Dr. Steven Wang has conducted thousands of surgeries on heads to treat cancer, sometimes by removing as much as one-third of a patient’s scalp.
“It’s not a fun place to do surgery on,” Wang, a dermatologist at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, told the Business Journal. “It bleeds extensively. It destroys hair follicles. People remember when they had surgery on their scalps.”
That experience led Wang to develop a sunscreen for that part of the body. After four years of experimentation and clinical trials, Wang on Memorial Day weekend unveiled Zenon Life, a sunscreen for scalps that also can act as a type of gel to keep hair in place.
Sales of the initial 5,000 units are “brisk,” he said, saying it’s being sold in dermatology offices and hair salons.
The Florida Skin Cancer Foundation recently named Zenon Life as its official scalp sunscreen, he said.
“The entire project is about raising awareness about the top of the head,” Wang said. “If nothing else, we want people to stay protected. The scalp is a commonly missed area for protection.”
Wang is the program director of dermatologic oncology at Newport Beach-based Hoag. He recently oversaw the installation of a state-of-the-art 3D imaging system machine at Hoag’s expanding campus in Irvine.
The machine, the Vectra WB360, is the only one of its kind on the West Coast, according to Hoag.
“This is cutting-edge technology,” Wang told the Business Journal in May. “We can detect skin cancer really early. This is the future of skin cancer detection.”
Hoag last year convinced Wang to leave New Jersey’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where he worked for 16 years, including as head of dermatology and director of dermatologic surgery and dermatology.
He’s written five books and hundreds of peer-review papers on the topic of skin cancer, which is by far the most common of all types of cancer, with 3.5 million new cases of skin cancer diagnosed annually in U.S., according to Wang. About 15% of those cases are on the scalp.
It was at Kettering that Wang came up with the idea of a sunscreen for the scalp.
“It’s exhilarating,” he said. “You see a bedside need and go back to research to address the need. It completes the cycle.
“It’s totally different from other research. This is much more impactful.”
Zenon Life has SPF 40 protection and doubles as a gel-like product for hair styling purposes.
The company says the sunscreen is enriched with amino acids, collagens, and antioxidants designed to nourish and promote healthier and more lustrous hair.
Wang is working to develop other products, such as oils to help people in their 70s recuperate from bruises. His website advertises an AP Skinguard Moisturizing Bruise Oil for $38.
“Our whole goal is to develop products with unmet needs,” Wang said.