What made you want to pursue Dermatology?
I was naturally drawn to the field of Dermatology because it allowed me to be a surgeon and a medical doctor. The surgery demands creative, artistic work and a steady hand, especially with the reconstruction of difficult-to-close wounds with an eye to achieving healthy and beautiful cosmetic results. The medical side of dermatology involves complex immunology and oncology and demands a different skill set altogether. Work as a dermatologist is always a challenge and a great privilege.
What is your number one piece of advice when it comes to protecting yourself from the sun?
One should use sunscreen on a daily basis. No question. When added up, the combined total minutes of sun-exposed skin anyone has on a daily basis far exceeds the number of minutes that someone gets on vacation lying on the beach or on the water a few days a year.
Why is sun protective clothing so important? Doesn’t my t-shirt protect me?
There are many areas of the body that we cannot see or that we cannot reach or forget to protect while walking in the sun or at the beach. Sun protective clothing completes the coverage of those blind spots of which we so often lose sight.
What major changes have you seen over the years surrounding sun safety? Is awareness increasing? Do you think more companies are going to be incorporating UPF into their clothes?
People have begun to recognize the need for both sun protection and screening to catch skin cancer early. There is a dramatic difference when skin cancer is diagnosed early both in terms of survival and disfigurement. In the case of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, very early detection (located at the site where it started) can mean a 5-year survival rate of 98%.
How often should someone visit their dermatologist to get their skin checked?
This varies based on the risk of the individual and only a dermatologist can assess that while doing a thorough skin exam. From there, they will help design a program for screening and protection, be that as often as quarterly, semiannually, yearly or less frequently, depending on the patient.
What’s it like to have one of your own patients that you saved create their own UPF clothing line?
It’s thrilling! Any time a person like Melissa can translate a traumatic experience and brush with mortality, especially a young mother, into an effective program that helps people, it restores your faith in the capacity of human nature to make corrections and help other people.
Dr. Mitchell Kline is a board-certified clinical dermatologist with a private practice on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. He specializes in melanoma surgery and staging and non-invasive melanoma detection including total body dermoscopy and DermSpectra full body digital imaging. Dr. Kline is a Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Cornell University - Weill New York Presbyterian Medical Center.