Published September 18, 2019 / All Stories
Christos C. Zouboulis, M.D., Ph.D. and Afsaneh Alavi MD, MSc, FRCPC have dedicated much of their dermatology practice and research to better understanding this inflammatory skin disease. The two experts share what they’ve learned through their experience with patients and how it can help other dermatologists’ relationships with patients.
Why are you so passionate about skin diseases and skin health?
Afsaneh Alavi MD, MSc, FRCPC: Dermatology covers a wide variety of conditions and many internal diseases have skin manifestations. For me, the illness is so visible and clear for the patient compared to other areas of medicine.
Christos C. Zouboulis, M.D., Ph.D.: I really liked photography when I was younger. There’s something about what you see in front of you that I find intriguing and dermatology brings that optical element into play. Additionally, in dermatology the patient is somewhat in control. They can see whether they’re doing better. It’s not just about lab work and tests, but about what they’re skin looks like and how it feels.
How has the approach to hidradenitis suppurativa treatment evolved since you started seeing patients?
Alavi: What I’ve learned from treating patients in Canada is that many of them need surgery, but it’s because we often act too late and they experience tissue destruction. That’s not reversible. Today, I know we have better outcome if we act early.
Zouboulis: In 2006, HS wasn’t even recognized. We only had a couple of specialists then. Today, research has shown us we have more options. Because of our new understanding, doctors don’t have to wait for surgical intervention, they have options to help patients manage HS early. We are optimistic because we’re finally diagnosing the patient in three years in Germany; A few years ago it used to be an average of 12 years diagnosis delay.