Dermatology duo: ‘Saving people’s lives is ultimate goal’

PHOTO BY KAILA JONES

The partnership of Drs. Anand and Divya Haryani was a lifetime in the making. Their fathers went to medical school together and their families were friends in Chicago. They had a long-distance relationship for seven years while attending different medical schools and eventually got married. Now, they work together here in their own private dermatology practice.

Dr. Anand grew up in Chicago while Dr. Divya moved to Vero Beach at a young age with family and attended St. Edward’s lower and upper schools. He attended Northwestern University and completed his training at the world-renowned Cook County Hospital in Chicago. She was educated in Florida, attending the University of Central Florida College of Medicine and completing her residency in dermatology at the University of South Florida.

While she finished her residency in Tampa, he worked at Tampa’s James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital and was on faculty at USF. Finally, when both had completed their medical training and were board-certified dermatologists, the stars aligned, and they moved to Vero Beach to set up their practice and raise a family.

“I wanted to move back to Vero Beach to serve the community I grew up in,” said Dr. Divya. “Of course, being close to the family was also a factor. We wanted to bring the education we had from Northwestern, Moffitt and all the places we’ve been, back here to Vero Beach.”

“We also felt that we could make a bigger impact in a smaller town,” added Dr. Anand. “We pride ourselves on being cutting edge and keeping current with all the latest research and procedures to treat skin cancers.”

“The skin is the largest organ in the body and it really reflects what’s going on internally,” continued Dr. Divya. “A lot of systemic diseases show up on your skin and the information from your insides also shows up on your skin. Your mental health is also affected when something is going on with your skin. Helping people feel good and more confident was one of the main reasons I went into dermatology. Of course, saving people’s lives by diagnosing and treating melanoma is the ultimate goal.”

“Our focus is really on prevention and removal of skin cancer,” explained Dr. Divya. “Florida is No. 2 in the nation for occurrences of skin cancer, with 1 in 5 chances of developing some type of the disease. There are three types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.”

According to the doctors, your first line of defense is to stay out of direct sunlight. If you notice any spots that have changed size, shape or color, you should get it examined by a board-certified dermatologist. Suspicious lesions are biopsied and examined by a pathologist to see if cancer is detected.

Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer and can be deadly if not detected and treated early. The warning signs to look for are called the ABCDE’s of melanoma.
A is for Asymmetry: One half the mole does not match the other half.

B is for Border irregularity: The edges are ragged, notched or blurred.

C is for Color that varies from one area to another.

D is for Diameter: Melanomas are usually greater than 6mm or about the size of a pencil eraser when diagnosed, but they can be smaller.

E is for Evolving: A mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color.

Both doctors are board certified in Mohs micrographic surgery, an advanced treatment for certain types of skin cancer that offers a 99 percent cure rate, while minimizing the cosmetic impact of the treatment.

Skin cancer is removed one layer at a time, with the minimal number of margins. After each specimen is removed, it is examined under a microscope by the same surgeon who removed it, to determine whether cancer cells remain in the skin. It’s processed in a way that gives the surgeon a 360-degree margin so he or she can see every aspect of what’s been removed and what remains.

“Mohs surgery is very different than a traditional incision. It’s the gold standard of treatment and nothing else will give you the same success rate,” said Dr. Anand, “Not all dermatologists are certified to perform Mohs surgery or have the lab equipment to read the results. The key question to ask your doctor is if the same person who is cutting the specimen is the same person reading the slides. That one question will eliminate any doubt.”

Yearly screening by your board-certified dermatologist is so important in Dr. Anand’s opinion that he is working with the Visiting Nurse Association to set up free, quarterly skin cancer screenings, and cancer awareness talks within the community. He’s also on the VNA board. “We can look for the most dangerous types and evaluate it. We need to let people know that skin cancer is preventable and that there are treatments to prevent pre-cancer from developing into full blown skin cancer.”

The husband-and-wife team are also involved in the Sun Protection Outreach Teaching (SPOTS) program which allowed them to visit elementary schools in the Tampa/Orlando areas so that they could teach the dangers of sun exposure to children at an early age.
The pandemic curtailed their school visits in Vero last year, but they intend to start up again soon. “If we can educate children early to wear their sunscreen whenever they go outside, they won’t make the same mistakes we did putting on baby oil and soaking in the sun,” explained Dr. Divya. “We hope to start up this program in Vero soon since COVID is diminishing.”

Dr. Anand had planned to help the community in an additional way when he was chosen to be in Vero’s ‘Dancing with the Stars’ benefit for Healthy Start Coalition. “Unfortunately, it was postponed due to COVID in 2020 and canceled this year,” he said. “But maybe I’ll still be invited to perform in 2021. It’s all for a good cause.”

The Haryanis say their patients are treated like family. They’re both board certified and trained in all facets of dermatology including medical dermatology, cosmetic surgery, facial rejuvenation and skin cancer surgery. Their office is located at 8745 N. U.S. 1 in Sebastian just north of county road 510. To schedule an appointment, call 772-217-5362.

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