By Guest Editor: Sue G. DeCotiis, MD, Internist and Skin Care Expert

As a Sagittarius, I’m far from the corporate type – a free spirit, who loves nature and people. I became a physician because of my love for science, people and the ability to be my own boss – all under one roof. I chose internal medicine as my specialty because I wanted to be involved with the entire body. I wanted to affect a person’s health in a wider way.

Sue G. DeCotiis, MD

My patients began referring to me as the “in and out” doctor after I began offering external, cosmetic spa services as they (and myself) began growing older. Today, more people than ever are opting to take a medical approach to skin care. Many skin problems come from within – and need to be addressed from within — although they may exhibit a “cosmetic” downside such as dryness, wrinkling and discoloration. Aesthetic medical technology (aka the “Medispa“) is growing at an explosive rate: There are definite advantages for selecting a medical doctor to treat the health of both your body and skin. Here are “real-life” examples from my own medical practice of patient-diagnosed cosmetic flaws that instead were flags signaling a more severe health-related illness.

Cosmetic Symptoms: Patient came in complaining of a rash under the eyes and severe puffiness. Had been “treating” these symptoms with facials and aloe vera gel. Medical Diagnosis: Scleroderma. (Note: At times this disease can be very serious.)

Cosmetic Symptoms: Patient thought she had just oily skin and used cosmetic skin cream. With time she developed permanent discoloration because her rash was never treated. Medical Diagnosis: Seborrheic Dermatitis.

Cosmetic Symptoms: Patient noticed persistent redness in the cheeks, thought it was rosacea after researching it online. She went to a laser clinic to get treatment. Medical Diagnosis: Lupus. (Note: Patient became quite ill until she was diagnosed and started prescription medication.)

As you can see, general health conditions affect skin. As my patients began growing older, they began requesting cosmetic medicines to halt the appearance of the aging process. So, I had to come up with a treatment plan for the patient, as well as integrate skin care regiments into my internal medicine practice.

Technician at Dr. DeCotiis’ practice administers a treatment

During challenging economic times, both women and men seek out non-invasive cosmetic treatments to feel and look better about themselves physically and emotionally. In my office near Grand Central Station, I have busy patients who work long hours and have families. They want treatments that are both time-conservative (during lunch hour or before and after work) and affordable. More serious measures may eventually be prescribed to a client, but to start, prescription-strength glycolic acid peels can do a myriad of things to help skin acne, signs of aging and sun damage. Stronger medical grade chemical peels treat multiple pre-cancer skin lesions. Using such treatments for different purposes can be appealing – or I should say, “apeeling” – excuse the pun!

In closing, know what is going on with your body. Get a proper diagnosis by a medical professional – don’t self-diagnose. Combining the health of your body with the health of your skin is the new trend, and hopefully one here to stay.

104 East 40th Street, Suite 606
, New York, NY 10016
Telephone: (212) 685-3640
(212) 779-4780 FAX

About Sue G. DeCotiis, MD
Dr. Sue G. DeCotiis is a Board Certified Medical Internist and New York State Licensed Physician in private practice since 1985. She is also an attending physician at Beth Israel Medical Center as well as Lenox Hill Hospital. Dr. DeCotiis obtained her medical degree from the New York Medical College, Valhalla, New York. Her internship in Internal Medicine was completed at Lenox Hill Hospital, and her residency in Internal Medicine and Pathology were completed at Westchester County Medical Center and NYU Medical Center respectively. She is the author of A Woman’s Guide to Sexual Health, Pocketbooks (Simon and Schuster), and publishes a quarterly newsletter sent to all patients. A firm believer in the benefits of exercise, Dr. DeCotiis is an avid tennis player, kayaker and a beachcomber – and dog lover.

Originally published March 2009
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