Actinic Keratoses — Previews of Coming Attractions

Precancers and Sun Damage Treatment Bend, ORWe’re past the height of summer movie madness at the Regal Old Mill Theaters. Sometimes this summer there were so many previews, they could last 20 minutes. But when it comes to your skin — which is our reason d’etre at Deschutes — there’s a preview of something to come, as well. They are called actinic keratoses, and they are a preview of squamous cell carcinoma or basil cell carcinoma skin cancer.

Dr. Carter is an expert at spotting these precancerous skin lesions and treating them. This prevents them from developing into skin cancer.

What is an actinic keratosis?

Actinic keratoses are the result of long-term sun exposure. Sun exposure isn’t an individual event type of thing. Over the years, your amount of exposure accumulates and can eventually develop into both squamous cell and basil cell carcinomas.

An actinic keratosis is a rough, scaly patch growing on the skin. They look a bit like a dry patch, but with a definition. You’ll find them on areas that receive the most sun exposure. They can be different dimensions. Their color will range from light to dark, from pink to red. They can be flat or raised.

Who gets them?

More than 58 million Americans are diagnosed with actinic keratoses every year. They are more likely to develop in those with fair complexions, and in those with gray, green, or blue eyes. Darker-colored races, such as African-Americans, Samoans, Asians, and Hispanics, are less likely to develop these lesions.

How do we treat them?

The key with these lesions is to get rid of them before they develop into squamous or basil cell carcinomas. Some people don’t see any reason to remove these types of skin cancer, which isn’t usually life threatening, unlike melanoma. But if you let them grow, they can spread, and their removal can then be very disfiguring, especially in the face.

  • Cryotherapy — This is the most common treatment for actinic keratoses. If you’ve ever been to our offices, you’ve probably been introduced to the liquid nitrogen bottle. Dr. Carter sprays the lesion with this extremely cold gas. The lesion turns red, swells, may blister, and then peels off.
  • Topical creams and gels — Various topical applications can also remove actinic keratoses. One cream, 5-flurouracil, is applied to the skin for two to three weeks at home. It causes inflammation on the growth, which then peels off. Picato gel is only used for two to three days, causes a sunburn-type irritation, and makes the lesion peel away. Solareze gel is also effective.
  • Photodynamic therapy — In photodynamic therapy, we apply a topical drug called Levulan to the skin. A blue light then activates the chemical in the drug, which kills abnormal skin cells.
  • Topical immunotherapy — Over the past decade, a new approach for these lesions and even in situ skin cancers is to trigger the patient’s immune system to attack the abnormal pre-cancerous or cancerous cells. There are two prescription creams, Aldara and Zyclara, which are applied to the lesions daily. They trigger an immune response where the patient’s white blood cells attack and remove the abnormal cells.

If you have rough, scaly lesions on your skin, see the team at Deschutes. Dr. Carter will get rid of these growths before they become something more serious.

Platelet-Rich Plasma

Nonsurgical Facial Rejuvenation Bend, ORPlatelets, no they’re not some Bizarro World entry into the paper plate market. Platelets, for those of you who were passing notes in biology class instead of studying, are the critical element in the blood responsible for wound repair. More specifically, platelets allow the blood to clot. They’re also powerful little growth facilitators, another part of their wound-healing prowess.

Here’s an idea. Let’s say we take some blood and concentrate those platelets and then inject it back into your skin and let the platelets go to work.

Yeah, we do that every day at Deschutes Dermatology. It’s called platelet-rich plasma, and we use it to rejuvenate facial skin.

What is platelet-rich plasma?

If you take a blood sample and remove all the white and red blood cells, what you’re left with is plasma and blood platelets, but in a much higher concentration than when the blood cells are in there. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) has been used for years to speed the healing of joints, tendons, and muscle tissue in professional athletes. Now it can “heal” problems such as sun damage, acne scars and stretch marks, and the decreasing volume that is a part of normal aging.

How is a PRP treatment done?

At Deschutes, we start the PRP process by taking a small amount of blood from you, about the same amount used for a typical lab test. That blood is then placed in a centrifuge that spins at a high rate and separates the different components of the blood. Red and white blood cells are divided from the platelets and the plasma (the clear fluid that makes blood liquid). This plasma now contains a higher than a normal number of platelets (four times higher) and is called platelet-rich plasma.

Dr. Carter then reinjects the PRP back into areas of the patient’s face that need rejuvenation. Once injected the PRP stimulates the growth of new collagen, revitalizes skin tissue, and smoothes and firms the skin. That’s where PRP injections are different than dermal fillers. Dermal fillers simply fill lines and folds. PRP fuels skin rejuvenation. You can think of PRP as a natural filler that is rebuilding rather than simply filling.

What happens after my session and when will I see results?

The entire PRP session takes only around 15 minutes and is relatively painless. There isn’t any recovery time, but there can be some slight redness and swelling at the treatment sites. This passes very quickly.

Results begin to show themselves in three to four weeks as new collagen is added to the treatment areas, and these results continue to build for months.

Interested in putting your platelets to work improving your facial skin? Call Dr. Carter at 541-330-0900 and ask about platelet-rich plasma.