Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Sunspots revisited

In 2010 I went through treatment for my sun damaged skin after having a squamous cell cancer removed from my forehead.

The treatment involved putting cream on my face over a 4 week period.  The cream destroyed the sun damaged spots but left my face pretty ravaged for almost all of the 4 weeks of treatment and for a week or two after that.

Naturally having had the cancer I have been going for regular checkups every year.  It is almost 10 years on and in the more recent years I've had spots removed with liquid nitrogen on each visit.

This year my dermatologist suggested a more comprehensive treatment.  His options included Fluororacil but I was less enthusiastic about using that again so he suggested PDT (blue light treatment) as a newer and preferred treatment.

I have decided to document this process to see how it compares with the 2010 experience.

It was recommended that I shave for this, so I took a photograph last night before cutting off my beard.  My face is not horribly marked with sun damaged spots - the first round of treatment in 2010 took a lot of this off, but you can see some reddish and brown marks on my forehead and temples.

I went to the dermatologist in the morning and after a short wait I was sat in an office and had a liquid applied to your face.  The liquid is in a pen and is drawn over your face.  You have to sit for an hour while this gets absorbed into the skin.  The sun-damaged areas are more porous than healthy skin so these absorb the cream more effectively.

After an hour waiting for the cream to be absorbed I was put in a chair which rolled into with a u-shaped array of very bright lights.  The lights are quite hot and very bright but I was given wear protective goggles.

I was warned that this might be painful and I admit that my skin went from itchy to slightly painful (like a scratch from a thorn) in multiple places but it was never more painful than the liquid nitrogen treatments.  I rated it as 3 out of 10 when asked (though this scale never makes a lot of sense to me).  The treatment lasted almost 17min and the pain did level off  after the first 6min or so.

After treatment I was asked to wash the cream off and put high protection sunscreen on my face.  I was also told to wear a wide-brimmed hat for the trip home.    My skin was reacting to the bright light outside which is apparently the case for the next 48 hours so I pulled down the blinds in my study at home.

Computer screens and low lights in the house are safe to use so I have been working from home (and avoiding using a camera on calls :-))

I took a photograph in the afternoon - my face still has the sunscreen with zinc on it so it is whiter than usual in places but you can see red areas from the treatment.

I'll post updates over time.