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How Can Dermatologists Be Better Photographers?

Photography is often an integral part of a dermatologist’s job; however, accurately capturing a patient’s biopsy, lesion, or cosmetic results can be a challenge for dermatologists and clinicians who lack photography training or face time constraints. Here are some tips inspired by Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, a dermatologist based in Beverly Hills for Dermatology Times.

Biopsy photos. According to a University of California Los Angeles study, 14 percent of malpractice suits associated with Mohs surgeries are a result of incorrectly identifying biopsy sites. In addition to the biopsy photo, Dr. Shainhouse recommends taking shots of “other identifiable anatomic parts, so that you will have no question about the exact site from where the biopsy was taken.” For example, if the biopsy is on the back shoulder, be sure to document the entire back.

Lesion photos. Photos are critical to successfully evaluating a lesion’s progress. Dr. Shainhouse suggests measuring the lesion with a ruler and taking a photo of it so you can get a full scope of its location. Close-up photos of the lesion’s characteristics are also necessary for understanding the lesion’s trajectory.

Cosmetic result photos. Before your patient undergoes any kind of cosmetic procedure, it’s important to take clear photos of the site so that they can understand the procedure’s effect. Take another set of photos at least two weeks after the procedure. Always photograph from the same position and angle. “This helps demonstrate the skin pigment, resting and active rhytids and facial contour before and after the procedure. It shows the patient the effect of the treatment and helps guide further procedures.”

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