Susan Van Dyke, M.D. on Her Personal Experience
I have been doing laser resurfacing for nearly 20 years now. In fact, I had the procedure done myself before I ever treated a patient. I was 41 years old and had just been diagnosed with skin cancer. Thankfully it was basal cell carcinoma, the most manageable of the skin cancers. Easily curable and rarely life threatening, this type of cancer is unlike the melanoma that my aunt just passed away from. Around the same time as my diagnosis, my mother had several basal cell cancers removed from her face, and by the time she passed away at the age of 77, she had over a dozen surgeries to remove the sun induced lesions.
This taught me an important lesson – prevention. I sought a way to immediately reduce the risk of contracting additional skin cancers on my face, and remove the sun damage and wrinkles that developed over the years. I decided to undergo laser resurfacing treatment, and decided to make it available to my patients. I flew to La Jolla, California and trained with two icons of laser treatments: Mitch Goldman, MD and Richard Fitzpatrick, MD. I returned to La Jolla a few weeks later and Dr. Fitzpatrick treated me.
At the time, laser resurfacing was harsh and the recovery long, but I never regretted the decision. Today, at the age of 57, I have yet to contract skin cancer on my face. My cosmetic improvement has been fantastic; sun damage and wrinkles gone. Since then, I have treated several hundred patients with amazing results.
Resurfacing fell out of favor for a few years; there was a search for easier ways to accomplish the same dramatic results. About 10 years ago the concept of fractional resurfacing developed and has since become the gold standard in resurfacing. In the last few years, the power of this technique combined with a much quicker recovery period is being appreciated. Active FX and Deep FX (when combined, the treatment is called Total FX) is the very latest in resurfacing. These are the two approaches that I now use at Van Dyke Laser & Skin. We also have Fraxel Dual (for lesser sun damaged skin) and Clear + Brilliant (for early stages of sun damage). With these tools and techniques, I can now give my patients a treatment that fits their needs
We have come a long way!