Preventing skin cancer has a lot to do with staying out of the sun during peak hours and regularly applying sunscreen when you do spend time basking in its rays. But can skin treatments like laser peels also help prevent skin cancer? To find out, I emailed with NYC-based Cosmetic Dermatologist, Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank.
According to Dr. Frank, patients might seek a laser peel to "help lift, tighten, and even skin tones while reducing sun damage and excess pigmentation." Of course, skin concerns and skin types can be quite different, so personalized treatments are usually developed to tackle each patient's unique concerns.
While Dr. Frank says there are a variety of lasers that can be used for peels, for someone looking to remove sun damage, he would use the Fraxel Thulium laser. This is because, he explains, "This laser creates a number of microscopic zones that are stimulated to destroy damaged skin and produce new tissue which is healthy and rejuvenated in appearance." What's more is that this treatment is non-ablative, meaning it doesn't cause any open skin, and patients have a short, four-day recovery period. Not too bad when one of the other perks is that this laser peel can help prevent skin cancer.
"This technology has been proven to remove precancerous lesions on the face and subsequently improve the overall health of the skin," says Dr. Frank. He explains that during these treatments, the laser removes "parts of the epidermis where sun damage that causes non-melanoma skin cancer resides." Therefore, when these superficial layers of the skin are removed, potential precancerous abrasions are also likely to be removed, significantly reducing the chances of skin cancer developing.
However, Dr. Frank notes that milder lasers that will still improve the quality of skin will not truly treat precancerous or high-risk skin for sun damage like the Fraxel Thulium does. So depending on the benefits you're seeking from a laser peel, it's best to talk to your dermatologist about your skin's needs and all of your options.
Even though there is a laser that can help prevent skin cancer though, remember that it shouldn't be your first line of defense. It is still possible to develop non-melanoma skin cancer on other parts of your body besides your face, or melanoma that lasers may not be able to target. Sunscreen isn't obsolete yet. But if things do get a little out of hand, a laser peel could be an excellent backup.