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Cutting a niche

Article-Cutting a niche

New York — Roy G. Geronemus, M.D., made his mark in dermatology before actually becoming a dermatologist.

Dr. Geronemus
While he was a fourth-year medical student at University of Miami School of Medicine, Dr. Geronemus wrote a paper, still quoted today, on the use of topical antibiotics and the rate of wound healing.

The success of that paper (Geronemus RG, Mertz PM, Eaglestein WH. Wound healing. The effects of topical antimicrobial agents. Arch Dermatol. 1979 Nov;115(11):1311-4.), and the fact that Dr. Geronemus got the sense during his rotations that dermatologists were happier than most physicians in their chosen professions helped to clinch his decision to go into the medical specialty.

Today, Dr. Geronemus is a clinical professor of dermatology, New York University (NYU) Medical Center, director of the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York, president of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, and past president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. His claim to fame is his pioneering work in lasers.

"Our practice is one of the largest clinical laser facilities in the nation, in terms of the comprehensive nature of the facility. We have more than 35 lasers, seven physicians and a dedicated clinical research staff. We have three full-time nurses working on clinical projects under the supervision of our physicians at the practice, often studying next generation laser devices," Dr. Geronemus tells Cosmetic Surgery Times.

Balancing interests

Dr. Geronemus spent his first 10 years as a dermatologist in academia, as a full-time faculty member at the NYU Medical Center. It was there, in the early and mid-1980s, that he started focusing on lasers, establishing the medical center's laser program in the department of dermatology.

"We began by using the argon and CO2 lasers," Dr. Geronemus says.

Dr. Roy G. Geronemus swims competitively. This marathon was in Manhattan East River.
The dermatologist is not only drawn to exploring the interaction between light and tissue, but he also has a strong interest in Mohs surgery. In a sense, he says, he had split professional lives: using the Mohs surgical practice and, at the same time, developing the laser program, providing clinical services to patients in New York and conducting clinical studies.

In addition to the pulsed dye laser, Dr. Geronemus had the opportunity to work with other lasers as they became available in the early clinical phase.

"By having the opportunity to work with these devices early on, there were multiple turning points in my practice, with one breakthrough after another as the field evolved," he says.

"The experience provided a clinical opportunity to publish on lasers quite a bit and to provide a unique clinical service in the Northeast when there was little, if any, laser work going on," he says.

Pushing the envelope

Dr. Geronemus started with treating port wine stains and went on to treating other vascular lesions.

In the early phases with the pulsed dye laser, Dr. Geronemus discovered that he could treat conditions beyond port wine stains, including hemangiomas, telangiectases and poikiloderma.

"On the downside, we found what the limitations were with resurfacing lasers and that complications occurred, including scarring and pigmentary changes, even though it was believed early on that such side effects would not be seen," he says.

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