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OK, guys. You are in for a real treat (she says sarcastically). This is kind of a “before and after” series except that my face is what is going to be transformed and it is definitely not a “do it yourself” project!
I have had 8 MOHS surgeries to date. MOHS surgery is what is done by skilled doctors to remove skin cancer. In one appointment, the doctor removes the cancer spot and tests the borders to make sure it is all gone. If not, the doctor goes in again and takes out a bit more and tests it. They keep at it until all the cancerous cells are removed. This is the best way to remove skin cancers (especially from your face) as they only remove exactly what is needed and avoid cutting a huge chunk out of your skin.
After a lot of trial and error with other dermatologists, I miraculously found Dr. Yu from The Dermatology Center in Bethesda. He is excellent and I rely on his expertise and advice. He is a dermatologist and MOHS surgeon and recommends that in order to prevent future skin cancers and horrible surgeries, I receive a treatment called Photodynamic Therapy (PDT).
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a treatment that uses special drugs, called photosensitizing agents, along with light to kill cancer cells. The drugs only work after they have been activated or “turned on” by certain kinds of light. PDT may also be called photoradiation therapy, phototherapy, or photochemotherapy.
Depending on the part of the body being treated, the photosensitizing agent is either put into the bloodstream through a vein or put on the skin. Over a certain amount of time the drug is absorbed by the cancer cells. Then light is applied to the area to be treated. The light causes the drug to react with oxygen, which forms a chemical that kills the cells. PDT might also help by destroying the blood vessels that feed the cancer cells and by alerting the immune system to attack the cancer.
The period of time between when the drug is given and when the light is applied is called the drug-to-light interval. It can be anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days, depending on the drug used.
The reason I’m sharing is because this treatment is also used as a cosmetic procedure to help with sun damaged skin, acne scars, dark spots, etc. For anyone considering it for cosmetic or as in my case, to treat pre-cancerous spots, it may be helpful knowledge. Honestly, the photos are a bit hard to share!
This is the second time I have had this procedure and I knew what to expect. When I arrive, the esthetician first performs microdermabrasion. This is akin to a mini vacuum being used on the face. She swipes it in careful lines across my face but it doesn’t hurt at all. She then applies the medication and honestly, that stings. After five minutes it subsides but it makes my skin very sensitive and red. The medication sits on my face for an hour and a half and then I am taken to a room and placed under the light. First they apply small pads over the eyes for protection and then the light is turned on over the face. It does really sting and burn but it is not unbearable. The light is on for exactly 16 minutes and 40 seconds. Afterward, my skin feels hot and flushed (not a nice feeling at all). I need to avoid the sunlight for a few days as my skin is still very sensitive to light. I feel this is the worst part because I hate being stuck inside – especially right before the holidays with all that needs to be done.
Now for the scary pics!
I had it performed yesterday (the 13th) and last night was very uncomfortable. I ended up taking 2 Aleve pills and applying vaseline all over my face. It felt like a really bad sun burn with my skin very hot and sore. This morning it is definitely improving.
I will keep you posted on the progress of my face’s “before and after” and if you can stomach it, I will add a small pic at the end of each post for a week for you to see. I am anticipating looking like Charlize Theron or even Kim Kardashian at the end. Fingers crossed lol! But seriously, wear your sunscreen! I am like a crazy woman with my kids, following them around with a bottle of it at all times and I am the only mom that forces her softball player to wear a hat but I know that they will thank me when they are older and their skin is still flawless!