Did you know that skin cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer? Did you also know that prolonged sun exposure speeds up the aging process making us look older than we are? What is the old saying; “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?” Proper sun protection makes it easier to stop the development of skin cancer before it turns into a more serious medical issue as well as protect our skin from the damaging, aging rays of the sun.
Sun exposure may contribute to up to 90% of the visible signs attributed to aging. Chronic and repetitive overexposure to the damaging rays of the sun weakens the elasticity of the skin which causes premature sagging, wrinkling, and undereye bags. Dark spots appear on the surface of the skin as well as a noticeable change in the skin’s texture, which makes the skin look “leathery”. Aggressive cosmetic treatments may help to improve the structure and surface of the skin, but the damage also continues underneath the skin. Free radicals are strands of mutated DNA which are damaging the structure of the skin and breaking down healthy cellular function. Cosmetic treatments and an antioxidant and growth factor based skincare regimens may help to combat some of the signs of sun damaged skin.
Did you know that getting sunburned as a child can lead to the long-term destruction of the skin, including the development of pre-cancerous and non-melanoma skin cancers? Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer caused by unrepaired DNA damage which triggers genetic mutations that form malignant tumors. Melanoma often appears as lesions like moles, or spots that resemble moles.
Non-Melanoma skin cancers such as Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma are commonly treated with Mohs Micrographic Surgery. This procedure processes layers of tissue through special freezing and staining techniques that allow specially trained dermatologists to analyze the depth of the cancer cells, and completely remove the cancered layers. Patients leave the office cancer free. This procedure has the highest cure rate in the treatment of non-melanoma skin cancers.
The most common pre-cancerous lesions are called Actinic Keratosis (AK). These lesions present themselves as crusty, scaly lesions on the face, scalp, ears, neck, and the backs of hands and forearms. If left untreated, AKs can develop into more serious forms of skin cancer, like Squamous Cell Carcinoma. There are a few ways of treating AKs. In office croysurgery freezes the lesion with liquid nitrogen which will cause it to scab and fall off. Providers can also scrape or shave off part of the lesion and apply heat or a chemical agent to destroy the lesion. Laser treatments with a special liquid medication with exposure to a special wavelength of light can vaporize the tissue of the lesion.
So, what can you do to not only prevent accelerated aging skin but also protect yourself from the development of skin cancer? A few simple steps can save not only your skin, but your life!
First, the use of a broad-spectrum UVA and UVB sunscreen SPF 15 or higher is recommended every day. The damaging rays of the sun can penetrate through car and office windows. You don’t need to be lying on the beach to only have the effects of the damaging rays! For outdoor activity, use a water resistant broad-spectrum sunscreen SPF 30 or higher. If you are sweating or swimming, it is recommended to reapply every 2 hours for optimal protection.
Second, avoid the damaging rays between the hours of 10am and 4pm if it is possible. If you can’t avoid it, make sure that your body is adequately protected not only by broad-spectrum sunscreen, but with protective clothing including, broad-brimmed hats and sunglasses with UV-blocking protection.
Third, and one of the most important steps, avoid the use of tanning beds and booths! It is one of the worst ways to damage the skin!
Lastly, make sure that you examine your skin head to toe each month to check for any lesions or moles that are changing shape or color, or may have not been present in the past. If you see a new or enlarging growth, you should make an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist or expertly trained dermatologic provider right away. In addition, you should get in the habit of scheduling a full body exam every year. Just like a yearly dental cleaning or annual physical, a full body exam is just as important for prevention. After all, the skin is the largest organ in the body!
Our expertly trained staff at Skin Laser & Surgery Specialists of NY & NJ wants you to have the healthiest skin possible. Our three convenient offices in New Jersey and New York City offer flexible appointments and participation with most major insurances. Dr. David Goldberg also leads a nationally accredited Mohs Micrographic Surgery fellowship for the training of specialized Mohs Surgeons. Our expertly trained Mohs Surgeons on staff will ensure that you receive the best treatment for your non-melanoma skin cancers. Our Hackensack NJ office also features Superficial Radiation Therapy for patients who are not candidates for Mohs Surgery.
Call our dedicated concierge team to schedule your annual full body exam in any of our convenient locations.