Q&A with Dermatologist and Laser Expert Dr. Susan Stuart, M.D.



Susan Stuart, M.D. is a leading San Diego dermatologist who specializes in dermatological laser procedures and pediatric dermatology. Stuart has study at some of very prestigious dermatology programs around the country, including residency at Emory University and a postgraduate fellowship at Stanford University Medical Center. She also founded and was previously been president of an organization at Duke University dedicated to children with physical and emotional disorders. She spent time studying with leading, internationally respected dermatologist and laser experts. She is currently serves on the faculty at UCSD Medical Center, continuing her education, and holds active staff privileges at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla.

What made you interested in dermatological lasers?

My interest in dermatological lasers developed as a result of my personal experience working with some of the pioneers and world experts in lasers for dermatological conditions. I discovered how innovative and effective lasers could be when other treatment methods were not.

What have been some of the most incredibly recent advances in dermatological lasers?

The most incredible recent advances in dermatological lasers have been in the area of non-ablative laser technology. These lasers can create long lasting improvements in the skin’s tone and texture without damaging the outermost layers of the skin. That means there is really no significant down time with these lasers with no peeling and much less risks of permanent skin discoloration or scar formation.

Who do you think are ideal candidates for which lasers?

Ideal candidates for these lasers are those people who have sun damage related to unprotected sun exposure over the years. Their skin is often discolored with sunspots and fine lines on the face, neck, chest, and hands. Many of these newer lasers are really safe for all skin types and have the approval of the FDA for added assurance.

What’s the biggest skin care you see people making regularly?

The biggest skin care mistake people make is to forget to incorporate a sunscreen into their daily skin care routine. People often remember to use a moisturizer but forget how important it is to protect one’s skin against the harmful effects of UV radiation. It is important to use a daily sunscreen with an SPF of 30 and apply it in the morning before going outdoors, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

What do you think are the benefits of a combined dermatology and plastic surgery practice?

The greatest benefits of a combined practice are that the combinations of the talents and unique training of both a dermatologist and plastic surgery, which benefit each and every patient we see. We have decades of combined training and experience that we bring to our patients’ care. Patients get the best of both worlds, and we really believe this is the gold standard for any practice that’s serious about aesthetic surgery.

How did you practice come about?

Our practice developed because we saw too many practices that wanted to be everything to everyone. There were practices where dermatologists were really outside of their comfort level and training trying to be plastic surgeons. The same could also be said about some plastic surgery practices. Physicians are hesitant to refer patients out of their practices for fear they won’t return. Consequently, some physicians will push the envelope and it’s patient care that’s compromised in the end. We wanted to practice the full range of our specialties yet stay within our chosen specialties to provide our patients what we would expect for our families and ourselves. The result is that our patients receive the gold standard in aesthetic plastic surgery and dermatology. We wouldn’t settle for anything less.

What are your post popular procedures? What are the procedures you recommend most?

The most popular procedures are non-invasive technologies for creating more youthful skin such as the dual Fraxel and Cool Sculpting for non-invasive removal of unwanted fat. We offer the entire range of aesthetic dermatological lasers to treat all types of skin problems.

We also introduced the Neograft hair replacement system for male and female pattern hair loss. This is game changing technology because it avoids a donor scar from where the hair grafts are obtained and there is minimal manipulation of hair follicles. Hair growth occurs in 95-98% of transplanted hair follicular units (FUE), which is the highest of any technique. We can transplant several thousand hair follicle units at one time and really recreate the way hair normally grows in the scalp. You cannot tell someone has even undergone hair replacement surgery, as it is very natural looking and permanent.

What are your top five ingredients for keeping skin youthful?

The top five ingredients for keeping skin youthful include sun protection from protective clothing and sun glasses, daily use of a moisturizer, daily application of a sunscreen with an SPF of 30, avoiding excess alcohol, avoiding tobacco use.

What make pediatric dermatology different from adult dermatology? What are some of the unique challenges?

Pediatric dermatology is different from adult dermatology in that patients often cannot provide a very accurate nor detailed history. The actual condition of the skin may reflect not only skin-specific or skin-limited disorders, but — in most cases — is a mirror of either the physical or psychological status of the patient. There are some very challenging skin diseases in the newborn population that require special expertise to diagnose and treat effectively.

What is the most important advice for parents about helping their kids keep their skin health?

Teach your children about the importance of sun protection and the proper application and reapplication of sunscreens. Avoid outdoor activities during the times of peak sun exposure from 10 am to 2 pm. Apply a sunscreen at least 20 minutes before going outdoors and reapply every two hours or more if sweating or after water exposure.

If you could tell FutureDerm readers any one important skin care tip, what would it be?

Remember that the skin is the largest organ in the body. It is vital that you take good care of it. If you don’t, then the results will be premature aging of the skin and the development of skin cancers such as melanoma, which can be life threatening. Make a good sunscreen a daily part of your skin care ritual.

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  • mary

    no comment on this one? It doesn’t surprise me. Dermatologists don’t like these kinds of questions. Haven’t had a single straight answer.

  • Mary

    Hi – it would be great if the doctor could comment on IPL. I went for 2 sessions , spaced 30days apart. I did it for brightening and a couple of spots — I’m in my late 40’s, have used retin-a for 20+ years and have always gotten compliments on my skin. The doctor used a Syneron and it was supposedly just IPL . After the second session (one mos after) I had grooves around my eyes as if I’d lost fat/ collagen there. You mentioned Fraxel depletes fat — is it possible this occurred with IPL?? I’m also noticing, now6 months out, that my pores are orange-peely and my face is more slack and has lost it’s overall glow. Can you please comment on what can go wrong with IPL or what might have gone wrong here??Is Syneron IPL or is it Fraxel?? Thank you

  • Natalie Bell

    @Linda — Thank you so much for commenting! I hope Dr. Stuart sees your comment. I’m sure it will brighten her day!

  • Linda

    besides being an awesome doctor, she is a beautiful person inside and out!

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