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Chances are if Mikhail Gorbachev came to Fresh Meadows, Dr. Joshua Fox, MD, would want to have a minute of his time.
Removing Gorbachev’s port wine stain on his temple, which is as well known as the former Soviet Leader himself, would be no challenge for Fox, a dermatologist who has removed thousands of birthmarks by laser surgery in his Queens practice since 1989.
But Fox takes a neutral approach when it comes to prospective patients: “I don’t encourage. I don’t discourage,” he says about the consulting style of Advanced Dermatology located at 58-47 188th Street.
Still many of his patients, from a two-week-old baby to a 103-year-old woman, have visited Fox’s office seeking among other procedures-cosmetic surgery, scar abrasion treatment, hair transplants, birthmark removal and in recent months stretch mark removal.
The procedure for removing stretch marks, in most cases, can be as easy as two or three treatments of laser surgery for five-to-10 minute intervals, Fox says.
The Fresh Meadows physician uses what is called a pulse dye laser to penetrate the skin and wash away the blemish or mark. With its seven lasers, Fox said Advanced Dermatology boasts a better and wider variety of dermatology lasers than are available at major university and teaching hospitals in the metropolitan area, including Columbia University and New York University Medical Center.
Fox began using laser surgery for stretch marks after simply reasoning that if they could remove blood vessels stains or scars than why not for other flaws. The results, he said, have been miraculous.
As a new development in science, Fox said there isn’t scientific data to explain why the procedure is effective in removing the stretch marks. But, he reasons, the laser stimulates the collagen in the skin tissue, which in turn causes the flaw to disappear.
Stretch marks, which sometimes can be pink, red or blue, are often caused by weightlifting, pregnancy, breast reduction surgery and other plastic surgery such as liposuction. Fox considers them to be scars but patients just know they want them removed.
On one particular Friday, a reporter had a chance to go under the laser for a couple of not-so noticeable burst blood vessels just to see how it feels. Patients, as well as the physician and his assistant, are required to wear protective eye wear. The tiny ray of light produces a sensation that is almost non-existent. After the 10-second laser surgery the spot turned a slightly grayish color and then disappeared.
“One of the nicest things that can happen in our field is a person comes in with a problem and we can often help,” said Fox. In a society that much to his dismay values people by physical appearances, helping others is all in a day’s work.
“People are judged by how they look and that’s the bottom line,” Fox said. “We tell our kids-and I have six kids-not to judge people by how they look, but that doesn’t stop it from happening.”