Vitamin A – Retinoids, the Anti-Aging Ingredient

RetinoidsWe prescribe retinoids often at Vanguard because they work. Many of us also use retinoids at home. You may be more familiar with retinoids under names like Retin-A, Renova, tretinoin, or Clara Bright Custom Blend. Retinoids were originally intended to treat acne. However, researchers found that retinoids can also reduce fine lines, wrinkles, spots, and UV damage. There is more clinical data supporting retinoids as the anti-aging ingredient, versus any other skincare ingredient.

Despite the wonder of retinoids, many people are frustrated about the side effects. Redness, peeling, and sensitivity are common. Our response—this means the retinoid is working! Power through it, because after you get through the initial weeks, you’ll see renewed skin.

Here is our advice on using your retinoid:

  • Do not use in combination with anti-aging or acne products containing glycolic acid, salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, unless directed by your medical provider.

  • Start slowly and work your way up. Many times, we start a patient on a lower strength retinoid and have patients gradually build up to a higher strength. The application of retinoids happens the same way. Start by using it once every 3 nights, then once every 2 nights, then daily. Once you are comfortable with your lower strength retinoid, we may increase your prescription strength.

  • Make sure you are applying the right way. After you wash your face at night, wait 15-20 minutes or use a pH balancing toner. Your skin’s pH needs to return to baseline for optimal penetration. Your skin should also be completely dry. Then, apply a pea size amount beginning with your forehead, then your nose, followed by cheeks and mouth. The skin around your mouth is he most sensitive so application should be lighter in that area. Avoid eyelids and lips.

  • Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day because you will be extra sensitive in the sun.

Stick with it, because after 6 weeks, you will see results. After 18 weeks, you will notice skin that is clearer with improvement in texture and fine lines.

Colorado Springs 32nd Annual Leadership Prayer Breakfast

Colorado Springs 32nd Annual

Leadership Prayer Breakfast


Antlers Hotel

4 South Cascade Avenue, Colorado Springs, CO 80903

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

7:00a.m. - 8:30a.m.

Featuring Vinh Chung, M.D.

Vinh Chung, MD

Vinh Chung was born in Vietnam and grew up in Arkansas as one of 11 children. He graduated from Harvard with a BA in biology and attended Harvard Medical School for his MD. Dr. Chung and his wife Leisle have four children and run a successful dermatology practice.

Come hear the amazing story of Vinh Chung and his family of ten as they fled communist Vietnam for a better life in America. Their story takes them out into the dangerous South China Sea on a small fishing boat, exposed to barbaric Thai pirates, thirst and hunger, and unreceptive governments of foreign shores. Having been rescued by a World Vision mercy ship, the Chung family made their way to America. The story is both riveting and inspiring in its tale of hope, perseverance and rescue.

To purchase tickets, please use this Ticket Order Form. Both tables and individual seats are available.

Show Your Valentine How Much You Care

This Valentine’s Day, we want to encourage you to screen the one you love for skin cancer. It is now estimated that there are over 5 million cases of skin cancer a year, making it the most common form of cancer. Fortunately, most skin cancers are curable if detected early.

So show your Valentine how much you care, by helping him or her check for skin cancer. This should be in addition to your annual skin exam from a dermatologist. 

Here are instructions on how to perform a skin check.

If you notice anything changing, growing, bleeding, or unusual, schedule an appointment.

Skin Cancer Screening

Skin Problems Can Occur Anywhere

We want our patients to feel comfortable and unashamed of dermatologic conditions that can occur anywhere.

As a medical dermatology practice, we have seen a full range of skin conditions including external genital issues (warts, rashes, pain, pruritus) and disorders such as hidradenitis suppurativa, lichen sclerosus et atrophicus and eczematous rashes of the genitals. We have even diagnosed and treated skin cancers in the genital area for men and women.

The reason we share this is because patients with these conditions sometimes feel embarrassed and may delay treatment. We want you to know that these conditions are not uncommon and that you should never feel embarrassed about seeking medical help.

In particular, for women, Emily Reynolds FNP-BC is a dermatology nurse practitioner who has training in women’s dermatological conditions. She sees patients in Broadmoor, Woodland Park, and the new Pueblo office.

For men, Dr. Michael Leslie is a highly-trained dermatologist who handles our most challenging dermatological skin conditions, particularly rashes that are difficult to diagnose.

Our goal is for you feel good about your skin, from head to toe. Thank you for the privilege of caring for you, and we honor your trust and privacy.

