SoCo Conversations: Interview with Robin Evans, MD
Q: What motivated you to become a dermatologist?
Dr. Evans: I love variety so I was attracted by the prospect of treating men and women of all ages with a wide variety of issues. I enjoy working with my hands and doing procedures for medical reasons, but I also find the cosmetic aspect very rewarding. There’s something artistic about it.
When I started out, dermatology wasn’t a cosmetic specialty. However, I embraced those aspects of the field early on because I get a lot of satisfaction from having patients pleased with the very visible results of their treatment. With something like lowering blood pressure, patients may be glad to hear this news, but they can’t see the doctor’s work. When patients look good, when I enhance their skin, they feel good and they appreciate this.
I also love the fact that looking at the skin can help diagnose what’s going on medically with a patient. Skin is a window into what’s going on internally.
Q: What sets you apart from other dermatologists?
Dr. Evans: Southern Connecticut Dermatology is unique because our goal is to treat the whole person. We try to find and address the root cause of a dermatologic condition. We don’t simply prescribe medication to treat what you see on the surface. Of course we do that too. SoCo is a full-service dermatology practice designed to meet all dermatology needs—medical, surgical, laser, and cosmetic. However, if a patient is open, we can include a holistic approach that embraces diet, environmental factors, allergies, and so forth. We can offer nutritional recommendations, food and contact allergy testing, supplement and vitamin support, and medical spa services that together create a comprehensive holistic approach to skin care. I’ve transformed acne, psoriasis, eczema, and other general dermatologic conditions with dietary modifications. It can be dramatic and very liberating for my patients!
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Q: What other amazing transformations, recoveries, or success stories have you witnessed in your practice?
Dr. Evans: I’ve seen so many. I have patients who come in because they think they just have a minor problem on the face, but when we suggest a full skin exam and we incidentally find a melanoma, we end up saving a life.
Then there is the cosmetic patient who gets a new outlook on life. They get this little boost that changes how they view themselves and it helps them feel better.
Q: Dentists encourage people to have regular checkups and many patients have an annual physical. Should we have a skin checkup every year?
Dr. Evans: The rule of thumb is: on your birthday, have your birthday suit examined! Please get an annual skin exam performed by a dermatologist and also try to do monthly self-exams. Just take a few moments to look for anything new or unusual going on with your skin.
Q: Besides monthly self-exams, what other self-care advice do you give patients?
Dr. Evans: Moderation in all aspects of life: with diet, fitness, skin care, everything. Try to make a daily commitment to your own care as best you can. When life gets busy, we can push our own needs aside and that’s when we can get into trouble. Giving yourself a little TLC each day is what health and wellness are all about.
Q: Generally speaking, what are three things a patient can do to maintain or create healthy skin?
1) Sun damage prevention using sunscreen/sun protection and sun avoidance.
2) Drink a lot of water and try to eat a “clean diet” with lots of fruits and veggies. A “clean diet” means eating foods closest to—or in—their natural, original state, that aren’t processed, and that don’t contain a lot of ingredients, especially those that are hard to pronounce. I recommend eating whole grains, good sources of protein, and Omega-3 essential fatty acids—EFAs—in fish or other dietary or supplement sources.
3) Use diet and exercise to maintain a steady body weight throughout your life. Constant weight fluctuations stretch the skin, which tends to result in loss of volume in the face and skin redundancy—excess skin tissue.
Q: What do you include in your own skin-health regimen?
Dr. Evans: In the morning, I use glycolic acid in cleansers to help exfoliate and create a clean palate prior to applying any products. I always apply an anti-aging face cream and eye cream with antioxidant and other anti-aging properties every morning and then also at night. Be sure to apply anti-aging products not only to the face, but also to the neck. Too many people forget the neck!
My morning moisturizer also has a physical sunblock so that protects me all day. I also religiously avoid sun exposure. I keep a hat or visor in my car at all times in case I need protection and I always have sunscreen on hand. My morning herbal sun protection antioxidant adds another level of protection and I’m pleased to be able to offer that kind of supplementation to my patients.
Q: What do you like to do for fun?
Dr. Evans: Because I enjoy physical fitness so much, I’ve made it an integral part of my life. I love yoga for mind/body balancing and practice regularly. My passion for diet and nutrition isn’t just something I preach to my patients. I very much enjoy cooking classes and using those skills on a daily basis for healthy, “clean” eating for myself and my family. I’m also an avid skier. Having grown up in Portland, Maine, I skied every weekend throughout my childhood and teen years. I’ve carried on this tradition with my own family for many years. My father has continued to ski with us through his 86th birthday!
Q: Which organizations or philanthropic activities are you involved with?
Dr. Evans: I’m a Voluntary Clinical Instructor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. There, I’m able to give back to the university that trained me by teaching dermatology to medical students and residents. I focus particularly on surgical skills, which I’ve been doing regularly for the past 23 years.
I also helped out after Hurricane Sandy in communities in New York. Medical assistance can be scarce in that kind of emergency and it made me feel good to offer my skills. I also helped to distribute food and supplies to victims of that disaster and others.
Q: What’s your perspective on medical training now that you’re a clinical instructor?
Dr. Evans: It’s such an important time to try to absorb and to be exposed to as much as possible. The practice of medicine is a commitment to education and growth. Medical school is just the beginning of lifelong learning. I would also stress the importance of continuity in the care of your patients. Sometimes this can be difficult because there is so much moving around that goes on in any training program’s various hospitals and clinics. I think continuity helps the young doctor have a better perspective on the full course of any disease, condition, or treatment. Building the doctor-patient relationship over time allows for more thorough care, which leads to better outcomes.
Q: Knowing how committed you are to lifelong learning, can you tell us about the recent trainings, conferences, or seminars you’ve attended?
Dr. Evans: I’m off to a conference at Mt Sinai Medical Center tomorrow where I hope to learn about updating primarily the medical arena of dermatology. The seminar I recently attended on the use of a new medication for psoriasis enabled me to incorporate it in the practice with great results for patients. I also recently attended a cosmetic-oriented conference with training on some of the newer fillers as well as on how to expand the use of Botox for rejuvenation. I’m always looking for new ways to help my patients on every level!
Q: What inspires you most in life?
Dr. Evans: My patients! I come to work each day truly grateful to be able to practice what I love and take care of my patients in the best way I know how. I’ve also put together a team—from the person who greets you at the door to the nurses—who share that passion. I try to make every day new and fresh. I keep learning. I keep growing personally and professionally. I try to make our offerings here at SoCo Dermatology innovative and exciting!
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