Division of Dermatology

Hidradenitis Suppurativa Program Offers Specialized Treatment for “Nameless” Skin Condition

Steven Cohen Dermatology Hidradenitis Suppurativa Albert Einstein College of Medicine Montefiore Medical Center Bronx NY
Steven R. Cohen, MD, MPH

April 12, 2015 - BRONX, NY - The Einstein Montefiore Division of Dermatology is pleased to announce the launch of its Hidradenitis Suppurativa Program for patients with hidradenitis suppurativa (HS). The HS Program will centralize a network of dermatologists, plastic surgeons, nutritionists, gastroenterology specialists, and psychologists with expertise in managing HS. 

HS is a chronic inflammatory disease with recurrent abscesses in areas including the underarms, breasts, groin, and/or buttocks. It can cause considerable scarring and, in more severe cases, create sinus tracts (infection-prone channels) and fistulae (abnormal passageways connecting multiple abscesses). At its worst, HS is a painful, psychologically damaging, physically debilitating condition.

"Despite the fact that HS is a very common disease with devastating consequences, its awkward name is unfamiliar to the public and to most health care workers," said Dr. Steven Cohen, Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Dermatology. "More often than not, HS has a hugely negative impact on quality of life."

While its cause(s) remain poorly understood, HS is considered by physicians and investigators to be a primary disease of the hair follicles. Given that a third of patients have one or more relatives who are also affected, a genetic mutation may also be involved.

Michelle Lowes Dermatology Hidradenitis Suppurativa Albert Einstein College of Medicine Montefiore Medical Center Bronx NY
Michelle A. Lowes, MD, PhD

The Hidradenitis Suppurativa Program, including HS Treatment and Research Centers, is co-directed by Dr. Cohen and Dr. Michelle Lowes. Dr. Cohen specializes in the care of patients with HS and has been awarded grants to develop an HS Registry and Quality of Life Study to better understand the nature of this devastating disease. Dr. Lowes joined Montefiore Einstein in October 2014 as Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine, bringing a longstanding dermatological research background with focus on chronic immunological skin diseases. Educated and trained in Australia, she was formerly with the Laboratory for Investigative Dermatology at Rockefeller University.

Dr. Cohen and Dr. Lowes conceived the HS Treatment Program after observing unusually large and increasing numbers of patients with the disease in Montefiore’s outpatient facilities throughout the Bronx. “We feel the HS Program will enable us to provide the highest quality care for victims of the disease, including the broadest range of medical, psychological, nutritional, and surgical treatment options," said Dr. Cohen.

The Center’s innovative, patient-tailored treatment approach may include minor surgery or medications such as topical and oral antibiotics, vitamin A analogues, and anti-TNF biologics. Laser and/or plastic reconstructive surgery may be involved in severe cases. Services for weight loss and smoking cessation (both known to exacerbate HS), pain management, and a support group for patients living with HS will also be integrated into the program.

The HS Treatment Program, located at the Montefiore Hutchinson Campus (Hutchinson Metro Center, 1250 Waters Place), accepts patients on alternate Monday mornings beginning Monday, April 13. Patients who wish to make an appointment, and physicians interested in referring patients or becoming involved in the Center, should contact Dr. Lowes (mlowes@montefiore.org) or Dr. Cohen (srcohen@montefiore.org).

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