The blistering hot days of north texas are almost here. Even with three-digit record-breaking heat last year, we managed to get out and enjoy our summertime hanging out poolside, playing golf, boating, fishing, riding bicycles, and more. While we were enjoying ourselves in the great outdoors, an invisible culprit was wreaking havoc on our skin—the sun’s harmful uv (ultra violet) rays, which cause sun damage, skin aging, and skin cancer.

If you think skin cancer happens to others but not you, consider this: One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime, and over 3.5 million people in the U.S. will be diagnosed this year with some type of skin cancer, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Those of us who live in the intense, bright sun of Texas, are especially at risk.

Luckily, Dallas is home to Thornwell Parker, III, MD, a skin cancer specialist who has treated thousands for skin cancer, as well as skin damage. Dr. Parker is also one of only several doctors in the world who is a dual-trained plastic surgeon and Mohs surgeon. Mohs micrographic surgery is a highly specialized treatment for the total removal of skin cancer.

Dr. Parker, who has dedicated his practice to skin health, offers specialized in-office skin cancer treatment—both removal and reconstruction. Combining Mohs surgery with his extensive training and experience in cosmetic surgery and reconstructive plastic surgery (with particular expertise in reconstruction of the face, including the nose, ears, lips, and eyelids), Dr. Parker treats skin cancers of any size in any location on the body. This unique combination of expertise allows him to prioritize the cosmetic outcome while also achieving the highest cure rates for skin cancer removal. He also provides customized cosmetic skin care services that address skin aging, help erase or minimize sun damage, and may even help reduce the possibility of developing skin cancer later on.

We recently interviewed Dr. Parker about skin cancer and Mohs surgery, as well as medical aesthetic services that help keep your skin healthy, fresh-looking, and glowing.

INFORM: Dr. Parker, your practice is focused on treating skin cancer and aging skin. What would you like our readers to know?
Dr. Parker: At Skin Cancer Consultants, our mission is serve others by promoting skin health through prevention, intervention, and rejuvenation. These are the three pillars of our practice. We treat everything from sun damage and skin cancer to skin aging, catering to each patient’s need. We also work closely with referring dermatologists, plastic surgeons, and other doctors to coordinate the best possible care for patients.  We’re also on a mission to educate the public. Most people don’t fully understand skin cancer, available treatments, and skin damage.

INFORM: Cancer is a scary subject. What should people know about avoiding skin cancer?
Dr. Parker: There’s a lot of talk about cancer prevention, from the foods we consume to lifestyle choices. When it comes to skin cancer and sun damage, we recommend taking steps that are fairly easy to follow. Imagine being able to say that about breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, or prostate cancer, for example! The best way to help prevent skin cancer is to stay out of the sun whenever possible and wear sunscreen and protective clothing. Sunscreen should be of good quality, broad spectrum coverage, SPF 15 and higher, and used on a daily basis. Make it part of your daily routine: brush your hair, brush your teeth, and put your sunscreen on.

INFORM: It’s not that easy to stay out of the sun.
Dr. Parker: That’s true, and I’m a good example. I love outdoor activities, boating, and water sports. Being highly aware of the damage UV (ultra violet) rays can cause, I always apply sunscreen before going outside. When outdoors, I seek out shade, wear protective clothing, and always have sunscreen available to reapply for sustained protection.

INFORM: Why is it important to catch skin cancer as early as possible?
Dr. Parker: Early detection will hopefully catch skin cancers while they are small, minimizing the size of the excision, and therefore maximizing the cosmetic and functional results.  But even more important, delayed detection and delayed treatment may allow cancerous tumors may spread to vital organs, becoming deadly.

INFORM: Why did you decide to specialize in both plastic surgery and Mohs surgery?
Dr. Parker: I wanted to offer top-notch treatment for skin cancer and the best way to do this is with appropriate training. The Mohs method offers excellent outcomes and the highest cure rate for skin cancer—99 percent or better for basal cell and melanoma. Plastic surgery gives me the ability to address any wound we may encounter and create a superior cosmetic end-result.

INFORM: What exactly is Mohs surgery, in layman terms, and what kind of additional training is required?
Dr. Parker: One or two years of additional training is required to complete an accredited fellowship. In my case, this was following completion of full training as a plastic and reconstructive surgeon.

