With more than 5 million cases diagnosed each year, skin cancer is the most common, but also one of the most preventable forms of cancer. Dr. Julie Russak always advises patients that sun protection is not only crucial for their medical health, but also for aesthetic purposes. “Sun exposure not only causes skin cancer, it also promotes premature aging,” she says. “Over time, the sun’s UV light damages fibers in our skin called elastin. When these fibers break down, the skin begins to sag, stretch and lose its elasticity. Sun damage may not be apparent when you’re young, but it will definitely show later in life.” Aside from scheduling annual skin checks, she also advises patients to follow her top three tips of sun protection: “Seek shade during the hours of 10am-2pm, when the sun is strongest; apply SPF 30+ daily; and utilize gentle resurfacing professional treatments, such as the Clear + Brilliant laser and microneedling with platelet-rich plasma to help brighten and stimulate fresh healthy skin cells.”
About My Practice:
What is on the cutting edge of dermatology?
MelaFind®, the first FDA-approved, noninvasive and painless medical device to detect melanoma in its earliest stages. MelaFind® can save a patient from an unnecessary biopsy, which is especially essential when biopsying an area on the face.
How do you make patients feel comfortable in your care?
It was important to me that my office didn’t look like a medical space, but more like an oasis. It took me a year to find a location because we wanted it to feel very open with a lot of windows for natural light. Patients tell me that they feel very calm and relaxed in our office, which was my ultimate goal.
What does a consultation with you entail?
We always ask our patient what bothers them—that’s the starting line. With cosmetic patients, we let them tell us what they would like to see improved. At that point, we go over all of the options, tailoring each treatment to that particular individual because not every treatment is right for everyone.
What is your approach to treating patients?
Our approach is more holistic because we focus a lot on education and prevention for total wellness. Additionally, every procedure we offer at our clinic includes next to no downtime. Most of my patients are busy professionals who don’t have a lot of time, so these procedures can make them look younger and fresher, not “done,” in very little time.
Does your office offer any special services?
We have a full-service medical spa, run by our celebrity aesthetician Christina, who has more than eight years of experience in the field of aesthetics. We offer everything from a quick, “teen clean” facial to dermaplaning and photofacials. We listen to our patients’ concerns and offer them the best treatment for their needs and skin type.
What is your philosophy when treating patients?
My philosophy is all about starting younger with your skin-care maintenance and doing less, but more frequently, to maintain healthy, fresh-looking skin throughout the years. Many of our methods can be accomplished in a lunch hour.
What lifestyle change could most benefit our health?
Anything that will contribute to decreasing stress, as it causes inflammation in the body, which can lead to sickness and disease, as well as an accelerated aging process.
How do you best educate patients and manage patient expectations?
I always explain, in an easy-to-understand fashion, the science behind any procedure. Patients do their research, and they want to be educated on how a particular treatment is going to work for them. I also lay out upfront any potential side effects. Patients appreciate my honesty and professional opinion; I would never want to compromise that relationship.
What should patients ask during their office visit?
A patient should always inquire about what they should be looking for regarding changing moles. If patients are actively on the lookout for irregular changes, it makes catching a potential skin cancer all that easier.
What makes your practice distinct?
At our clinic, our focus is not on extreme cosmetic treatments. It is on noninvasive therapies, starting younger and doing less, but more frequently to maintain healthy, fresh-looking skin through the years. We are also a comprehensive melanoma clinic. My expertise in treating melanoma is a passion of mine: Skin cancer and Mohs surgeries are performed in-clinic.
How do you ensure patient satisfaction?
We strongly believe in the importance of follow-up care. All cosmetic patients are called a few days after their treatment to see how they are doing. They are also scheduled a two-week touch-up appointment. My medical patients are given the same attention, especially high-risk melanoma patients. We automatically schedule complete skin exams every three, six or 12 months, depending on the patient’s skin cancer history.
What does your office look like?
Our office is unlike other doctors’ offices in New York City. Designed by expert interior designer Antonio Tadrissi, the space is less “doctor’s office” and more “oasis.” Boasting extra large treatment rooms and unique design elements, patients are made to feel comfortable and relaxed. As doctor visits can often be nerve-racking, our goal is to provide a calming atmosphere—a place to leave the stresses of city life behind and be able to unwind.
What beauty product should everyone have?
There is extensive research exhibiting the undeniable benefits of using vitamin A and topical antioxidant serums. In my opinion, you’d be doing your skin a disservice not to use this power duo (my personal favorite): SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic and SkinMedica Retinol Complex 0.5.
What is the Skinceuticals SkinScope LED device?
The SkinScope LED, a new device incorporated into my practice, includes two light modes: Daylight and LED-UV. While some skin concerns are visible in everyday light, others are only visible under UV light, which highlights damage beneath the skin’s surface by detecting skin’s fluorescence. I think it’s important to have patients see what’s going on underneath their skin. The SkinScope LED allows me to fully treat my patients’ skin from the inside out.
What other services are available at Russak Dermatology Clinic?
We now offer the latest generation in mesotherapy using CosmoPen®. Mesotherapy is a technique of injecting small amounts of customized mixtures of vitamins, hyaluronic acids, Botox and peptides into the mesoderm–or middle–layer of skin. These very small, customized doses are administered using tiny needles in specific areas, depending on the condition being treated from scars, stretch marks and pore size to fine lines and wrinkles.
What makes your aesthetic approach distinctive?
At our clinic, our focus is not on extreme cosmetic treatments. It is on noninvasive therapies, starting younger and doing less but more frequently to maintain healthy, youthful skin through the years. Together we can create a personalized plan, tailoring all treatments to meet your individual needs. Not every treatment is right for everyone.
Tell us about your 3-D facial restoration method.
There are many factors that contribute to an aging face, including loss of volume, texture changes, formation of deep-set wrinkles, under-eye hollows and more. My 3-D facial restoration method, a customizable combination of neurotoxins, dermal fillers and skin-tightening and resurfacing procedures, can create a natural, lifted and refreshed look.
What's new and exciting at your practice?
Our office is excited to announce our unique hair restoration method. Backed by clinical studies, microneedling with Minoxidil, the active ingredient in treating premature hair loss, has been proven effective in stimulating hair regeneration. Microneedling allows me to deliver the Minoxidil deep within the dermis. I then prescribe an oral and topical prescription with a unique blend of hair restoration actives.
How do you put patients at ease?
We believe in an in-depth consultation, a conversation where our patients know we fully understand what their ultimate goals are. Once my patients know I fully understand their desires and concerns, they feel at ease creating a treatment plan.
Why did you become a dermatologist?
I was fascinated with melanoma research, and dermatology allowed me to incorporate a lot of different fields. Additionally, cosmetic dermatology is an art form and science in one, which gives me a lot of creative freedom.
What do you like most about your job?
Interacting with people and following my patients’ families throughout their skin journeys, including both the good and the difficult times. I enjoy building relationships with their entire families and becoming personally invested in their well-being.
What is one product you can't live without?
I am a huge fan of Revision Skincare® Intellishade SPF 45. It’s an anti-aging, antioxidant-rich moisturizer with a universal tint plus SPF 45. Three steps in one, it’s doesn’t get easier than that. I truly believe the simpler the regimen, the more likely you will follow it.