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Which cosmetic procedures are safe and which are not during cancer treatment?

Which cosmetic procedures are safe and which are not during cancer treatment?

It doesn’t matter if you are aware of the different types of cancer or even if you are prepared for the possibility that it may affect your life, it is surprising always.

And with this devastating news come additional surprises; for example, how you manage the diagnosis with emotion, how you feel throughout your care and how your priorities change or do not change.

If you have always been in the habit of offering occasional cosmetic procedures, you may find that you have not lost the desire to continue these treatments for cancer treatment. In fact, since cancer and its treatments often have cosmetic consequences, your motivation for making beauty treatments even more powerful.

It goes without saying that anticancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy clearly take precedence over aesthetic treatments, regardless of the importance of beauty. But while elective cosmetic surgery is completely prohibited, doctors say there are non-invasive beauty treatments that can coexist with cancer treatments.

“When patients undergo treatment active against their cancer, the most important thing to assess is the state of their immune system “, explains Dr Manish Shah, plastic surgeon based in Denver. “By working with their oncology doctor, I make sure I have the green light to continue elective treatment as long as the patient is not at increased risk of complications.” Below, doctors reveal which treatments are safe during cancer treatment and which to save until later.

What is safe

Chemical peels

Dr. Morgan Rabach , dermatologist in New York, is very favorable to certain treatments during this difficult period. For example, superficial chemical peels – in which a mild acid solution is applied topically, to accelerate cell renewal and therefore treat acne scars , hyperpigmentation , rough texture and fine lines – are an option that will not interfere with patient care. “These treatments make people feel better, refreshed and are the best version of themselves,” says Dr. Rabach, who explains that light chemical peels cause “minimal downtime and discomfort and can really make a big difference. ”


For a less invasive option to stimulate the skin, Dr. Rabach recommends HydraFacials , calling them “completely safe” for chemotherapy. Facial treatment, which is a medical-grade resurfacing treatment that gently vacuates dead skin cells and debris while hydrating the skin with serums, takes only about 30 minutes and leaves virtually no downtime . As with any facial, says Dr. Rabach, HyrdaFacials can be a rather relaxing experience, providing patients with a much-needed psychological boost in addition to its skin tone benefits.

Injection of hyaluronic acid

Dr. Rabach is also in favor of injectable base of hyaluronic acid, such as Juvéderm and Restylane , provided that the practitioner chosen by the patient goes beyond due diligence. “Small amounts of fillers are acceptable during chemotherapy or radiation therapy, but the patient should be examined by a certified dermatologist or plastic facial surgeon to reduce the risk of bruising and infection,” a- she said, stressing that fillers can help restore the face. volume in those who have lost a lot of weight. “There are special soaps that we use for immunocompromised people [to clean the injection site] as well as certain techniques, such as using a cannula, a blunt instrument similar to that of a tubing, used to reduce bruising. ”

Dr. Shah echoes this cautious and optimistic endorsement of loads of hyaluronic acid, which can be used in areas such as lips , the cheeks and the nasolabial folds . “Injections of hyaluronic acid fillers should not be a problem for chemotherapy patients,” he said, recalling that it was imperative to ensure that the injection site was particularly clean and properly prepared. with a surgical preparation solution to reduce bacteria on the surface.

What to avoid


But if the fillers get the green light, all injectables are not encouraged during cancer treatment. injections of Botox and other neurotoxins used to reduce the appearance of lines frontal and ocular , although safe for the general population, presents a higher risk for cancer patients. “Neurotoxin injections are contraindicated in active cancer treatments, simply because you want to limit the chances that a weakened immune system will spread the neurotoxin beyond the targeted areas,” says Dr. Shah. “The last thing you want is for your patient to develop botulism.”


Kybella , which is used to reduce fat in small areas , like under the chin , is another type of injection to avoid during cancer treatment because, says Dr. Shah, it acts by inflammatory destruction of fat cells induced chemically. “Kybella carries a risk of chemical ulcers and tissue necrosis,” he says. “Both of these results increase the risk of systemic infection and death in cancer patients.”

In addition, Kybella can simply worsen an already uncomfortable cancer patient. “I wouldn’t recommend it out of empathy for the comfort level of the patient,” says Dr. Rabach. “Kybella can have a lot of swelling and bruising after treatment.”


Another treatment that Dr. Rabach encourages cancer patients to avoid, in part because of excessive discomfort: laser resurfacing . “[Treatments like] Fraxel are painful and may be too difficult to manage, otherwise they will not feel better,” she said, adding that the possibility of an infection is an even stronger reason to wait for the lasers to resurface. “Lasers create tiny areas of skin damage and these small areas of damage in some immunocompromised patients are more likely to cause complications such as viral infections and bacterial infections.” According to Dr. Rabach, they can also cause discomfort and scarring.

Hair removal , although it is performed with a different type of laser than that used for skin resurfacing, must also be suspended. “Although laser hair removal is definitely safer than laser resurfacing, several chemotherapeutic agents make the skin more sensitive to light,” says Dr. Shah. “This means that the risk of burns is higher – this treatment is therefore contraindicated in the active treatment of cancer, in most cases.”


Ultimately, the top priority of a responsible dermatologist or plastic surgeon certified by the board of directors is not only to achieve good results, but also to protect the health and safety of its patients. “I think it’s great for patients to do things that make them feel better. Treating cancer is a tough battle for most patients. However, the benefits of elective cosmetic procedures must be weighed against the inherent risks, ”says Dr. Shah. “It is always good for a patient to work closely with their oncologist to determine when the patient is safest for non-emergency cosmetic procedures. If all parts are [on the same page], the chances of a cosmetic procedure being performed safely increase. ”

However, if your medical team is not involved in cosmetic procedures while chemotherapy or radiotherapy is in progress, that does not mean that you cannot do things that make you look and feel better. “We encourage patients to practice good self-care,” said Dr. Rabach. “Sometimes a simple, luxurious mask or other skin care product can really lift your spirits.”

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