Summer is almost here! Between the summer vacations, lake time and lounging by the pool, it is often easy to forget about protecting your bare skin from the harmful sun.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, resulting in more than 1 million cases of squamous cell and basal cell carcinomas being diagnosed each year. More than 120,000 cases of melanoma were diagnosed in 2011, according to a study reported on CancerNetwork.com, with nearly 9,000 of those cases resulting in death. Deaths reported in melanoma cases increased nearly 6 percent in the United States from 1990-2005.
Although susceptibility to numerous forms of skin cancer varies across the population depending on a person’s skin type and hair or eye color, what is definite is that the desert Southwest annually reports higher rates of skin cancer. Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Israel are the other geographic areas that report high skin cancer rates each year.
It is also important to know that the same risks that predispose us to cancer also expose us to aging. A recent study published by the New England Journal of Medicine reported that chronic exposure to Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays can result in thickening of the epidermis and stratum corneum (outermost layer of skin), as well as destruction of elastic fibers.
Since consistent exposure to the sun will cause us to age faster and may cause death, below are suggestions for all of us to follow so we can continue to remain looking young and living our lives to the fullest.
The easy answer would be to avoid sunlight, but we wouldn’t be able to live an enjoyable life if we stayed inside all day. Using heavy-duty sun blocks, SPF 30 and above, is a must, as well as routinely using moisturizers on your face. Men, women and children should also wear hats when outside, especially at Spring Training baseball games.
In my practice in Scottsdale, I can use minimum evasive procedures on men and women who want to repair damage the sun has caused to their face. I can use an injectable (Botox) to remove wrinkles and perform a photo facial or microdermabrasion to decrease sunspots and blemishes. Fractional laser skin resurfacing procedures are also available to rejuvenate areas of the skin at a microscopic level.
Carbon dioxide laser resurfacing is available to treat more aggressive cases to reverse the sun’s damage on a patient’s face. This is done in an operating room under anesthesia and consists of burning the skin and removing a significant amount of dead epidermis and then attacking deep layers of the skin with laser pulses.
Whether you are in the prevention, restoration or reconstruction phase to combat the sun’s affect on your skin, it is important to remain consistent in applying moisturizers and sun block while enjoying yourself outdoors. Following these simple suggestions can allow us all to continue to enjoy summer fun beautifully for years!
Dr. Marc Malek is listed among PHOENIX magazine’s annual Top Doctors rankings and is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, in addition to being a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the American Medical Association and the Arizona Medical Association. To request a consultation with Dr. Malek, please visit his website at www.marcmalekmd.com or call his office at 480.551.2040.