So, you’ve had a skin cancer…….

So, you’ve had a skin cancer. Getting a cancer diagnosis can feel frightening, it’s natural to feel worried about what’s next.

At Dermatology & Laser of Del Mar your health and safety is important to us. We are here to support you through your skin cancer diagnosis, treatment and onto a plan for skin cancer preventation.

Here are some preventative steps we can take together to insure good skin-health in the future:

Photodynamic Therapy

Photodynamic Therapy is an excellent option for most patients that have dealt with actinic keratosis and/or have a history of non-melanoma skin cancer.  This treatment is designed to decrease actinic damage that can evolve into skin cancer.

What does it do?

Photodynamic therapy is FDA indicated for the treatment of minimally to moderately thick actinic keratosis of the face or scalp and/or body. It is important to treat AKs because there is no way to tell when or which lesions will progress to squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), the second most common form of skin cancer.

Photodynamic therapy is  a combination therapy utilizing Aminolevulonic acid and BLU-U Light , a 2-part treatment.  This treatment is effective in combating AK’s  because it uses a light activated drug therapy to destroy AK’s.

How does Photodynamic Therapy work?

A Topical gel is applied to the treatment area. The gel is absorbed by the AK cells where it is converted to a chemical that makes the cells extremely sensitive to light. When the AK cells are exposed to laser or blu-u-light, a reaction occurs which destroys many of the AK cells.   

Does insurance cover this treatment?

We are able to bill your Medicare and most commercial PPO insurance for Photodynamic Therapy. You may request a pre-certification from our office when you schedule your Photodynamic Therapy.

Fraxel Laser Resurfacing

For those patients that are seeking not only an improvement in their skin health but want to see a noticable cosmetic improvement, Fraxel laser is another option for you. 

Sub-clinical photo damage before and after Fraxel laser treatment. This type of damage often leads to skin cancer

Fraxel laser skin resurfacing is FDA approved to treat actinic keratosis. A series of 2-3 treatments at one month intervals may be needed, however you will see improvement after even one Fraxel session.

Fraxel laser will take away red scaley actinic patches on the skin, actinic keratosis, brown sun damage and rough skin texture. It will also provide an amazing improvement in scarring, fine lines and crepey skin. 

What is the recovery?

Your healing will be similar to a sunburn. You will experience 1-2 days of moderate redness and puffiness, 1-2 days of flaking or peeling and by the fifth day you can expect to look fine. You will be able to do your normal activities during the healing time, but you may not look your best. You may want to refrain from social engagements, having photos taken and any strenuous outdoor activity.

Will my insurance pay for it?

Insurance will not pay for laser. However, if you have a history of treatment for actinic keratosis, or nonmelanoma skin cancer we can provide documentation for your FSA administrator upon request. 

Heliocare Advanced Oral Supplements

HelioCare Advanced is an oral supplement that we recommend to patients with actinic keratosis and/or a history of skin cancer. 

HelioCare Advanced contains Polypodium leukotomos, a tropical fern loaded with antioxidative, immunomodulatory, and anti-inflammatory benefits. Most importantly, HelioCare Advanced contains Nicotinamide, a form of vitamin B3, shown to protect against ultraviolet damage caused by sun exposure. In clinical studies Nicotimamide has been shown to reduce actinic keratosis and squamous cell skin cancer*. 

HelioCare Advanced is available at the front desk and should be taken daily.

*In a randomized controlled trial performed in Australia (published in the New England Journal of Medicine), the risks of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma were significantly reduced — by 23%.

Retinol and Topical Vitamin C & E Complex

We refer to topical Vitamin C & E Complex and Retinol Complex and the dynamic duo. Both are important for maintaining good skin health. Topical vitamin C will boost your skins’ own natural SPF, while working to repair sun damage on a cellular level. Retinol is important for exfoliating rapidly dividing cells, such as actinic keratosis. Both of these products will also give you an excellent cosmetic benefit, smoothing and brightening your skin.

Skin Tips For Healthier Skin

  • Use your sunscreen daily, even on cloudy days. Cloud cover does not protect you from UV rays.
  • Re-apply your sunscreen every 1-2 hours when you are outdoors.
  • Avoid outdoor activites during peak sun times of 10am-3pm.
  • Wear a hat to protect your face and ears. Skin cancer occurs on and in the ear far more often than patients realize.
  • UV window tinting is an excellent idea to those that have long drive times, or travel by car a lot for work.
  • Be sure to see your dermatologist every 6-12 months for a full body skin exam.


For more information about how to prevent skin cancer, or to schedule a full body skin exam, contact us.


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