The Terrors of Tanning

Sun damage is a common occurrence, especially during the summer months. Even if we do make an effort to apply SPF 30, or more, every time we venture to the park, beach, or pool, we are still risking damage after so many hours going by. However, sun damage such as wrinkles, fine lines, and skin spots can be easily treated via skin rejuvenation techniques at our Louisiana plastic surgery practice. Patients can choose from treatments such as the Fraxel® laser, IPL Photofacials, chemical peels, and microdermabrasion. But one thing none of these treatments can fix is melanoma.

Melanoma, otherwise known as skin cancer, is diagnosed 120,000 times each year. Why is this cancer such a problem? Part of the reason is due to the fact that not everyone takes precautions to protect their skin while they are out in the sun. But another huge contributor to melanoma is the highly popular trend, fake baking. From tanning salons to gyms, tanning beds are a quick and easy way to gain beautifully darkened skin. Unfortunately, it is also a quick and easy way to acquire skin cancer. In fact, people under the age of thirty who tan in a bed only ten times a year, are eight times more likely to end up with malignant melanoma.

With all these statistics citing the dangers of tanning beds, it may be a surprise that the popularity of fake baking has only increased. Why would such a harmful behavior continue to gain momentum? Scientists may have figured it out.

It turns out that a person using a tanning bed experiences a similar feeling that a person addicted to alcohol or drugs feels. To put it simply, using a tanning bed is actually addicting. Despite all the known health risks, tanning bed users experience a reward-and-reinforcement trigger in their brain. Their brown skin is the reward, and because they want to keep it up and retain that rewarding feeling they must soon return to the tanning bed. And so a cycle that may ultimately lead them to losing portions of their skin begins.

Like any addiction, it is hard to break the cycle. The best advice is to never start fake baking in the first place. There are plenty of safer options. Spray tanning is steadily gaining popularity. Lotions that promise to darken your skin are also available. And, when all else fails, you can always spend a little time in the real sunlight. The vitamin D you receive from the sun’s rays is incredibly healthy for you. Just remember to slather on the sunblock and you’re good to go.

To your health and beauty,

The Drs. Wall


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