; chemical peels which use chemicals to loosen and exfoliate the damaged skin; and laser resurfacing, which uses a laser to remove damaged skin and stimulate the regrowth of new skin. All of these, however, involve some level of injury to the skin and healing time afterward. Lasers are usually the least injuring because they can be used with greater precision than the other methods.

    There are milder forms of the above treatments that do not involve as much healing, but they usually require several treatments to have full effect. These include microdermabrasion, light chemical peels, and fractional lasers, such as a fractional C02 laser.

    Reducing the Appearance of Sun Damage

    Another form of cosmetic treatments for sun damaged skin involves reducing the appearance of wrinkles caused by the sun.

    Facial fillers reduce wrinkles by adding volume and hydration to the skin, tightening it and smoothing out wrinkles. Similarly, Botox is a widely used cosmetic method to reduce wrinkles by reducing the mobility of the skin and preventing deeper creases from forming. Specifically, botox is a toxin that paralyzes and relaxing the muscles that cause facial movement. Although these methods are less effective than removing the sun damaged skin itself, and require repeated applications to maintain benefits, they’re much easier and quicker to apply.

    If your skin is showing signs of sun damage, talk to your board-certified dermatologist to develop a treatment plan. And of course, remember to protect your skin when you’re out in the sunlight!

  • Natural & Synthetic Facial Fillers

    Facial or dermal fillers are a type of cosmetic procedure used to rejuvenate skin that has begun to sag and lose volume due to age. They can provide targeted fullness and support for loose skin, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

    When injected by a board-certified dermatologist, these fillers are easy, safe, with immediate results compared to surgery. But it’s important to choose the right type of facial filler for your case. Here are the facts.

    Dermal fillers can be divided into two types: natural and synthetic. Natural fillers, such as Restylane, Juvederm, and Perlane, are made with substances your body naturally produces, such as collagen or hyaluronic acid. While they produce a more natural look and have lower risk of side effects, they do break down eventually and have to be renewed.

    Synthetic fillers such as Sculptra and Radiesse give long-lasting results, and are usually referred to as “semi-permanent.” They still require occasional touch-ups, however.

    What Areas Are Ideal for Fillers?

    Facial filler can be added anywhere in the face. However, they’re most commonly used for nasiolabial folds (the lines that run from the nose to the corners of the mouth). They are also frequently used in the lip area to fill out the lips and erase lines around the mouth. They can also be used in hollows beneath the eyes, to improve the shape of the cheeks and jaw, and to reduce the appearance of scars such as acne and chicken pox scars.

    How Are Fillers Applied?

    OC Skin Institute’s board-certified dermatologists can inject fillers right here in our office. No anesthesia is necessary, although a topical numbing cream may be used to reduce discomfort. The injections should take no more than an hour, and results will be immediately visible.

    There may be some swelling around the injection site, but it should not last long. There is a slight risk of infection or allergic reaction, but much less than with surgery.

    How Often Should Fillers Be Re-injected?

    Natural fillers require steady upkeep in order to maintain their appearance as they break down. The rate of breakdown depends on where the filler is injected and your body chemistry, but natural fillers usually last anywhere from three months to a year. Most dermatologists recommend injections twice a year when you first get dermal fillers, and once a year after they’ve had a chance to build up.

    Botox, another common cosmetic procedure, can also help make natural fillers last longer and complements it well. Contact OC Skin Institute today to schedule your consultation if you are interested in non-surgical cosmetic procedures like fillers and Botox.