Summer’s Here – Don’t Get Burned

Posted July 10, 2016 in Home, Patient Safety

This week’s San Francisco Plastic Surgery post is a PSA for preventing typical summer injuries, because prevention is the best medicine. Plastic Surgery, and Cosmetic Surgery in particular, is often about fixing stuff.

Plastic Surgery Problems We Are Born With

Some plastic surgery problems we are born with. Disproportionate Fat, Small Breasts or Prominent Ears cannot be prevented. They are simply genetics. Other plastic surgery problems we earn, or at least aggravate. This article lists some simple steps you can take to prevent common plastic surgery problems, and some fun Bay Area recreation options to help burn those extra calories. While some seem to age faster than others, many normal summertime activities further accelerate the aging process. Some tips to slow down a few of the problems we earn are listed below.

Plastic Surgery Problems We Earn

Other problems we earn, and summer is the best time to prevent them. I am not taking about using the latest Ophidiological Oil, but simple mundane practices that can make a huge difference over a lifetime. You’ve heard them before, but they bear repeating.

Many of the Cosmetic Plastic Surgeries I perform are to repair the ravages of time. While Plastic Surgeons can smooth over some of the more prominent changes, we cannot turn back the clock, but here are a few summertime recommendations that will slow it down: Sun Protection, Hydration, Diet, Exercise, No Smoking and No Burning.

Sun Protection

Limiting your skin’s exposure to the sun helps prevent wrinkles, discoloration and skin cancer. Liberal and repeated application of sunscreen is a must, and not just if you have fair skin. Apply sunscreen before exposing your skin to the sun, and keep applying it every hour or two. Reapply after swimming or excessive sweating. Shade and sun protective clothing are also good, but these work better with sunscreen.

I have included a picture from my post entitled How is SPF Calculated? below. The right side of his face was protected by the cab of his truck. The left side was next to the window. The results are as clear as they are dramatic.

This long haul trucker, famously featured in the New England Journal of Medicine, has unilateral dermatoheliosis, which means one sided sun damage to his skin. With the sun shining through the driver's side window over the years, the left side of his face has received more sun exposure than the right side.

This long haul trucker, famously featured in the New England Journal of Medicine, has unilateral dermatoheliosis, which means one sided sun damage to his skin. With the sun shining through the driver’s side window over the years, the left side of his face has received more sun exposure than the right side.

Hydration

Hydrated skin is happy skin. It not only looks better, but it resists sun damage better. Although our outsides are dry, our bodies are mostly water. The summer heat, especially if you are keeping active, increases the pace of water loss through evaporation and increased respiration. Hydration is also good for maintaining weight, because thirst is often confused with hunger. Since most food has water in it, this reflex makes evolutionary sense. However, if you don’t need more calories, plain water is a better option.

Diet And Exercise

Diet and Exercise go hand in hand. They are two sides of the same equation. The difference between the energy that goes in (food) and the energy that goes out (exercise) is apportioned as fat. If you consume more than you burn, you gain weight. The more optimistic corollary is that if you burn more energy than you consume, you lose weight. It’s that simple and difficult at the same time.

No Smoking

According to the latest CDC Smoking Fact Feet, 16.8% of adults (18 years older) smoked in 2014, down from 20.9% in 2005. The numbers are lowest in the Western US with 13.1% of adults smoking, with California and Utah leading the way. If you are considering joining the non-smoking, there is no better time than now. Every cigarette is time off your life.

The most recent CDC data about smoking among US adults is from 2014, and we are moving in the right direction.

The most recent CDC data about smoking among US adults is from 2014, and we are moving in the right direction.

Cigarette smoke has direct and immediate effects on the circulation of the skin. For operations like Facelift, Tummy Tucks and Breast Reductions, complication rates for wound healing are increased 600% in smokers. Most Board Certified Plastic Surgeons will not consider these operations without smoking cessation of at least four weeks before and after surgery. Additionally, quitting smoking will do more for you than even the most perfect cosmetic result.

No Burning

Summertime is fire season and the season for burns. Not just sunburns, as discussed above, but all types of thermal burns. Barbecues and fire pits are common sources of trouble. Open flames should always be treated with care, especially if children are in the area. As is the theme of this posting, prevention is the best medicine. Establishing a safe Barbecue Zone, where activity is limited to cooking is a good start. Once the cooking is over, the grill remains hot, especially if cooking over coals. After the fire is out, the distinction between hot and cold may not be immediately obvious. For fire pits and grills, establish a clear zone around them, and be certain the area remains clear until they have cooled.

If a burn occurs, clean, cold water should be applied immediately to quickly cool the area and prevent deeper injury. Prompt, appropriate medical care should be obtained, especially for deeper or larger burns.

Summer Fun

Summer in the San Francisco Bay Area is a great time of year. There are not too many places on the planet where you can travel a few minutes and experience a change the temperature of forty degrees, but this is a normal summer in San Francisco. The cold coastal currents which make surfing less enjoyable also cool and dehumidify the air. The result is the ability to enjoy the outdoors of your choosing within minutes. It is also the source of the quote, “The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco.” While attributed to Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), it is most likely an adaptation of James Quin’s remarks about Paris. See the Anchor Brewing Blog or the Quote Investigator for more details about this.

Many of the larger Bay Area Parks appear on this map of the currently under construction Bay Area Ridge Trail

Many of the larger Bay Area Parks appear on this map of the currently under construction Bay Area Ridge Trail (click on map above to visit the Bay Area Ridge Trail website and a larger version of this map)

The abundance of National, State and Local Parks is another Bay Area attraction. The Bay Area Ridge Trail is an ambitious 550+ mile long project, which when completed will link 75 of the Greater San Francisco Bay Area’s parks and open spaces. As of 2016, 365 miles are completed. The Bay Area is also the future home of the San Francisco Bay Trail, which runs around the San Francisco Bay Shoreline. As of 2016, 350 miles of the planned 500 mile long route are completed. So have a good breakfast, put on some sunscreen, bring along some water, go outside and get some exercise. It all right here, with a low price tag and great rewards.

From the North Bay’s foggy coastal Muir Woods (National Park) to the toasty hiking trails surrounding the East Bay’s Black Diamond Mines (East Bay Park) at the foot of Mt. Diablo (State Park) is only 30 miles.

To Fix Or Not To Fix?

When prevention is not enough, there are plastic surgery options. I am a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, so I am very aware of the latest cosmetic plastic surgery options. However, whether to fix these problems is a separate debate and a personal decision. Most patients struggle, at least a little, with the decision to voluntarily under go surgery. A careful weighing of the risks and benefits is an important part of the decision making process. The benefits of Cosmetic Surgery are also personal, and depend primarily on two issues: the magnitude of deviation from “normal,” and the amount of emotional discomfort the variation causes. Plastic Surgery can provide safe and effective treatment for the right patient and under the right circumstances, and your results will last longer when maintenance and prevention are incorporated.

My office is in East Bay community of Walnut Creek, where it can reach into the 100s in the summer months, while just over the hills in Oakland it will be in the 60s. If you are looking for a Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Consultation, and a little heat, give me a call (925) 943-6353.