The warmth of the summer sun. The golden sand beneath your feet.
The smell of the salty surf.
For years, everyone told us that the sun was great, getting a golden tan was all the rage; achieving this ultimate result with baby oil, tanning reflectors, and as much time as possible at the beach or pool. Here in Newark and Wilmington Delaware, and close by southern New Jersey and Cecil County, Maryland, there is a vast population of sun worshippers as we are surrounded by beaches, bays, rivers, and canals.
Even though the warm sunshine boosts our spirits, there is a dangerous tradeoff. The longer days and more intense sunlight during the warmer month expose you to the sun’s dangerous ultraviolet radiation (UVR). This ‘dark’ side of the sun leads to more than 3.5 million cases of skin cancer in the US each year. Also, most of the skin damage associated with aging, such as wrinkling, sagging, leathering, is UVR related.
Many people consider skin cancer to be a minor health concern; however, someone dies from skin cancer every hour. This is unfortunate, since most skin cancers are preventable or at least curable when detected at an early stage. The skillful treatment provided by your board certified plastic surgeon at Advanced Plastic Surgery & Nouveau Cosmetic Center will ensure you get the appropriate medical/surgical treatment; removing the skin cancer while minimizing scarring.
- Problem spots identified
- Biopsy for diagnosis
- Removal of area most often under local anesthesia
- Minimal bruising and downtime
- All efforts to minimize scarring
- All specimens sent for diagnosis and to ensure complete removal
What’s the harm in sunburn?
Sunburn, the skin reddening caused by overexposure to the sun’s harmful UVR, may seem like a temporary irritation, however, it causes long-lasting damage to the skin. One blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person’s chance of developing melanoma later in life; and even five ‘mild’ sunburns at any age will do the same.
Now you’re worried the damage is already done, so why do anything different now? This is because the two most common skin cancers, basal cell and squamous cell directly correlate with sun exposure. More sun equals more skin cancer.
Ultraviolet radiation from the sun is the #1 cause of skin cancer, but UV light from tanning beds is similarly harmful. People who use tanning beds, nearly 30 million people every year, are 1.5-2.5 times more likely to develop skin cancer.
What is skin cancer?
Not all bumps, flaky areas, or moles are problematic, and many are normal; however, if they turn into skin cancer, they do require appropriate treatment.
Skin cancer occurs when cancer cells are found in the outer layers of the skin, particularly in areas exposed to sunlight such as the face, neck, hands, and arms. Some risks of developing skin cancer include time spent in the sun, overexposure/sunburn, artificial ultraviolet radiation (tanning beds), skin type, abundance of moles or freckles, and family history.
Three Main Types of Skin Cancers:
- Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
- Cut Melanoma
Skin Cancer Surgery
The diagnosis of “skin cancer” is scary, but the good news is that most skin cancers are curable if detected at an early stage. Plastic surgeons can surgically remove skin cancers using specialized techniques to preserve one’s health and appearance.
Skin cancer is diagnosed by performing a biopsy. This involves taking a sample of tissue, which is placed under a microscope and examined by a pathologist. Sometimes a biopsy can remove all the cancer tissue, and no further treatment is needed. However, further surgical intervention may be needed to remove additional cancer tissue or to reconstruct the area. Although no surgery is without scars, a plastic surgeon will make every effort to treat the skin cancer without dramatically changing your appearance.
Sunscreens are chemical agents that help prevent the sun’s ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from reaching the skin. Two types of UVR, UVA and UVB, damage the skin and increase the risk of skin cancer. UVB is the chief culprit behind sunburns; however UVA rays, which penetrate the skin more deep, are the cause of photoaging. Therefore, a broad-spectrum sunscreen which offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays is recommended.
Most sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher do an excellent job of protection. SPF, Sun Protection Factor, is a measure of the sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB from damaging the skin. But what does this mean? If it takes 20 minutes for unprotected skin to start to turn red, using an SPF 15 sunscreen theoretically prevents reddening 15 times longer—about 5 hours. In addition, SPF 15 blocks approximately 93% of all incoming UVB rays, 30 blocks 97%, and 50 blocks 98%.
To ensure that you get the full SPF of the sunscreen, 1 ounce, the size of a shot glass, should be applied to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside and reapplied every 2 hours.
Most people have freckles, birthmarks, or moles, but any irregularities or a change in the shape, edge, color, or size can be a warning sign of skin cancer. Since most skin cancers are treatable, early detection is key. A self examination every 6 months is recommended. This could take no longer than 10 minutes, a short amount of time to save your life. Concerning areas should be brought to the attention of your primary care physician for further evaluation.
Do you have a concerning lesion or spot…
Advanced Plastic Surgery & Nouveau Cosmetic Center located in Newark, Delaware, is convenient to Wilmington, Elkton Maryland, Chester County Pennsylvania, and Southern New Jersey. Our well trained staff and highly qualified surgeons are available to assist you with your concerns. Our surgeons use the latest in surgical technology to provide patients with the finest medical care and to deliver natural-looking results.
Please contact us today to schedule a consultation. Our plastic surgeons will discuss the best options for your needs and discuss all aspects of the procedure at your initial consultation.