New Year Message from Dr. Vinh Chung

Vanguard Staff

I’m often told that Vanguard Skin Specialists has the friendliest and most professional staff members around. This is one of the greatest compliments I can receive personally, because my staff is a reflection of what I hold dear. We carefully select staff members who believe medicine is a calling and care for others with a servant heart. Many staff members work at Vanguard Skin Specialists for a few years before going to Physician Assistant or Medical School, as part of our formal pre-health professional program. Eventually, these young people become medical providers in our community and across this country. This is why I beam proudly, when you notice how wonderful they are.

We have grown over the years, but what has remained unchanged is our commitment to take care of patients like family. That’s why when you call, you will get a live person on the phone. After hours, you will be directed to my personal cell phone number. If you have surgery, you will have the personal cell phone number of your surgeon. We will walk with you through the entire medical experience, from the beginning to the end. This is the only way that I want to practice medicine, and I’m proud to build a team that feels the same.

I am grateful that you entrust us with your medical care. Thank you for this sacred privilege.

I wish you and your family good health and peace in the coming new year.

          Vinh Chung, MD

          Founder / Mohs Surgeon

Could an Allergy Be Causing Your Rashes? (Rachel Frederickson, PA-C)

Do you have a persistent rash or an unpredictable rash that goes away and then returns?

If you are suffering from an unusual rash that doesn’t completely respond to treatment, you may have contact dermatitis. This rash can occur anywhere on the body and may involve swollen, dry, itchy, red patches and sometimes small blisters on the skin. You may be coming into contact with substances which you are allergic to or that are irritating your skin.

The best course of treatment is to find the cause of the contact dermatitis and to avoid it.  This could potentially cure your rash.  Allergy patch testing can help identify the substances which may be triggering the irritation or allergic reaction.

Allergy patch testing is a painless, needle free process which takes place over two visits. The tests are customized to you, based on your medical history, occupation, environment and skin care products you may use. These visits are covered by most insurance plans if other treatments for your rash have failed.

For any irritants or allergens that are identified, we will provide counseling on how to avoid and/or manage the symptoms of contact dermatitis.  As members of the American Contact Dermatitis Society, we provide all our patients with customized safe product lists that make it easier to find personal care products that are free of their allergens.

Moles: What Exactly Does It Mean When They’re Atypical? (Vinh Chung, MD)

Beauty spot, birthmark, blemish, freckle. There are a few different names for them and we all have them, but what exactly are moles? This month, we provide some clarity on moles and tips on what to look for if they begin to change.

What is a mole?

Moles are caused when cells in the skin called melanocytes grow in clusters or clumps within surrounding tissue. Melanocytes produce melanin, a pigment that provides skin with its color. When the melanocytes clump together, they continue producing melanin, resulting in a higher concentration of melanin in that area. This concentration of melanin is what gives a mole its darker color. Since each individual has a different level of pigmentation in their skin, moles can vary in color.

ABCDE’s of Moles:

We’ve all heard that we should keep an eye on our moles to make sure they don’t change. But just what changes should we be looking for?

A- Asymmetry: When one half of the mole does not match the other half
B- Border: When the border or edges of the moles are blurred or irregular
C- Color: When the color of the mole is not the same throughout, or when there are shades of tan, red, white, or blue in the mole
D- Diameter: When the mole is larger than the diameter of a pencil eraser, although melanomas can sometimes be much smaller
E- Evolution: When the mole changes in size, shape, elevation, or color. Most normal moles remain the same for years.

If you notice any similar changes or if the appearance of a mole worries you, you should see your dermatologist immediately. Your dermatologist can determine whether the mole is malignant and decide the best treatment option.

What does it mean when a mole is atypical?

Moles can develop and change over time and become atypical. A biopsy is the best way to determine if a mole is atypical.

There are 3 stages of atypia: mild, moderate, and severe. While an atypical mole is NOT skin cancer, these lesions DO have a higher probability of continuing to develop in an atypical fashion into skin cancer, specifically melanoma. Thus, we always recommend complete removal of all moderately to severe atypical moles to eliminate the risk of future skin cancer in that spot.

A great way to think about the levels of atypia is a continuum:


Check yourself regularly, and see your dermatologist once a year for a thorough screening (more frequently for those with a history of skin cancer).

We take care of you like family

"Take care of each and every patient as if that person is a member of your family." That is what our leadership team teaches during staff training.

That is why. . .

