Dr. Deborah Zell joined U.S. Dermatology Partners, formerly Beatrice Keller Clinic Dermatology, in 2015 and specializes in Mohs Micrographic Surgery and Procedural Dermatology. She has a double major in Mathematics and Chemistry that she earned from Tulane University with the Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude honors. She also earned the prestigious President’s Award and served as Undergraduate Student Body President. She went on to Medical School at Tulane as well, after which she served her Internal Medicine internship in New Orleans at Charity Hospital, University Hospital, Tulane University Medical Center and the Veterans Affairs Hospital.
Dr. Deborah Zell completed her dermatology residency at the University of Miami where she also served as a clinical research fellow in the Department of Dermatology. While there, she initiated, managed and conducted fourteen clinical trials focusing primarily on scarring and keloids, and earned the Surgical Award and the Kramer Research Award two years in a row.
Dr. Deborah Zell went on to earn the coveted Mohs Micrographic Surgery Fellowship under the guidance of Dr. Daniel Siegel in New York, where she also performed surgery at the State University of New York (SUNY) – Downstate, the Veterans Affairs Harbor Hospital in Brooklyn and in private practice.
Dr. Deborah Zell has appeared as a lecturer at SUNY Downstate, authored numerous dermatologic articles and textbook chapters, and often serves as a peer reviewer for her fellow medical authors. She is an active member of the Women’s Dermatologic Society, the American Academy of Dermatology, the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery and the American College of Mohs Surgery.
Actinic Keratosis, also known as solar keratosis, is a scaly or crusty lesion on the skin that develops slowly and indicates the presence of sun damage. It is most commonly found on parts of the body frequently exposed to the sun including the bald scalp, face, ears, lips, backs of the hands or forearms, neck, and shoulders.
Actinic keratoses are considered precancerous and can develop into a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. In fact, some 40 to 60 percent of squamous cell skin cancers begin as untreated actinic keratoses.
Because of this, your doctor should be diligent in diagnosing, treating and monitoring actinic keratosis.
Annual Skin Examinations are yearly scheduled skin exams with a dermatologist. Did you know that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S.? In fact, it is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Sun damage to the skin is cumulative over a person’s lifetime, so the average risk of skin cancer also increases as our life expectancy gets longer.
Just as you schedule your annual physical or trip to the dentist, it is important to conduct a self-examination of your skin each month and schedule a professional annual skin examination once a year. Skin cancer is a treatable condition, but early detection is key.
Basal Cell Carcinoma, also known as basalioma or basal cell cancer, is the most common type of skin cancer and carries the least amount of risk, though it still requires attention. If caught and treated early, basal cell carcinomas are not likely to be life-threatening, but they do have the potential to cause disfigurement of the skin tissue.
Almost one million new cases of basal cell carcinoma are diagnosed each year in the U.S., and up to 30% of Caucasians may develop basal cell carcinomas in their lifetime.
Skin cancer is considered low risk when the affected cells remain clustered in a single group. Both basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are rarely life-threatening. Though it is unlikely to spread to other parts of your body, if left untreated, basal cell carcinoma can move into nearby bone or other tissue.
Basal cell carcinoma typically begins as a small, shiny bump on the face, although it can occur on any part of the body.
Melanoma, the deadliest of skin cancers, only accounts for about 4 percent of all skin cancer cases, but causes about 79 percent of skin cancer deaths.
Melanoma is a cancer of the skin that begins in the melanocytes, which are the cells that produce the pigment melanin. It is the leading cause of cancer death in women 25 to 30 years old and the second leading cause of cancer death in women 30 to 35 years old.
In some cases, melanoma occurs in melanocytes throughout the body, even if those parts have never been exposed to the sun.
Mohs surgery offers the highest cure rates for all non-melanoma skin cancers. For certain cases of the most common types of skin cancer — squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma — the cure rate can be as high as 99 percent.
Mohs surgery is a highly specialized surgical technique used to treat non-melanoma skin cancers in which the surgeon removes all of the visible cancer, plus a small margin of the surrounding healthy tissue and examines it to ensure that all cancer cells have been removed at the time of surgery.
During Mohs micrographic surgery — named after Dr. Frederic Mohs, who first performed it in the 1930s — cancer is removed from the skin layer by layer until all cancerous cells have been removed. This type of surgery is most commonly used for cancers that have a high risk of re-occurrence. This technique allows for complete removal of the skin cancer while minimizing the removal of surrounding healthy skin.
Seborrheic keratosis is one of the most common noncancerous skin growths found in older adults. It most commonly appears as a brown, black or light tan growth on the face, chest, shoulders or back. Although they are not cancerous, they can look like skin cancer.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. with more than 3.5 million cases diagnosed each year.
Skin cancer is the result of uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells that takes place when skin cells suffer DNA damage and then mutate, causing them to multiply rapidly and form malignant (cancerous) tumors. Most skin cancers develop on the visible outer layer of the skin (the epidermis), particularly on sun-exposed areas such as the face, head, hands, arms and legs. They are usually easy to detect with a skin examination, which increases the chances of early diagnosis.
There are different types of skin cancer, each named for the type of skin cell from which they originate. The most common type of skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma. Almost one million new cases of basal cell carcinoma are diagnosed each year in the U.S. Most skin cancers fall into one of three categories:
There are often warning signs that cancer is developing. The most common are pre-cancerous lesions called actinic keratoses that often develop on sun-exposed areas. These tumors replace normal surrounding tissue and generally do not spread to other areas.
Skin cancer is considered low risk when the affected cells remain clustered in a single group. Both basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are rarely life-threatening.
