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From the newsstands to exam rooms: My chat with Stanford dermatologist Laurel Geraghty

Laurel G

First thing to know about Laurel Geraghty, MD: She can geek out with the best of them. Don't be fooled by her fashionable clothes or her graceful manner: Geraghty can riff on mole types and describe the symptoms of psoriasis with passion. Geraghty had to suppress her science savvy as an editor at Glamour magazine, although there were plenty of other perks - including weekend jaunts to Las Vegas or the Caribbean and "working" celebrity-packed Manhattan fashion shows.

Now, she's a second-year dermatology resident at Stanford, married and the mother of a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old. In a recent interview, I chatted with Geraghty about her career change, future plans, skin cancer, acne, and even tattoos. About the latter, she told me:

Tattoos can be safe if done by a reputable professional using new and sterilized equipment. There is a risk of transmitting communicable diseases, including hepatitis, if needles are re-used or are not sterilized. There are a variety of different itchy, red, skin reactions that people can get from tattoo ink, especially red ink, which contains mercury sulfide, and that can be hard to deal with when it happens.

But tattoos don’t have to be forever. Skin lasers can break down tattoo ink within the skin, though the treatments can be painful and expensive. Some say the laser removal is more painful than getting the tattoo. Red tattoo ink is by far the most difficult color to remove and has the highest risk of causing a skin reaction, so avoiding red may be a good choice

And for Geraghty herself? No tattoos. "When I went away to college, my mother told me she would not pay my tuition if I ever came home with a tattoo. So I never did."

Previously: Skin cancer linked to UV-caused mutation in new oncogene, say Stanford researchers, Ask Stanford Med: A focus on on scleroderma, New study: Genes may affect skin youthfulness
Photo by Norbert von der Groeben

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