  • When you call us, a live person will answer all your questions and help you schedule an appointment. We try to answer each and every call, so that you don't have to navigate a confusing message with lots of options.
  • When our appointment wait time gets too long, we open evening and weekend clinics to alleviate the wait. We know when you have a concerning lesion, you need to be seen right away.
  • When you have surgery, our doctors will give you their personal cell phone numbers. It's the same phone number they give to their own family members.
  • When you are in our office, you are surrounded by upbeat and compassionate people. We really are happy to see you.

Thank you for being part of our Vanguard family.

Just for Men

Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there. In the spirit of this month, we want to tailor this message to men.

It’s common knowledge that men do not take care of their skin as well as women. Some of you have admitted to us how little time you spend taking care of your skin -- you wash your face in the shower by using the suds from the shampoo, you never moisturize, and sunscreen is an afterthought.

But there is one area where we want all of our male patients to focus -- skin cancer prevention.

A 2015 study by the Skin Cancer Foundation shows that. . .

  • Only 51% of U.S. men report using sunscreen in the past 12 months
  • 70% of men do not know the warning signs of skin cancer
  • Men are 2x more likely than women to die of melanoma

You can make very small and simple changes to reduce your risk.

  1. Know whether you are at high risk, because then you must be particularly vigilant about skin protection and early detection. You are a man at risk if. . .
    • You are over the age of 50
    • You have had a mole removed in the past of premalignant lesions in the past
    • You have a family history of skin cancer
    • You have fairer skin (although all skin types can develop skin cancer)
  1. Wear a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least 30 SPF. It should be part of your daily routine, just like brushing your teeth in the morning.

  2. Get an annual skin exam and check yourself out every month in the mirror.

  3. If you see a spot that is new, changing, or just won't go away, call us right away. Most skin cancer is treatable and curable if detected early.

Skincare for the Holidays

Vanguard Skin Specialists

We all want to look our best throughout the holiday season, but that's also one of the hardest times to take care of your skin. Holiday goodies, skipping exercise, harsher weather conditions and the added stress can make it hard to achieve a holiday glow. Here are our tips for beautiful skin for now through the New Year.

(1) Combat dry, winter skin

  • As we turn on our heaters and fireplaces to stay warm, we are often creating a “beef jerky machine” to live in. In order to prevent that, use a humidifier in your bedroom. Your skin regenerates as you sleep and using a humidifier will help to soothe dry, parched skin. In the morning, your skin will thank you.

  • Bathe with lukewarm water. Using hot water can actually break down the lipid barriers in the skin, which can lead to a loss of moisture.

  • Every winter, dry and chapped lips affect us all. During this season, it’s actually best to avoid medicated lip balms. Oftentimes, these can actually worsen dry lips. Instead, we recommend using Aquaphor or plain Vaseline to seal in moisture. If you are outdoors, use a lip balm with SPF protection such as EltaMD lip balm with SPF31

(2) Continue to protect your skin

  • Always be sure to use sunscreen. Anytime you’re outside, you are exposing your skin to harmful UV rays. In the winter, those UV rays reflect off the snow and can intensify the damage your skin receives from the sun. If you’re heading outside to build a snowman, put up lights, or shred some snow, remember to reapply your sunscreen every 2 hours.

(3) Watch out for holiday scents

  • For those of you that have skin that is sensitive to fragrances, the holiday season can be difficult. Aside from avoiding fragrances in your personal care products, you may also need to avoid air fresheners and scented candles that are so popular during the holidays.

(4) Plan ahead for aesthetic treatments

  • The busiest time at Vanguard is always December, as patients have met year-end deductibles. We open a Saturday clinic, and we open during most of Christmas week. If you need to be seen by end of year, especially for surgery or procedures, please book well in advance.

  • For merry and bright looking skin for all your holiday festivities, consider Clara MediSpa’s Laser Genesis. Laser Genesis penetrates to the dermis layer to stimulate collagen production in order reduce the appearance of fine lines.  It also addresses redness and enlarged pores, creating an airbrushed appearance.  With zero down time, it's our recommended treatment before a big event.

  • Some treatments are ideal for the winter time, because most people are spending more times indoors and getting less UV exposure.  In particular, treatments for discoloration and brown spots are popular in the winter time.  Laser hair removal is also a great winter treatment, since you'll be out of the sun.  

(5) Make a new year resolution

  • Skin cancer can appear anywhere. At Vanguard Skin Specialists, we encourage thorough skin exams from head to toe. Check yourself regularly, and see your dermatology provider once a year for a thorough screening (more frequently for those with a history of skin cancer).  Make it a new year resolution.  Most skin cancers are treatable and curable if detected early.

Clara MediSpa

Aesthetic Medicine

Brought to you by the founders of Vanguard Skin Specialists.