The Importance of Sun Protection for Healthy Skin


| 2/15/2018 10:14:00 AM


Tags: Skin Cancer, Mohs Surgery, Sun Protection, Skin Care, Dermatology, Jenny Wisniewski,

It started out as the tiniest bump on the right side of my nose. A pimple, I thought, which could be easily covered with makeup. I was in my early forties but getting a zit from time to time was not unheard of. One day while looking in the mirror, it dawned on me that this zit had been on my nose for longer than usual. I reasoned that we get blemishes on our skin as we age. Even my primary care physician said it was “probably nothing to worry about.” So, life got busy and I simply put it out of my mind. When blood would appear from time to time, a vague foreboding voice told me it needed a second look. It was my Mom who bluntly told me during a visit that I needed to see a dermatologist—immediately.

sun over field
Photo by John Steward/Unsplash

One biopsy later my Mom’s fears were confirmed. This little bump was skin cancer. Furthermore, I had let this molehill go on for so long that it had turned into a mountain and now needed something called Mohs surgery. I did get a bit of relatively good news that day, too; it was not melanoma, an aggressive and sometimes deadly skin cancer. Instead, I had a less aggressive form called basal cell carcinoma, a form that rarely metastasizes.

The name of the surgery sounded like some kind of medieval torture. In fact, it has become a standard procedure for nonmelanoma cancers. Using a local anesthetic, this specially-trained surgeon scraped a bit of the skin, sent me to the waiting room, and examined the tissue for cancer cells. Then he repeated a second time and a third until the cancer cells were gone. It was like having multiple biopsies in a single morning. Groundhog’s day in the dermatologist’s office.

kayak and setting sun
Photo by Aaron Burden/Unsplash



That wasn’t the end of it. Because the surgeon had needed to dig somewhat deeply to remove the cancer, I needed one more outpatient surgery. That afternoon a plastic surgeon would remove a small piece of skin from behind my ear and stitch it over the divot on my nose. Following this second surgery, as I was getting dressed in the recovery room, I glanced in the mirror and gasped. A large neon-yellow chunk of gauze was sutured to my nose. Panicking, I ran to find a nurse. “How long will this thing be on my nose?” “Oh, not long,” she replied, “only a week or two.”







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