The Burning Issue of Sun Damage, Skin Cancer
By Kristine Cannon & Remi Omodara
Summer: the season for temporary solutions — such as that crash diet to slim down for your leave-little-to-the-imagination bikini; and, let’s not forget about those days spent tanning either on the beach or in the tanning booth, just for a bit more color.
While some bad habits can be forgiven and forgotten, others can lead to long-term damage, such as skin cancers.
“They’re going to get a temporary tan,” says Dr. Lorna Frederickson, M.D., FAAD of Arizona Skincare Physicians, PLC, “but sustain permanent injury to their skin. You can’t really repair all of the cell damage.”
According to the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS), there were more than 2.6 million skin cancer treatments in 2011 performed by ASDS members in the United States, with 2.49 million of them for non-melanomas.
Closer to home, Frederickson says the number of skin cancers they’ve diagnosed and treated at the practice has increased. She goes on to say that women as early in their 20s are developing multiple skin cancers, likely due to tanning bed use.
“Natural or indoor tanning is probably the leading contributing cause to aging of the skin,” Frederickson says. “It’s something people should stop doing, not just for the photo damage, freckling, loss of elasticity and wrinkling, but also because of skin cancer risks.”
And once those in their late 30s or 40s has endured an excess of sun or tanning bed exposure, racking up a fair amount of skin damage, Frederickson says one of the best ways to treat it is with laser treatment.
One of the most common laser treatments at Arizona Skincare Physicians is Fraxel Dual 1550/1927, which stimulates the growth of new, healthy skin cells from the inside out. It targets aging and sun-damaged skin with microscopic laser columns that penetrate deep into one’s skin to expedite the body’s remodeling of collagen. And according to Scottsdale plastic surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Ptak M.D., F.A.C.S., collagen is an important element to younger, healthier skin.
“The skin is like a sponge,” Ptak says. “Loss of collagen combined with sun damage can age the skin quickly.”
Frederickson adds that both young and older patients, who have discoloration from the sun, pre-cancers, blotchiness and freckling, can benefit from the Fraxel Dual laser treatment due to how safe it is and its minimal downtime.
“It’s great for younger patients because they don’t need aggressive lasers,” Frederickson says. “I will also use it on patients in their 80s because they don’t want a lot of downtime, or they have a lot of medial issues — or for a whole host of issues.”
To avoid skin cancer risks and sun-damaged skin, Frederickson says to not only stay away from indoor tanning, but to also not smoke.
“The only other thing besides ultraviolet light is smoking,” Frederickson says, “and the two together have a negative synergy and magnify one another’s ill effects.”
Other tips from Ptak to keep your skin hydrated and healthy include decreasing caffeine intake, drinking more water and using sunscreen.
Lastly, Frederickson advises to consult a skincare professional with any questions or concerns you may have, as well as for smaller, noninvasive treatments, such as botulinum injections or Botox.
“I see a fair number of women who have gone outside of a core speciality,” Frederickson adds. “I’m negative about the many spas because I end up fixing a lot of problems out of there.”
For more information about sun damage and/or skin cancer, visit azskincareplc.com or doctorptak.com.
Arizona Skincare Physicians, PLC
10565 N. Tatum Blvd., Paradise Valley
Jeffrey J. Ptak M.D., F.A.C.S., Plasic Surgery
9431 E. Ironwood Square Dr., Scottsdale