Healing With Light
Director of Pediatric Dermatology Lisa Arkin, MD, specializes in using laser to treat patients with vascular stains, often called port-wine birthmarks.
Dr. Arkin first became interested in working with lasers when an infant came in desperately ill from an infected infantile hemangioma, a rare complication in a common benign vascular birthmark. The girl was only 5 weeks old, and survived the infection, but was left with permanent facial scarring.
Dr. Arkin searched for a way to help this young patient, and ended up training with specialists at Harvard to learn a state-of-the-art laser treatment for patients with scarring. “With their help and mentorship, this beautiful little girl improved,” Dr. Arkin recalls, “and I fell in love with the idea of using light – in the form of lasers – to heal children.”
Now, Dr. Arkin is pushing the boundaries of laser treatment by combining it with new research that shows that vascular stains like birthmarks and port-wine stains are caused by the same genetic changes that cause cancer. The experimental treatment will use genetic testing to develop a personalized treatment plan for each patient. She is hopeful to eventually combine a targeted topical drug therapy with a personalized laser plan for each patient in a clinical trial.
“This has never been done before for vascular stains. I am very excited to be offering cutting-edge, precision-based care to patients with birthmarks and vascular stains in our area and beyond. These birthmarks are stigmatizing, and over time they get larger, and eventually can begin to inhibit basic functions. Thinking about stigma, and how a child thinks about themselves with a birthmark, is a major part of what we offer as dermatologists.”
Dr. Arkin’s research will enroll patients who meet specific criteria. This research is financially supported by philanthropy and patient-advocacy organizations, including the Sturge Weber Foundation, the Pediatric Dermatology Research Alliance, and the Dermatology Foundation.
Active Clinical Trials
Dr. Arkin on…
Research to me is about solving problems for patient. It’s about asking a question that can be answered in a data-driven way to create novel solutions.
I’m constantly trying to provide the most precision-based treatment for each patient, guided by the evidence we have, and the needs of the family and the patient.
I love working with residents! I love the challenge of getting to chase your own curiosity, asking questions that move the front for all patients. I get to touch hundreds of thousands of lives by contributing information that moves the field for everyone.
Her favorite memory from Medical School
Every year, we would put on a show called ‘Spoof,’ a collaborative effort between faculty and students to sort of poke fun at ourselves. I previously worked in entertainment, so I got relive my roots, and it was just a great time, and a pretty good show every year!
I also valued working with patients in areas that would not be my specialty, like delivering babies or working in the NICU (I was never going to be an OB), or holding the hands of elderly patients in their last days. Sometimes all you can do as a medical student, when you are still learning, is to sit and listen to your patients, and heal with kindness.
1 South Park Dermatology Clinic
Madison Surgery Center
American Family Children’s Hospital