Summary: Recently, the NFL’s own Atlanta Falcons teamed with the American Academy of Dermatologists as part of the SPOT Me campaign to help call attention to skin cancer. The Falcons offered free skin cancer screenings to anyone who attended their end-of-July training camp. While the camp has passed, it still provides us with a great opportunity to raise awareness about skin cancer and discuss how your plastic surgeon can help.

A Great Handoff

Football season is upon us. Pretty soon we’ll be eating buffalo wings and loading chips with salsa long into the dwindling daylight hours of late afternoon. Sure, we’ll have to go to work on Monday, but at least we’ll get to turn our Sundays into a marathon of football. Of course, it’s also August, when the northern hemisphere of the globe tends to get some of its most intense UV rays.

So, it’s probably a combination of good timing and good marketing that recently the Atlanta Falcons, in conjunction with the American Academy of Dermatology‘s SPOT me campaign, offered free skin cancer screenings during their training camp at the end of July. It was a good deed, and it gives everyone a chance to talk about the dangers of skin cancer.

Causes

The main culprit with most skin cancer conditions is UV radiation, whether from the sun or from tanning beds. The solution, of course, is to always wear sunscreen and to avoid long exposure (perhaps any exposure) to tanning beds. We all want that youthful, toned look that tanning provides, but it’s important to remember that the sun is essentially an enormous ball of nuclear fire that, even 93 million miles away, is constantly damaging your skin. (In fact, the sun can cause wrinkles, but Botox can take care of that.)

Prevention

Keep an eye out for new moles, or spots that seem to be growing. The sooner you can identify skin cancer, the sooner it can be treated and the less damage it will do to your skin and body. As with any cancer, if it’s given a chance to grow, things get a little dicey, so you do yourself a huge favor when you spot it early.

Treatment

If you were diagnosed with breast cancer, your doctor might order a mastectomy. If you’re in the Houston area, you’d rely on Houston plastic surgeons for reconstruction, for example. The same is true of skin cancer. The cancerous tissue must be removed—and early detection is key, because most doctors like to include a “safe margin” around the cancerous material no remnants are left to spread.

Once the cancer is removed, your plastic surgeon will either use nearby skin to cover the removed area with a “flap,” or rely on a skin graft from another area of your body. This, of course, depends on the extent of work to be done. The important part is that your plastic surgeon will work very hard to minimize visible scarring. It’s true that there will indeed be a scar, but plastic surgeons have gotten quite good at making that scar as small as possible, and as invisible as possible.

Be Aware

So, we should take a page out of the Atlanta Falcon’s playbook. We need to do more to be aware of skin cancer, to get screened, and get treatment early.

If you’re worried about scars of any kind, talk to your plastic surgeon today to minimize those scars.

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