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Solar keratoses or sunspots are hard, sometimes
sensitive, red, flaky or cr usty patches on the
skin that are caused by excessive UV radiation
exposure over time.
Often found on the head, neck and backs
of hands, they can occur in all skin types, even
people with ‘strong’ or olive skin.
Hair loss in men makes them even more
susceptible to developing solar keratoses.
“Keratoses are usually a warning sign that
the skin has been damag ed by the sun and that
skin cancers may develop,” says plastic and
reconstructive surgeon, Dr Vij Vijayasekaran,
from the Western Australian Plastic Surgery
Centre and Assure Medispa.
The WA Plastic Surgery Centre reports
that around 70 per cent of the patients admitted
for surgery to remove keratoses and pre-cancerous
lesions are men.
Treatment is usually by surgical excision and
reconstruction under anaesthetic. Scarring
typically results. Reconstruction may include
skin grafts or flaps to resurface the defects
created by excision of the lesion.
“It’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do
it,” says Glenn Swift, a local practitioner of the
Alexander Technique. Posture, co-ordination
and balance are key to the technique. It
won’t help with your shirt selection but it can
impact on your poise. Ditching bad habits and
rethinking (or just plain thinking) about how
you do things – that’s the idea.
“There’s no right way to stand, sit, run
or lift weights, but there’s any number
of wrong ways,” says Glenn, who warns
against exercising to help a bad back if
it’s not done very carefully.
“The wrong way is when we’re not thinking,
we’re not paying attention, and we’ve slipped
into our old habits of co-ordination.”
How can the Alexander Technique help?
By taking the pressure off. Freeing the
neck, allowing the spine to lengthen and
encouraging economy of movement are
central to the principles of the technique that
helps you ‘unlearn’ whatever it is you’re doing
that puts you in pain in the first place.
“When we’re in pain we do our best to
stabilise the pain site – our back, neck, hips or
knees. To stabilise we stiffen, when we stiffen
we contract, and when we contract we put
pressure on the pain site,” says Glenn.
“The Alexander Technique shows
you a better way to do whatever it is
you want to do,” he explains.
It’s no quick fix. A series of six or more
lessons is recommended. Lessons are
one-on-one and involve a series of guided
movements – sitting, standing and lying down
– encouraging you to rediscover a natural
balance. As well as assisting with back pain,
benefits stretch to stress management and
improved confidence and self-esteem. See
austat.org.au for more information.
Surgery costs start from $164 for a small,
non-invasive lesion, excluding anaesthetist,
hospital, theatre and pathology fees.
Good news: there are a few easy steps you can take
to avoid going under the knife. Dr Vijayasekaran
says adopting a regime of g ood skincare, as early
in life as possible, will significantly reduce your risk
of surgical inter vention down the track.
“A growing number of men in WA,
particularly fly-in-fly-out workers, are now
recognising that sun exposure on the job could
leave them with a legacy of prematurely aged,
pigmented and lined skin. The sun is the single
most damaging thing, so having a g ood skin
regime early will pay off in years to come.”
He sug gests, as a bare minimum, using a topical
Vitamin C ser um tog ether with sunscreen, every
day. Washing your face in the morning and at
night is also recommended. “Some may see this as
a ‘girl thing’, but it’s not very manly having parts
of your face or ear removed when you need to
have pre-cancerous lesions cut out.”
Consult a doctor if a new lesion, spot or
blemish does not resolve within six weeks.
THINK ABOUT IT
That niggling back pain could
come down to one little thing
– your personal style
Australia has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world and West Aussie men are most
at risk, often enduring daily exposure to our strong sun at work. But prevention is possible
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