Dealing with the Aesthetic side of Sun Damage: Part 2 ~ Treatments

Sun damage can begin to appear as uneven skin tone or texture, increased fine lines, deep wrinkles, skin laxity, dark spots, broken capillaries, and more. The tans of today are not worth it tomorrow. However, there are many things we can do to begin correcting and protecting our largest organ so it can flourish and glow well into our golden years. It’s a little-known fact that 80% of how you age is individual lifestyle and environment – not genetics. Skin awareness, high quality products, and medical aesthetic procedures were not around for the generations before us. Now, more than ever, we can choose how we age!

Papillon Medical addresses this in a holistic manner, believing that happiness and well-being are the most important things in life. Healthy skin is beautiful skin, and it will do wonders for how you feel about yourself. My job is to help you achieve and exceed your skin goals, to help you move confidently through every stage of life!

Treatment plans must be carefully considered for each patient based on time of year, medical condition, concerns being addressed, and the willingness to go through some “down time”. Many of the most effective treatments require some time for the skin to heal (long weekends are ideal for these), but it’s important to understand what to expect from treatment before jumping in.

One of the best introductory services we offer is the hydrafacial. Hydrafacials use chemical and mechanical exfoliation via abrasive wand tip and gentle vacuum suction. With this action, we get even exfoliation, lymphatic drainage, circulation stimulation, and excellent serum penetration. I recommend purchasing a package upfront (this means a discount, of course!), and scheduling regular hydrafacials to compliment other treatments, or just for the transition of seasons. We can also add powerful boosters to enhance and tailor results to your individual needs. Everyone can benefit from a hydrafacial, and I encourage you to reach out with any questions you may have.

Microneedling is one of my favorite treatments for solar damage and other concerns. We see incredible results in the way of skin firming, evening tone, treating many different forms of scars, and giving the skin a youthful, supple feeling. Microneedling is safe for all skin types and has minimal downtime.

IPL (Intense Pulse Light) treatments are famous for their effectiveness in treating dark spots. The powerful light emissions bring pigment to the skin’s surface, so people can expect to see their sun damage darken before it gently sloughs off. For best results, we like to do a series of six treatments at four-week intervals. IPL is not safe to do during summer months and has a list of contraindications we must consider before treating safely.

Laser rejuvenation/prejuvenation is an excellent way to target the laxity issues associated with photodamage (I have even written a separate blog on this subject here). At Papillon Medical, we have Fotona SP Dynamis and Cutera Laser Genesis which are both wonderful at stimulating collagen production, tightening elastin, shrinking pores, and more. I love customizing laser treatments for my clients with this multi-faceted equipment. For example, we can do a series of intra-oral laser treatments to tighten up the lower face and address lines around the mouth, as well as a full-face laser rejuvenation using different wavelengths to target different layers of the skin. This treatment strengthens and stimulates the facial skin to address existing concerns and slow the aging process. Both of these lasers can be used to treat broken capillaries as well, as long as the treatment is properly distanced from other laser sessions.

Laser peels have gained a lot of popularity in recent years, and for good reason! By performing controlled laser ablation to the skin, we can remove visible damage and stimulate collagen. Each treatment is customized to target the individual client and their individual concerns at every stage of life. Oftentimes, it is hugely beneficial to do a fractional laser ablation around the mouth for greater collagen stimulation, or on areas of scarring and dark spots at the same time. Results of laser rejuvenation are cumulative, so it is usually best to build upon a series and add a resurfacing treatment at the end. I love to see people commit to a package of gentle rejuvenating treatments (which firm up the skin and stimulate faster cell turnover) then finish with a laser peel. Talk about a transformative glow!

The season for laser peels is winter. I do not recommend pursuing these treatments during the warm and sunny months at all, and certainly not before a vacation! But we can always work toward better results from your peel(s) with other treatments throughout the year, and with the daily use of high-potency skin care products.

Whatever your areas of concern may be, there are always steps we can take to see real improvement. Be kind to yourselves, take care, and please reach out with any questions. This skin nerd loves a challenge!

By Nicole Whiteside, Medical Aesthetician / Laser Technician
Papillon Medical & Dermatology

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

May is skin cancer awareness month and we have already touched on the ABCDEs of at-home skin cancer checks and basal cell carcinoma. Today, we will be discussing a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Did you know that squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer in Canada after basal cell carcinoma?

Treatment for SCC should not be put off. As more damage is done to surrounding tissues it will get larger, and if left untreated a small percentage may spread to distant tissues, organs, and/or local lymph glands. When SCC metastasizes, it can be fatal. SCC can develop from pre-cancerous growths or “sunspots” called actinic keratoses.

As with the previous skin cancers we have learned about, SCCs are caused by chronic exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun and/or tanning beds. SCC is the result of a mutation in a squamous cell’s DNA which instructs the cells to grow out of control and continue living, when normally they would die. This skin cancer can occur on any part of your body, but lesions that develop on the ears or lips are generally considered more serious. This is because they can be more aggressive and prone to spreading to nearby lymph glands.

Factors that may increase your risk of developing SCC include fair skin, past history of skin cancer, and history of chronic ultraviolet radiation from the sun or tanning beds. Renal organ transplant patients whose immune systems are compromised also face a higher risk; in these patients, the malignant cells tend to act more aggressively and may spread to other parts of the body. People who use tanning beds have a much higher risk of getting SCC, with onset beginning earlier in life.

SCC can appear as a wart-like growth that is thickened, red, and/or has scaly bumps. They can also look like an open sore, or dry scaly patches of skin. They are often tender, but sometimes they may not cause pain at all.

It is important to note that SCCs can look quite different from one person to another; when in doubt, check it out. Any sore that does not heal within four weeks should be examined by a skin specialist. Follow your instincts and visit your dermatologist if you see anything new, changing, or unusual on your skin.

Now that you know what to look for, an important question to ask is how do you help prevent this type of skin cancer? Avoid spending time in the sun during the hottest hours of the day, wear protective clothing, apply SPF year-round (even when it is cool or rainy out), and avoid tanning beds. Lastly, it is important to perform self skin checks at home and report any changes you may notice to your family doctor or dermatologist.

Sometimes the hard topics in life are worth discussing; they just might help save a life!


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