The beauty of practicing dermatology is that you actually can see and feel a patient getting better, says Houston-based dermatologist Dr. Suzanne Bruce. Practicing since 1985, Dr. Bruce is a graduate of Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine, where she also completed her dermatology residency training. As the founder of Suzanne Bruce and Associates, board-certified Dr. Bruce cares for men and women, old and young, and addresses cosmetic and medical skin problems using the latest, cutting-edge technology. In addition to running her own practice, she is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology and a member of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, Texas Dermatological Society, and Houston Dermatological Society.
Tell us a little bit about your background. What attracted you to dermatology?
I was attracted to dermatology because of the breadth and depth of the field. My patients are male and female, young and old, healthy and ill. It involves elements of infectious disease, cancer, aging, and immunology. I also like that it is a very visual specialty. You can actually see the improvements as the rash clears or the skin heals after laser treatment.
Maintaining a youthful appearance is more important than ever. What is your advice to a woman in her early 30s to keep her skin in tip-top shape?
Of course the most important advice is to protect your skin from the sun with sunscreen, hats, and clothing. In addition to sunscreen, I recommend using skin rejuvenation products with active ingredients such as vitamin C and retinoids that have been proven to help reduce and prevent aging of the skin.
Can “liquid facelifts” really replace surgery? How can a combination of fillers and muscle relaxing agents take years off a patient’s face?
The so-called “liquid facelifts” can go a long way toward delaying or avoiding a surgical facelift altogether. As we age, we lose volume in the face causing the skin to sag. Our skin gets thinner from loss of collagen. The actions of the underlying muscles of facial expression become more apparent causing more visible frown lines, crow’s feet, and horizontal forehead lines. Botulinum toxin can be used to relax these muscles and soften the lines. Fillers are used to fill out hollow cheeks and temples and smooth lines around the mouth.
What about aging hands? What can be done to make these telltale signs of age look younger?
Brown spots and thinning skin on the hands are telltale signs of aging hands. Resurfacing lasers can be used to remove brown spots and improve the texture of wrinkled skin. Filler can also be used to plump up the hands and camouflage veins.
We hear a lot about skin rejuvenation. What devices help turn back the clock?
There are many devices on the market to help rejuvenate the skin. Intense pulse light devices and lasers can treat red blood vessels and brown spots. Fractionated lasers can improve brown spots, texture, and wrinkles. Skin tightening devices using technologies like focused ultra sound and radio frequency can reduce laxity and improve wrinkles and texture.
Where is dermatology headed? What exciting developments are coming down the pipeline?
There are many exciting things coming down the pipeline in cosmetic dermatology. New longer lasting fillers and wrinkle treatments using a person’s own skin cells are now available. New treatments are available in which antioxidants and other topical agents are applied to the skin immediately after laser resurfacing, allowing active ingredients to penetrate more deeply into the skin. Many companies are developing lasers and light devices that can be used at home for skin rejuvenation and laser hair removal.