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The skinny on Kauai Dermatology

LIHUE — People are aware of what they need to do to protect their skin, said Dr. Thomas Potter of Kauai Dermatology.

“We all know about using sunscreen,” said Potter, the only board-certified dermatologist on Kauai. “But we don’t do it.”

The result is skin cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the most common cancer in the United States.

Between Dr. Potter and Helen Petros, a physician’s assistant and advance practice registered nurse, Kauai Dermatology treats more than 10 skin cancers a day, and more than a hundred pre-skin cancers, daily, said Lisa Dela Cruz, office manager.

Both Potter and Helen treat all types of skin conditions and diseases of all ages.

Another preventative measure is skin examinations, said Petros, who joined the Kauai Dermatology team in January.

“We look at places people would never think of looking when doing self examinations,” she said. “But early diagnosis means a greater chance for a cure.”

Petros’ arrival at Kauai Dermatology means patients have broader and more expansive coverage for their ailments.

“I’ve been here for 19 years and it has been super, super busy,” Potter said.

Potter spends his Wednesdays at the North Shore Wellness Center in Kilauea, filling a void left by the retirement of a nurse practitioner who dealt with dermatology.

“With Petros here, patients are still able to be seen on Wednesdays at the Kukui Grove office,” Potter said.

Petros said she is familiar with Kauai because she spent time in Hawaii 40 years ago as a medical services provider aboard the American Hawaii Cruise lines.

“This is my last stop,” Petros said. “With the knowledge of Kauai patients from Straub Hospital, and the fact Kauai Dermatology is so busy, I’m not going anywhere.”

She said dermatology is a nice specialty because it makes people feel good.

“You can do a lot just by looking,” Petros said, extracting a dermatoscope, or a hand-held microscope, which resembled an older fold-up cellular phone. “A lot of times, when something is detected, it can be worked on pretty quickly which always gets people smiling. They leave the office happy.”

Petros said Kauai Dermatology also works on cosmetic skin procedures.

“A lot of people spend a lot of money on looking good,” Petros said. “But there is a danger in having work done by unqualified people, or injecting chemicals under the skin at botox parties.”

Facial fillers and Botox should be administered by experienced board certified health professionals in a controlled office setting.

People come in and ask us to “fix” the damages, she said. The danger lies in the fact no one knows what kind of chemicals were used, or in what quantities.

“This comes back to skin examinations,” Petros said. “There is no need to come in after something didn’t work and asking us to ‘fix’ the damage. From acne on down, dermatologists work with anything to do with skin.”

Kauai Dermatology is at 4366 Kukui Grove Street in Lihue and open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.

Potter is at the North Shore Wellness Center in Kilauea on Wednesdays from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

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