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We know that smoking and drinking alcohol can be addicting. Some people even have a sex addiction. Studies now show that tanning, whether by the sun or in a tanning booth, can also be addicting. This is independent of the desire to look good and despite the knowledge of the harmful effects of continued ultraviolet light overexposure.

Research has indicated that although the motivation of people seeking a tan is an enhanced appearance, they also experience improved moods, a sense of relaxation and socialization all of which are commonly associated with addictions. Those who tan frequently do clearly demonstrate signs of physical and psychological dependence and have shown symptoms of withdrawal when unable to do so and this is worse in younger individuals. Withdrawal has not been seen in those who tan infrequently.

How does this occur? This has been shown to be chemically mediated as in other addictions. What transpires is that the ultraviolet light increases the release of opioid light endorphins which provide a sense of well being and a relief of pain.

Why is all of this important? It has been irrefutably shown that overexposure to ultraviolet light, whether natural or artificial, increases a person’s risk for malignant melanoma as well as basal and squamous cell carcinomas. While the latter two usually grow locally, melanomas can definitely be lethal. Furthermore, the UV light prematurely and significantly ages the skin leading to a great example of “short term gain but long term pain”. If smoking is added to this, the effect is not additive but geometric (1 + 1 = 4).

Prevention and moderation is key. Parents should emphasize to their children the importance of religious usage of a broad spectrum sunscreen. Usage of tanning booths should be discouraged or largely restricted as should frequent sunbathing. They can use the topical tanners (tans in a can) which are non-addicting but they do not protect the skin from UV damage.

If you have any questions regarding skin care, identification or treatment of skin cancers such as malignant melanoma, or to schedule a complimentary consultation with me regarding another plastic surgery procedure, please call my office at 480-451-3000.

Steven H. Turkeltaub, M.D. P.C.
Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona

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A Message Regarding Coronavirus/COVID-19

In light of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, we would like to let you know of some of the major precautions we are taking in our office to maximize cleanliness and keep the environment as sanitary and safe as possible. Our highest priority is always to ensure the safety of every individual who sees us and we are taking extreme infection-control measures to maintain cleanliness and “sterility” of surfaces and the overall environment.

We will be limiting dates and times for office appointments and consultations due to safety and other issues. Consequently, if you have already made an office appointment or consultation prior to March 18, 2020 to occur at a later time, this may need to be changed.

For anyone considering plastic surgery, we are now offering Virtual Consultations and Telemedicine through Skype. A great number of aesthetic or insurance-related issues can be evaluated via pictures and online video conferencing, making this an excellent way to find out more about particular procedures, determine candidacy for treatment, receive answers to questions and facilitate being able to move forward with care once the government lifts all restrictions.

In an abundance of caution, we are asking all current patients who are experiencing a fever, cough, chills, fatigue or any type of respiratory illness to please delay any upcoming appointments at our practice. We can talk with you by phone or email to establish a new date and time for the appointment.

We are all in this together. Our team urges everyone to follow the guidelines recommended by local health authorities and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which include frequent handwashing for a minimum of 20 seconds, social distancing, staying home if you are feeling sick, and contacting your healthcare provider if you feel you are experiencing symptoms.

For more information, please read our blog – Coronavirus and You: Important Information

For further updates, please check our blog.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us by phone or email.