Initially, when Dr. Mohs introduced his procedure it was not as refined as it is today. The initial procedure involved the dermatologist removing a thin layer of affected skin from the affected area, dressing it with a zinc chloride paste to allow it heal for a few days, then asking the patient to come back in a few days, after the skin had time to heal from the surgery, for re-evaluation. At this point the patient would have one more layer of skin removed for analysis, the affected area would be redressed with the zinc chloride paste, and if the test results showed any more cancer cells on the edge of the skin the whole procedure would be repeated. In this way, the process could take days or weeks.
This first model of Mohs surgery was met with scrutiny from the medical community, and dubbed controversial. The reason for this are partly because until that time dermatologists had never performed surgical operations. However, the other problem with it was that the zinc chloride paste used to treat the skin in between surgeries caused a great deal of pain and discomfort among patients.
A couple decades later, in the 1950s, a new variation of Mohs surgery started to become popular: rather than removing a layer of tissue, dressing the area with the zinc chloride paste, then asking the patient to come back for re-examination, the doctor would use local anesthesia on the affected area, then simply remove one thin layer of tissue at a time, examining each layer right away to see if the edges had cancer cells. This process would be repeated until there was no more cancer cells upon examination.
Today, Mohs surgery has the highest cure rate for certain types of skin cancer. It is a procedure that is used on large skin lesions, rapidly growing lesions, and cancer lesions with poorly defined borders. This procedure helps preserve as much healthy skin on the patient as possible. This is especially useful if the cancer is on a sensitive area such as the hands, feet, or face.
Colorado Dermatology Institute is the leading dermatology organization in Colorado Springs. Please contact us to schedule an appointment today.
Colorado is one of the highest-elevation locations in the country, and as such we have less protection from the sun than places closer to sea level. In fact, since we are so much higher up in the atmosphere here in Colorado we generally get about 25% less protection from the sun than people do at sea level.
With this in mind here are some tips to help you avoid the potentially dangerous rays from the sun when you are hiking or doing anything in the sun for a prolonged period of time here in Colorado. Let’s get started.
- Choose sunblock which contains titanium dioxide or zinc oxide (or both) instead of sunscreen. Sunblock has broad-spectrum protection which means it physically blocks UVB as well as UVA rays, whereas sunscreen uses chemicals to absorb the sun’s rays. These chemicals can cause irritation to people with sensitive skin.
- Also, sunscreen needs to be applied about 20 minutes before going out into the sun. Sunblock, by contrast, physically blocks the sun’s rays with only a couple of active ingredients, and is effective immediately. This is why sunblock is a more effective choice over sunscreen.
- Wear lip balm. Your lips can get sunburned just like your skin can, so apply lip balm. Most lip protection products are effective. Some cosmetic lip products, like lip gloss and some lipsticks, can actually protect your lips from the sun’s rays, but other products, such as shinny lipstick with no color can actually direct the sun’s rays to your lips. Try to avoid those products.
- Remember to bring plenty of water and cover up your skin as much as possible, including with hats and sunglasses, and to take advantage of the shade when you can.
These tips are obviously useful in the summer, however they are perhaps even more useful in the fall because people tend to think that since the temperature is cooler they can simply disregard the potential hazard of the sun’s rays, and that is simply not true, especially at high altitudes.
Something you might not have known is that most ordinary aging effects on the skin is caused by sun exposure, so apply these tips above, and if you suspect that your skin is developing any symptoms caused by overexposure to the sun, feel free to call Colorado Dermatology Institute for an appointment.