Mohs surgery is a state-of-the-art procedure that allows the precise removal of cancerous tissue while sparing healthy tissue. Unfortunately, skin cancer can be deeper or wider than what’s visible on the surface. Mohs is a careful, layer by layer removal that includes a complete microscopic examination of all the tissues surgically removed. Detailed mapping techniques allow me to remove the entire lesion while keeping the wound as small as possible.

INFORM: Mohs sounds like a time-consuming and tedious procedure. What should patients expect?
Dr. Parker: Mohs surgery does require some patience. After tissue is removed, patient stay at or near the office until the results are back. When the cancer is found to be wider or deeper, the patient returns for removal of an additional layer. This is repeated until the cancer is gone, and then the patient goes home knowing all their cancer has been removed. This is usually performed under the safety of local anesthesia, so patients can eat and drink like normal, and usually drive themselves to and from the office.

INFORM: As a plastic surgeon, do you offer purely cosmetic surgery in addition to what you perform in conjunction with skin cancer treatment?
Dr. Parker: Yes, but we typically don’t advertise or offer it to the general public. These services are primarily available to our preexisting patients who already know and trust us. Patients most often request facial rejuvenation: eyelid surgery, facelifts, and brow lifts. Occasionally, we will perform these procedures at the same time as their reconstructive surgery for skin cancer.

INFORM: Changing the subject, how would you describe the environment in your office?
Dr. Parker: I am continually humbled by the compliments patients and doctors give. Although nobody wants to have cancer surgery, patients tell us they love coming to our office because of a positive, friendly, and compassionate environment combined an excellence in care. We have an exceptional team from the front office to the nurses to our aesthetician. We love what we do, and we love our patients!


Smooth, vibrant, healthy skin is the foundation for looking and feeling young at any age. Dr. Parker and his team offer services that restore and rejuvenate your skin, improving the signs of aging, addressing sun-damage, and potentially reducing the occurrence of skin cancer.

Dr. Parker and licensed aesthetician Marni Davidow, who has over 12 years of experience, provide leading-edge skincare with both surgical and non-surgical approaches to skin rejuvenation. Specializing in treating such conditions as sun damage, acne, rosacea, pigment disorders, dry skin, fine lines, age spots, and wrinkles, Marni works wonders, helping women and men of all ages love their skin.

Services include laser treatments, photofacial, photodynamic therapy, a variety of peels, BOTOX, dermal fillers, skin polishing and resurfacing, and dermaplaning. Dermaplaning is a method of controlled surgical “scraping” that can be used alone or in conjunction with other procedures. Skincepts also carries professional skincare product lines that will help you perfect and maintain your skin.

Dr. Parker noted, “At Skincepts we prefer that all patients undergo physician screening for skin cancers and precancers before treatment for skin aging—something that you’re unlikely to get at a typical day spa. Unfortunately, skin cancers are sometimes masked by cosmetic skin care procedures, and precancerous spots, left untreated, have a 10 percent likelihood of developing into skin cancer. These should be addressed before some skin care procedures are begun.  Interestingly, many treatments for sun damage and precancerous damage also have the added benefit of rejuvenating your skin.”

“After evaluating your skin, we can give you professional guidance in developing a skin care and treatment regimen that is customized to your unique skin type and personal objectives,” Marni said. “Our complimentary consultation will give you the tools you need to make educated decisions in caring for your skin.”


During each consultation, Dr. Parker reviews various skin cancer treatment options with his patients, educating them so they can make an informed decision. Options include Mohs surgery, traditional surgical excision, electrodesiccation and curettage, cryotherapy, radiation therapy as well as topcial chemotherapy treatments. Most patients chose Mohs surgery because it has the best cure rates and also helps keep the resulting skin defect as small as possible.


Referred to Dr. Parker by her primary care physician, at 50 years of age Allison had two lesions on her face. The lesion on her nose was squamous cell carcinoma.

“During Alli’s initial visit she was examined and then counseled about the need for removal of her skin cancer,” Dr. Parker said. “She opted for Mohs surgery followed by plastic surgery reconstruction, with excellent results.”

Alli also had substantial sun damage. Dr. Parker counseled her about preventive skin treatments including photodynamic therapy, chemical and laser peels, cryotherapy, 5-fluorouracil treatment, and retin-a.

Alli was extremely happy with her results, and has subsequently undergone other cosmetic procedures at Skincepts including Botox, dermaplaning, and light chemical peels. She also uses the recommended professional skin care products to keep her skin bright and healthy-looking.