Skin cancer is considered a high risk when cells have invaded surrounding tissues. The third most common skin cancer, malignant melanoma, can be life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated early.
If skin cancer is detected before it has spread to surrounding tissues, the chances of a complete recovery and cure are excellent. High-risk forms of cancer like melanoma require more aggressive treatments.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma is a common form of skin cancer that develops in the squamous cells that make up the outer layer of the skin. Although it is usually not life-threatening, it can be aggressive in some cases.
If left untreated, squamous cell carcinoma can grow large or spread to other parts of your body, causing serious complications.
Telemedicine, also known as online dermatology, telehealth, or teledermatology, is the use of telecommunications technology to provide care across a distance. This includes using the Internet, cell phones, SMS messaging and even satellites to allow physicians and patients to communicate medical information. This technology has been available for over a decade now, but as it has gotten better and better, telemedicine has now become much more available, easy to use, and secure. If used in the right way, it is one of the best ways that we can improve access to care.
Because dermatology is a very visual field and a specialty in high demand, patient access is often challenged by long wait times. Meeting a dermatologist online can be a great way to provide patients with increased access to skin care. Teledermatology involves the use of real-time video streaming, or more commonly the transmission of still images, pictures, and video in combination with a patient’s medical information collected via questionnaire. Teledermatology can be utilized in many ways including physician-to-physician consultations, triage, follow-up care, and patient education.
Cysts are pockets of tissue (sacs) that may become filled with pus, fluids, skin cells, and even air.
They are fairly common on the skin and can appear anywhere on the body. Cysts may feel like a pea under the surface of the skin, but without removal, they can grow significantly larger over time. In most cases, cysts are not painful, and they grow slowly. There are different types of cysts as we’ll discuss in the next section, and the vast majority of these skin growths are benign (not cancerous). Not all cysts will require treatment, but it is vitally important to have any lump under the skin evaluated and diagnosed by a board-certified dermatologist because some soft tissue malignancies (growths that are cancerous) can present like a cyst. Before recommending removal or other cyst treatments, your dermatologist will examine the growth to determine whether it is likely to cause you pain, become infected, or otherwise lead to skin health issues.
Dandruff is a condition of the scalp which causes flaking and itching of the skin. It is more common in people with the skin conditions seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis and eczema, and also can be a reaction to hair or skin products.
A lipoma is a common, non-cancerous, soft tissue growth just below the skin made up of fat cells. Though most lipomas are not a cause for concern, if the growth becomes too large, it may become painful.
Atypical moles, also known as dysplastic nevi, are unusual-looking benign (noncancerous) moles.
A dysplastic mole is one that, when viewed on a cellular level, has features unlike those of a healthy, benign mole. A benign mole will have a regular pattern of coloration and pigment, even borders, symmetry, and a tan or pink color. Dysplastic moles can be asymmetric, have indistinct borders, or contain multiple colors or very dark pigment.
Dysplastic moles are often spotted as the “ugly duckling” on a patient’s skin. Any departure from the typical mole a person’s skin makes may be dysplastic. They can appear anywhere on the body, but in most cases are found on the back, chest, buttocks, breasts, or scalp.
Sebaceous hyperplasia is a benign bump on the skin that forms as a result of over-productive oil glands. When oil glands are damaged, they can become enlarged and clogged, leading to this condition. It is primarily a cosmetic concern rather than a medical problem.
The sun can age and burn your skin, and it can also cause damage on the cellular level, leading to skin cancer. The good news is, the U.S. Dermatology Partners team can help you formulate a plan to prevent sun damage and repair the effects of the sun’s UV rays so that you can go out and enjoy a sunny day. Learn more on this page or contact U.S. Dermatology Partners to schedule an appointment with us.
Individuals who are prone to sunburn are thought to be genetically predisposed to skin cancer. Risk is also increased when exposure to UV rays is excessive. Sunscreen helps prevent the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation, including skin aging and skin cancer like melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
Sunscreens are rated and labeled with a sun protection factor (SPF) that measures the fraction of sunburn-producing UV rays that reach the skin. The higher the SPF, the greater the protection.
Botox, the commercial brand name for botulinum toxin (BTX), is an injectable cosmetic dermatology treatment that reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on the face.
Unlike injectable wrinkle fillers, which work by filling a crease in your skin with another substance, Botox actually relaxes targeted muscles to reduce the look of lines in the face. This results in smoother skin with a more youthful appearance.
Each Botox injection relaxes key facial areas by temporarily paralyzing specific muscles. This temporarily removes wrinkles and improves the look of laugh and frown lines, skin bands on the neck, crow’s feet, forehead creases and more.
Although it was originally developed to treat eye muscle disorders, Botox has become popular cosmetically and this is now its primary use. In fact, Botox injections are now the most common cosmetic treatment in the U.S., with 6.3 million procedures done in 2013. Because Botox inhibits the release of certain neurotransmitters, it is also sometimes used to treat chronic migraines.
Keloids are raised, red scars created by excessive healing of skin wounds, such as burns, cuts and acne. They are the result of an overproduction of collagen as the skin tries to repair itself. Keloids also can occur after piercings, tattoos or surgery and often times are itchy and painful. They can grow for years and sometimes show up three months or longer after the injury occurred.
We all want healthy, beautiful skin. But scars, a natural part of the healing process, leave a lasting mark and cause some people to struggle with the negative impact on the appearance of their skin and in some cases, limitations in function or other concerns. If you’re unhappy with the appearance, texture, or health of your skin after an injury, surgery, or other damage that leads to scarring, the U.S. Dermatology Partners team can offer treatment to improve the appearance of scarring.