Dr. Paul Lubitz: Remember Melanoma Awareness Starts with “Me”

Art of Skin’s Dr. Paul Lubitz On What to Know About Chronic Sun Damage

As most of us know, young, healthy-looking skin is something that’s almost universally admired and desired. Unfortunately, long-term exposure to the sun can significantly lesson our chances of maintaining the appearance of clear, and healthy skin.

For many of us, especially those who enjoy exercising outdoors, some degree of sun exposure is a reality. However, that does not mean that we shouldn’t be aware of the effects of excessive sun damage on our skin or what can happen to our skin if we do not take steps to regularly protect it from sun exposure.

The reality is that significant long-term sun exposure causes premature aging and deterioration of the skin, the development of precancerous and skin cancer lesions and other consequences to one’s skin health and appearance. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, as for example when one goes tanning or sunbathing, is the most significant reason for premature aging of skin.

Long-term exposure to UV light is responsible for dramatic changes in the texture and composition of one’s skin by contributing to the breakdown of collagen and elastin fibers. For example, UV light exposure can in some cases cause dramatic thickening of the skin and the production of course wrinkles and a cobblestone appearance in some areas of the body such as the back and sides of the neck, forehead, upper lip and chin.

As many of us are well aware, sun exposure and UV light can also cause various color changes to our skin. Sun exposure can lead to the appearance of small blood vessels, called telangiectasias, in addition to various degrees of diffuse redness that are most often seen on one’s face, neck and upper chest. Long-term sun exposure can also yield changes to various types of pigmented (brown) spots such as moles, diffuse brown colour (melasma), freckles (known as ephelides), keratoses and liver or age spots, as well as solar lentigos.

The most serious medical consequence of significant chronic sun damage is the development of various forms of skin cancer, such as melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, which can result in serious consequences requiring potentially disfiguring surgery and even death.

These consequences to sun exposure are what people want to avoid.

Clearly, the effects that chronic sun damage have to one’s appearance is not a good or desired thing. However, Dr. Paul Lubitz, a Canadian dermatologist that specializes in skin cancer prevention and treatment, with over two decades of experience and who currently practices in Canmore, is quick to point out that skin cancer concerns trump everything else.

“In Canmore, where I practice, we are at a higher elevation, which means greater UV radiation, and because of that, Canmore (and Bow Valley) residents need to be particularly mindful of sun damage and the fact that it can lead to increased skin cancer. Add to this is the added risk which comes with the very outdoors oriented lifestyle that is prevalent in the mountain communities such as the Bow Valley where I live or Boulder, Colorado in the USA. These two factors can increase the risk for sun damage and skin cancer significantly. But, regardless of elevation, everyone should take steps to regularly to protect themselves from the sun and UV rays by, for example, regularly wearing an adequate level of sunscreen, sun protective clothing, hats and sunglasses.”

With that caveat in mind, technological advancements in dermatology and a greater understanding of skin physiology and disease have allowed dermatologists, as accredited skin specialists to be ideally trained to effectively treat the various effects and degrees of chronic sun damage, both medically ie skin cancer, and cosmetically ie redness, brown spots and wrinkles.

With that in mind, Dr. Paul Lubitz opened in September 2014 a new and advanced dermatology and dermasurgery clinic called Art of SKIN Dermatology, Laser and Cosmetic Surgery in Canmore, Canada.

Part of the inspiration for the opening of Art of SKIN Dermatology, Laser and Cosmetic Surgery was to bring the latest technology, clinical expertise and advanced treatment options to Canmore and region residents for the treatment of chronic sun damage and skin cancer.

One of the greatest areas of technological advancement for the treatment of chronic sun damage is in the field of lasers, machines that use light energy to specifically and safely remove particular target substances such as hemoglobin in blood vessels, pigment in different types of brown lesions, and even damaged tissue in wrinkles.

Art of SKIN Dermatology, Laser and Cosmetic Surgery provides a variety of treatment options for improving the effects of chronic sun damage using a wide range of lasers, including the Icon IPL, the Elite MPX IPL, the long pulse YAG (1064 nm), and the Alexandrite (755nm) to name a few. Several of these are lasers that can be used individually or in what’s called a multiplexed or MPX mode, a technological breakthrough that offers synchronous treatment using two different light sources or wave lengths simultaneously for greater results.

Art of SKIN Dermatology, Laser and Cosmetic Surgery also offers the new SmartSkin Fractionated CO2 laser which incorporates advanced fractionated technology allowing improved treatment results, less unwanted side-effects and less downtime as compared to conventional and older Co2 lasers, for the removal of many types of benign skin lesions, for wrinkle reduction, improving unsightly scars and skin resurfacing.

Precancerous lesions can now be effectively removed by a variety of methods including conventional cryotherapy, by the application of several topical (applied as a cream) medications that cause the patient’s own immune system to destroy the precancerous cells, as well as by photodynamic therapy and TCA chemical peels. Even some skin cancers can now in some cases be treated by topical medications however the gold standard in most cases still remains surgical excision. All of these very successful treatment options are now available under the direct care of Dr. Lubitz at his new Art of SKIN Dermatology, Laser and Cosmetic Surgery Centre in Canmore.

However, in the end, even though technology is advancing in the area of treating chronic sun damaged skin, people need to remain vigilant about proper skin care throughout their lives. The more prevention we can incorporate into our daily lives, and ideally starting early in life, the less correction we will have to be faced with later on. And with the level of UV light and radiation only increasing, people should be constantly aware of the negative consequences of prolonged sun exposure and should regularly take steps to protect their skin from the harmful effects of excessive sun exposure.

One last important point to mention is that people that are concerned about their skin and health of their skin definitely benefit from routine skin examinations by an accredited dermatologist in addition to regular self, skin exams. A dermatologist is specifically trained in all aspects of skin disease and not only can effectively examine your skin for dangerous and potentially life-threatening lesions and provide important treatment options, but they can also provide valuable education for the patient on ways to better take care of their skin in addition to teaching the patient about what they should look for when examining their own skin.