Drs. Khonnie Wongkittiroch and Matthew Zarraga

Skin in the Game

An elite new dermatology practice offers many services – and good advice on staying safe in a South Florida summer

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Editor

Published date: 

Jul. 2, 2015

At Z-ROC Dermatology, you can get everything your skin needs in one place.

The Oakland Park Boulevard dermatology practice offers medical dermatological procedures as well as cosmetic procedures such as Botox. They sell an exclusive line of skincare products and offer surgical and non-surgical skincare. Labs and surgical suites are in-house – so surgical work can be done there, and there’s no waiting around to get results “back from the lab.”

‘We are with our patients through every step of the process,” says Dr. Khonnie Wongkittiroch, one of the doctors behind the practice. “We are able to — in real time while the patient waits — examine tissue.”

The doctors are proud of it – and they want to use it to help educate residents about the particulars of good, safe skincare.

Dr. Wongkittiroch and Dr. Matthew Zarraga opened the practice a little more than a year ago. Their location means they see plenty of people who spend their days in the sun.

“It has easy access to downtown and we’re also very close to the beach, and Wilton Manors is there as well,” Dr. Zarraga says. “We don’t have a huge snowbird population, but we do have access to them when they come down. Most of our patients are local.”

And among that local community, taking care of skin is massively important.

“Fort Lauderdale being a beach community, we feel it’s very important to raise awareness,” Dr. Wongkittiroch says. “We’re big proponents of education. The recommendation from the American Academy of Dermatology is a once-a-year skin check. It’s really important that people know they need to get a yearly skin exam.”

That simple precaution goes a long way towards protecting people from the sun’s most harmful effects.

“Most skin cancers are curable in their entirety if they’re caught early,” Dr. Wongkittiroch says. It’s when they’re ignored – when they’re presumed to be a harmless mole, for example – that they can prove serious, even deadly.

People are more educated than they used to be on skin health, but not always as educated as they could be.

“There’s still room for improvement,” Dr. Wongkittiroch says. “I think a lot of people still really don’t understand the impact of what the sun does. 

Usually most people just know that the sun can be dangerous, you can get cancers,” she says, but they don’t understand as much of the specifics.

Take melanoma. The doctors advise patients to check for it – and they educate them on how to do that.

“We need to make sure our patients know exactly what they’re looking for,” Dr. Wongkittiroch says.

In the case of melanoma, that means looking for the “ABCDEs.” “A” stands for “asymmetrical shape”, which melanoma lesions typically are, as opposed to symmetrical, benign moles. “B” stands for “border” – non-cancerous mole borders are smooth and easy to see, while melanoma lesions have uneven, poorly defined borders. “C” stands for colour – melanoma lesions are usually multicolored, unlike benign moles. “D” stands for “diameter” – melanoma lesions typically check in at more than six-mm. “E” is one of the most important, “evolution.” If you have a mole, it’s important to note changes.

It’s that sort of knowledge that the doctors look to impart to patients.

“These are all really important characteristics that we would have the patient tell us,” Dr. Wongkittiroch says.