Holly is 28-year-old female who works as a model, actress, and style consultant. She has a light complexion, brown hair, green eyes, and a poor ability to tan. She had no personal history of skin cancer but her father had a history of basal cell skin cancer, as well as her grandfather. She was referred to Dr. Parker by her dermatologist for a new spot on her forehead which was biopsied and diagnosed as a basal cell cancer.

“Because of the size and location of the hole after Mohs surgical removal, plastic surgery repair was performed utilizing a technique called a rotation flap, designed to hide the scar along her hairline. Holly has healed extremely well,” Dr. Parker said.


At age 47, Lori, a fair-skinned, blue-eyed blond, had no previous history of skin cancer in the family. At the time of her visit to Dr. Parker, she had no known skin cancer, but did have a spot on her back that she was concerned about. Fortunately the spot was benign, but Dr. Parker discovered a spot on her left forehead that was concerning. A biopsy confirmed basal cell carcinoma.

“The incision on Lori’s forehead after Mohs surgery was closed using plastic surgery techniques to achieve a very fine line scar, with excellent aesthetic results,” Dr. Parker commented.

Also during her initial consultation, it was noted that Lori had rosacea, a very common benign skin condition that is often hereditary, typically in those of English, Irish and Scottish heritage. Different treatments were discussed with Lori including oral medication, topical gels, as well as laser treatments. Lori has seen Dr. Parker’s aesthetician, Marni, and has photofacials for rosacea, as well chemical peels, and dermaplaining. Lori is very excited about the results of her cancer surgery as well as her skin care.

Disclaimer: Although these are typical results, patient results may vary—some better, some worse.


The direct Texas sun makes us very susceptible to skin cancer, the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. Skin cancer occurs when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells triggers mutations that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors that can spread.


Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer but the slowest to grow and spread. BCCs are abnormal, uncontrolled growths in the skin’s basal cells, which line the deepest layer of the epidermis. BCCs often look like open sores, red patches, pink growths, shiny bumps or scars.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) the second most common form of skin cancer, is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal squamous cells, which compose most of the skin’s upper layers (epidermis). SCCs often look like scaly red patches, open sores, warts, and nodules, which may crust or bleed. SCC is mainly caused by cumulative UV exposure over the course of a lifetime. It can become disfiguring and sometimes deadly if untreated.

Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is a cancerous growth that develops when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells (most often caused by ultraviolet radiation from sun or tanning beds) triggers mutations that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors. These tumors originate in the pigment-producing melanocytes in the basal layer of the epidermis. Melanomas often resemble atypical moles; some develop from moles. The majority of melanomas are black or brown, but they can also be skin-colored, pink, red, purple, blue or white. If melanoma is detected and treated early, it’s almost always curable. If it is not detected and treated early, the cancer can advance and spread to other parts of the body, where it becomes difficult to treat and can be fatal.


• There are more new cases of skin cancer diagnosed annually in the U.S. than breast prostate, lung and colon cancer combined.

• About 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.

• One or more blistering sunburns in childhood or adolescence more than double a person’s chances of developing melanoma later in life.

• A person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns at any age.

• Actinic keratosis is the most common precancer, affecting more than 58 million Americans. Approximately 65 percent of all squamous cell carcinomas arise in lesions that previously were diagnosed as actinic keratoses.

• People with atypical moles (dysplastic nevi), are at an increased risk of developing single or multiple melanomas.



Almost everyone who frequents a tanning salon or exposes themselves to the sun is putting themselves at risk for skin cancer.

“There’s no such thing as safe tanning, whether you are indoors or outdoors,” Dr. Parker warns. “Cumulative damage caused by UV radiation whether from the sun or a tanning bed, can lead to premature skin aging as well as skin cancer.

1. Indoor ultraviolet (UV) tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors. Ten minutes in a sunbed matches the cancer-causing effects of 10 minutes in the Mediterranean summer sun.

2. Frequent tanners using new high-pressure sunlamps may receive as much as 12 times the annual UVA dose compared to the dose they receive from sun exposure.

3. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, an affiliate of the World Health Organization, includes ultraviolet (UV) tanning devices in its Group 1, a list of the most dangerous cancer-causing substances. Group 1 also includes agents such as plutonium, cigarettes, and solar UV radiation.



Walking the dog, trips to and from the car, taking your kids to the park—it all adds up. Even if you aren’t outside for an extended period of time, wearing sunscreen is essential.

