Breakthrough Skin Cancer Surgery Saves Lives, Preserves Skin

Thursday, 15 Aug 2013 08:12 AM

By Kathleen Walter and Donna Scaglione

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Dr. Justin Piasecki is much more than a pretty face. The pioneering skin-care expert and plastic surgeon was named the “Most Beautiful Doctor in America” by “The Doctors” TV show. These days he is spreading the word about how to stay safe from skin cancer and a skin-preserving surgical way to treat it.

Skin cancer develops from accumulative sun exposure over a long period of time. While most people understand this and the need to protect their skin with sunscreen, many don’t realize that sunscreen’s power is limited.



“What most people forget is that sunscreen stops working after two to three hours,” Dr. Piasecki tells Newsmax Health. “So the mistake most folks make is not reapplying it regularly enough. It should be reapplied every two to three hours.”

However, diligent reapplication of sunscreen alone does not provide enough protection.

“Even with sunscreen on and working you’re still going to get sun exposure and you’re still going to get damage,” he explains. “So moderation with respect to sun exposure and wearing sunscreen regularly is really the key.”

Despite the numerous sunscreen brands to choose from, he says there is no evidence that one brand is better than another.

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“An affordable sunscreen that is comfortable and is easy to apply is really important,” he says.

Look for brands with “broad spectrum” labels that say they block both UVA and UVB radiation, which are ultraviolet rays that contribute to skin cancer risk, and with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 or greater. Your chosen brand should also list among its ingredients titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, agents that reflect the radiation away from the skin’s surface, he says.

In addition to sunscreen, monthly self-exams of your skin can help protect it, he advises. Look for changes in moles or other growths, including changes in size or color. Anything that bleeds with minimal trauma or a wound that won’t heal also should raise a red flag, he says.

Critical to skin cancer prevention is staying away from tanning beds. Regular use of tanning beds hikes the risk of deadly melanoma by 75 percent, Dr. Piasecki says.

“Tanning beds are to skin cancer what cigarettes are to lung cancer,” he warns.

Spray tan products are a safer option.

“If you want to appear tanned … spray tans are great,” explains Dr. Piasecki, who is board-certified in plastic surgery and facial plastic surgery. “They don’t cause skin cancer, they’re safe. They’re a little bit inconvenient in that they typically only last a couple of days. The products that are out on the market work very well. They create a natural appearance so you don’t have an orangey-brown appearance, which is what the 1980s sunless tan lotions caused.”

When skin cancer does strike, among the tools Dr. Piasecki uses on patients is micrographic surgery, a technique he calls “the gold standard” for treating skin malignancies. With micrographic surgery, tissue is removed and its margins are checked “in real time” so only the cancer is taken, he explains. The technique allows for less skin to be removed and results in a higher cure rate, he adds.

“That’s a really big deal when it’s on the face because we preserve all the normal tissue,” he says. “It also has a much higher cure rate — 99.2 percent versus 80 to 85 percent for other techniques out there.”

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© 2014 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.

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