On the Surface

Appears in the July 2021 issue.

Benjamin Raab

After finishing medical school at the University of Michigan and a dermatology residency at the University of Chicago, Dr. Benjamin Raab knew he wanted to spend his career with a focus on the skin.

“To me, it was one of the best specialties,” he says. “It includes all age groups and you do everything—medical, surgical, and cosmetic. It’s very concrete, and it’s also very visual.” Outside of teaching, Raab has honed and studied the field his entire career at his solo medical practice, Dermatology & Cosmetic Skin Surgery (napervilledermatology.com), which he opened in 1984. The practice has offices in both Aurora and Yorkville, with on-site surgery centers.

The external and visual nature of dermatology requires that patients have more involvement in the overall health of their skin, and he advises patients to examine it once a month, without fail.

“If there is anything new on your skin and you don’t know what it is, you should have it checked,” he advises. “Skin cancer is 100 percent curable if people are on top of it—we can see it as it develops.” If you have a family history that includes a higher risk for cancer, skin should be professionally examined every six months, he advises.
Raab would like everyone—not just people at risk—to adopt a more conservative approach to sun exposure, especially in the summer months. “We don’t realize it, but the sun is a carcinogen,” he says. “Sun destroys the skin, just like smoking destroys the lungs. There needs to be a consciousness about the importance of covering the skin, and we need to make that a lifestyle.”

Although he acknowledges that people need a little sun exposure for vitamin D—maybe five to 10 minutes, he says—that’s not enough to damage the skin. Shade, clothing, and sun screen with a high SPF are everyone’s first line of defense.

“I personally like to wear hats—I wear a hat everywhere I go to protect my face. My daughter plays tennis and I bring my chair with a built-in umbrella. There is a lot of equipment now that people can use.”
In addition to the medical aspects of skin cancer detection and surgery, Raab also specializes in cosmetic skin procedures—including laser treatments—which can repair the damaging effects of the sun. There are several treatments available to regenerate skin cells and improve wrinkles, tone, texture, and discoloration.

“The skin is a reflection of general health,” says Raab. “Know your skin. Have it checked out. It’s never too late to fix it—that’s the good news. We can reverse a lot of changes with today’s technology.”

Photo courtesy Benjamin Raab