“Your morning routine should always include applying a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least an SPF of 15, to areas of the skin that can be exposed,” Dr. Parker said. “Reapply as directed and if you’re going to be involved in swimming or sports, use a water-resistant formula.”

What Is Spf?
SPF (sun protection factor) measures protection against sunburn caused primarily by UVB rays.

What Are Uvb and Uva Rays?
Both UVA (Ultraviolet A) and UVB (Ultraviolet B) rays can contribute to skin cancer. UVB are the harmful rays that penetrate the outer layer of skin, damaging skin cells and are the primary cause of sunburn. UVA rays were largely ignored in the past, but penetrate deeper into the skin and are now thought to cause early skin aging and skin cancer.

What Is Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Protection?
New FDA regulations are defining how manufacturers can label sunscreen products.  Only products that prove both UVA and UVB protection may be labeled as Broad Spectrum as of June 2012.

How Long Can I Keep a Sunscreen Product and Still Have It Be Effective?
Most sunscreens have a two to three-year shelf life. In sunscreen products that expire before three years, manufacturers are required to print an expiration date on the label.

Does Sunscreen Offer Complete Protection?
No. Remember to seek shade or stay indoors, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and wear protective clothing, a hat and sunglasses where possible.


The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is taking steps to help protect consumers from skin damage caused by excessive sun exposure. In June of 2012, changes are coming to the labels of sunscreen products. The four points below are what every consumer should know.

1. Under the new regulations, sunscreen products that protect against all types of sun-induced skin damage will be labeled “Broad Spectrum” and “SPF 15” (or higher) on the front. For these broad spectrum products, higher SPF (Sun Protection Factor) values also indicate higher levels of overall protection. A standard test for over-the-counter sunscreen products will determine which products are allowed to be labeled as broad spectrum. Broad spectrum products provide protection against both ultraviolet B radiation (UVB) and ultraviolet A radiation (UVA).  Sunburn is primarily caused by UVB.  Both UVB and UVA can cause sunburn, skin cancer, and premature skin aging.

2. The new labeling on the back of the product will also tell consumers that sunscreens labeled as both “Broad Spectrum” and “SPF 15” (or higher) not only protect against sunburn, but, if used as directed with other sun protection measures, can reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging. By contrast, any sunscreen not labeled as “Broad Spectrum” or that has an SPF value between 2 and 14, has only been shown to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging.

3. Water resistance claims on the product’s front label must tell how much time a user can expect to get the declared SPF level of protection while swimming or sweating, based on standard testing. Two times will be permitted on labels: 40 minutes or 80 minutes. Manufacturers cannot make claims that sunscreens are “waterproof” or “sweatproof, or identify their products as “sunblocks.”

4. Sunscreens cannot claim protection immediately on application (“instant protection”) or protection for more than two hours without reapplication, unless they submit data and get approval from the FDA.



Dr. Parker is a Dallas area native whose patients find him easy to connect with and talk to. His passion for his profession, compassion for his patients, and commitment to unequivocal excellence are core values that help make Dr. Parker an exceptional professional. Dr. Parker’s sincere, caring nature shines through, as does his genuine concern for the health and well-being of his patients.

After receiving a bachelor of science at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, Dr. Parker earned his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, where he was designated as The Outstanding Plastic Surgery Student. He completed residency training in plastic & reconstructive surgery at UT Southwestern, considered by many to be one of the top plastic surgery programs in the country, he continued his training and education with an additional fellowship in Mohs Micrographic Surgery at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas under Dr. Willis Cottel, the former president of the American College of Mohs Surgery.

Dr. Parker is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and a member of the American College of Mohs Surgery. He is founder of Skin Cancer Consultants and Skincepts Medical Skincare. Dr. Parker also serves as director of the Dallas Surgi Center and as volunteer clinical faculty to the Department of Plastic Surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

A dedicated family man, Dr. Parker is married with four children—three who are his biological children and one adopted. He enjoys spending time with his family and appreciates and enjoys outdoor activities and water sports, always with sunscreen in hand. Faith and giving back to those who are less fortunate also play a big role in Dr. Parker’s life. He is involved in his local church and donates his time and talent going on medical missions to locations such as Mexico, Belize, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. Dr. Parker added, “God, family, and friends are the most important thing in my life, along with my career and the well-being of our patients.”



Dr. Thornwell  H. Parker, III, MD, PA8230 Walnut Hill Lane, Suite 808
Dallas, Texas 75231
214.696.8828  |

2 Responses to Are You at Risk of Getting Skin Cancer?


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