The question that I am asked most often by patients and friends alike is what my own injectable regimen is. When I tell people that I have never injected my face with a filler or toxin, they are convinced that I am lying to them. The few that do believe me are suddenly very curious about how my skin looks the way does in my 40s without Botox or Juvéderm. They want to know my secret. Well, here it is. The sun and I are not friends. I do my best to avoid the sun as much as I can. Even if I go to the beach, I try to sit under an umbrella. I never ever intentionally tan, and I always use sunscreen. After all, there is no such thing as a healthy tan.
The numbers speak for themselves. Studies have shown that 90% of skin aging is caused by the sun. Yes, you read correctly. A whopping 90% of skin aging is caused by sun damage. It is the number one cause of premature aging. And people, stop blaming your teenage years for bad skin. Sun damage is cumulative. Only 23% of lifetime exposure happens by age 18. It is never too late to improve your habits. Another major offender is indoor tanning. Did you know that more people develop skin cancer because of indoor tanning than develop lung cancer because of smoking? And that two people die of skin cancer every hour? Or that more people are diagnosed with skin cancer in the US each year then all other cancers combined? Or that 1 in 5 people will develop skin cancer?
UV radiation is a carcinogen in and of itself. To make matters worse, indoor tanning beds emit UV radiation that is 10-15 times stronger than the sun at its peak intensity. Countries like Australia and Brazil have completely banned indoor tanning. The people who have used indoor tanning have an 83% higher chance of developing cancer. So, I think you get where I am going with this. No more tanning beds.
Now you can see why I always say that an excellent sunscreen is the most important anti-aging tool in your arsenal by far. Not all sunscreens (even with the same spf) are created alike, and I will tell you why. There are basically two types of sunscreen, physical and chemical. Physical sunscreen acts as a shield and deflects harmful UV rays. Chemical sunscreen do absorb the sun’s rays but keeps them from doing as much damage. So clearly, physical sunscreen makes more sense, and that is why we carry it at my practice Bawa Medical. Our sunscreens even contain Hyaluronic Acid as an additional anti-aging benefit not easily found in other sunscreens.
Not only should you use sunscreen every day of your life, you need to use enough at a time. Apply it liberally, and remember that it is not just for beach days. You need sunscreen even on cloudy days. It does not matter if you are just getting the mail or walking to and from your car. You need sunscreen. My patients often argue that their cars have tinted windows. I have a tough time explaining to them that tinted windows provide inadequate protection, and that enough damage can happen just walking to and from your car. There is also the issue of reapplication. Sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours especially when you are outside, or after swimming or sweating.
The other excuse I hear most often for not applying sunscreen is that my patients’ make-up has sunscreen in it. That is simply not enough. It is usually SPF 15 to perhaps 30 at best, and you would need to apply way more than you think to get sufficient coverage. While something is better than nothing, please do not convince yourself that you are protecting yourself adequately when you apply make-up with some sunscreen in it. I do not even carry under SPF 50 at my practice. Anything worth doing, is worth doing well. We do not do mamby pamby at Bawa Medical.
Darker skinned people need sunscreen as much as a pale-skinned redhead. Blacks and Asians get skin cancer just like anyone else. Interestingly enough, melanoma is relatively rare in sun-exposed areas in Blacks and Asians but they have a higher rate of melanoma in non-sun-exposed areas. Did you know that you can technically even get cancer in your eyeball or labia? Fun fact. So wear good quality sunglasses and rethink nude beaches. And remember that hats and umbrellas though helpful, are not a substitute for properly applied, excellent quality sunscreen and good eye protection.
It is not just southern states like Florida that need to worry about these issues. In fact, let me give you a pop quiz. Where do you think Florida stands on the list of states with the highest incidence of skin cancer? Number 1? No. Top 5? No. Top 10 then? Not that either. Top 15? Nope. Ladies and gentlemen, Florida is number 27 on the list. The top 5 states with skin cancer, from highest to lowest are Utah, Vermont, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Idaho. How about that?
Let us assume that you have sun damage because we all do to some extent. What can you do about it? Every Bawa Medical patient, irrespective of why they walk through the door, gets free facial digital imaging. I always want to know what lies beneath. My patients do not always want to know, but I do. And I do discuss it with them in detail. There are various things you can do based on how much sun damage you have. We have medications that include Vitamin C and Hydroquinone that can help with pigmentation. Retinols are great for pigmentation and a great anti-aging tool for wrinkles and fine lines as well. A regular HydraFacial can make all the difference in the world. And then of course, we have energy treatments. Lasers like our fractional CO2 and other energy devices such as IPL and radiofrequency with or without microneedling can help you with a lot of the damage you see on the digital imaging at our office. We also do regenerative treatments with growth factors and stem cells such as vampire facials that involve PRP (platelet-rich plasma) and PRFM (platelet-rich fibrin matrix). However, you must remember that lasers themselves make you more sensitive to the sun so you have to prevent sun exposure after getting laser treatments. My standard instructions include no direct sun exposure 2 weeks prior to or 6 weeks after any such treatment.
I specialize in skin, hair and intimate rejuvenation but a large portion of what I do depends on what you do. The more care you take of yourself, the better your results with me will be. Even if I am trying to reverse damage that has already occurred, your compliance with my recommendations will determine how much benefit you see from our treatments. Consistency is key. You have to be consistently careful and use sun protection every single day of your life. As we discussed, people in Utah are far more likely to get skin cancer than people in the sunshine state. No one is safe. If you want to live a long and healthy life, with beautiful and young skin, remember what I said at the beginning. The sun is not my friend. It never has been and never will be.
Avoid the sun as much as you can and use an excellent quality physical sunscreen at all times. Reapply often, and protect yourself with a hat and good quality sunglasses. Anti-aging begins long before you enter my office, And continues longer after you leave. I have developed a strongly anti-aging medical grade skincare line with the highest quality ingredients such as the strongest Retinols, stem cells, Hyaluronic Acid and more, but you have to use it consistently for it to work. I learned a long time ago that you can take a horse to water but you cannot make it drink. I hope that I have gotten the point across and that my words will help you all in one way or another. May is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month and if my words save a single life, it will be mission accomplished.
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