What can I expect during a complete skin exam? -Anne Marie McNeill M.D., Ph.D

For most people, dermatologists recommend a yearly skin exam. The purpose is to find skin cancers or pre-cancers at the earliest stage. Some patients are at higher risk for skin cancer, and we screen them more often. For example, for patients with a history of basal cell carcinoma (BCC) or squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), we examine every 6 months. For patients with a history of malignant melanoma, we screen them every 3 months.
At NBDPS, screening skin exams are performed by Dr. McNeill, Michele Westendorf NP-C, or Jennifer Moller PA-C. A skin exam is similar for most patients. We recommend completely disrobing prior to the exam, and we provide a comfortable cloth gown for you during your exam. In general, we will start with the patient laying face up. We use lighted magnification to examine the body closely. We start with the face, ears front of scalp and neck, examining this area extremely carefully as this has the highest incidence of BCC and SCC.
Next the rest of the front of the body is examined. Some patients are uncomfortable with the genital area being examined. This is part of your skin and medically it is best to have it examined. However we are not going to force you if you decline! We will also examine your feet and between your toes, so make sure to remove your socks.
During the exam, if any suspicious lesions are noted, we will point them out and discuss the best course to take. Often we do a biopsy if warranted that day. However, some patients have social obligations and would prefer to reschedule the biopsy, and that is OK too. Sometimes we freeze precancerous spots with liquid nitrogen.
The patient is welcome to point out areas they are concerned about. Some patients even come in with circles around spots they are concerned about, so they don’t forget! That is fine as well.
Then the patient will tun onto their stomach and face down. Your backside will be draped as to not make you feel too “exposed.” The backside of the patient is examined, and the rest of the scalp. Sometimes, depending on the height of the patient and orientation of the room, we suggest that the patient sit up for the scalp exam.
And that’s it! It does not take long. Also, if you have other concerns (skin tags, wrinkles, questions about sunscreen and skin care), we can generally address these during a skin exam. If you are interested in pursing cosmetic treatments that day such as lasers or botox or fillers, or a plastic surgery consult with Dr. Christopher Ellstrom, please let us know so we can schedule you accordingly.
We all work together at NBDPS. Our NP and PA are more than qualified to perform screening skin exams, biopsies, injectables, and most laser treatments along with Dr. McNeill. We each have procedures that we specialize in and will often refer patients to each other in order to best meet our patients’ needs.
In general, if a biopsy is done, the results are generally available to you within 1-2 weeks. We will let you know what the result was, and based on that if any further treatment is necessary.
For excisions or Mohs surgery or cosmetic problems that are best addressed surgically, we will partner with our expert Plastic Surgeon Dr. Christopher Ellstrom to give you the most natural-appearing result.
We understand that living in Newport Beach is beautiful, but the year-round sun can take it’s toll on your skin. We offer every solution available, both medical and cosmetic, to give you the best result possible.

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