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  • Writer's pictureSally Schrempf

Not my nose!

I've always loved the sun. Growing up in the UK made sunbathing more challenging, but I took advantage of every ray of sunshine that came my way. I remember watching the sky and running outside whenever there was a break in the clouds. I even had a job as a dental assistant that allowed me to dash out for a quick hit of the sun between patients. Yes, I was an avid sun worshiper — and a complete idiot!



photo credit Wix



When I was nineteen, I left England and became an au pair. (Aka, a nanny). Greece was the first stop, and then Spain. Most of my workday was spent by the pool with the children I was looking after, and it felt like I had the dream job! While in Madrid, I got married (for the first time) to a US serviceman, and we ended up in beautiful, sunny Arizona.


The downside to all that wonderful sun


My first bout of skin cancer was a basal cell on my forehead in my early thirties. I was left with a rather large scar, but it was thankfully hidden under my bangs. I remember feeling lucky it had happened there — and god-forbid, not on my nose! In my late fifties, I had another basal cell on my forehead; this one was tiny, caught early, and was quickly and easily removed.

But when I turned sixty, the big one hit me right on the nose! Now, I must confess that I've always been a little vain about my nose; I don't have beautiful eyes or voluptuous lips, but I did have a cute nose! I knew something was wrong when I noticed a tiny dot on my nose that bled every time I washed my face. When the diagnosis came back positive for basal cell, I wanted to cry because there was no way my hair could cover this one.


Mohs Surgery


The surgery was horrible. Thankfully, I had an excellent surgeon who performed the Mohs procedure (which saved as much healthy tissue as possible). Still, all the cutting and stitching freaked me out!

I went home with a compression bandage on my nose, terrified of removing the dressing and caring for the stitches. I was instructed to soak the wound with water and white vinegar, pat the area dry, apply Vaseline, and keep it covered. I did all of this in the bathroom with the lights off!


The Healing Process


A week later, I went back to have the stitches removed. When I told the nurse I was incredibly squeamish, she told me I probably shouldn't look at my nose! (Which didn't sound very reassuring.) However, I did get some encouragement when it came to what I could do to help with the healing process; I was advised to eat protein and greens. Now, here was something I could happily do, and even excel at!


When the stitches were removed, I only had to wash the area and keep it moisturized and covered. After a week, I started using the ScarAway sheets recommended by my surgeon. (These are made from silicone, which helps soften and flatten scars.) ScarAway was a game-changer for me; they were easy to apply and remove, and best of all, they covered up my scar, and I no longer had to have a massive gauze pad taped to my face! You can find ScarAway at most drugstores (or on my Amazon storefront, here.)


Helpful Supplements


After much research, I started taking a supplement called Polypodium leucotomos. Peer-reviewed studies show that Polypodium can help prevent skin cell abnormalities caused by UV radiation. An article from The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology states the following:

"Polypodium leucotomos extract 240 mg taken twice daily for 60 days was a safe and effective means for reducing the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation."

Although a pill won't replace sunscreen, polypodium leucotomos (an antioxidant-rich fern from Central America) sounds pretty impressive. If you live in the US, you can find this supplement at Walgreens under the brand name Heliocare. (And I have a link to buy it on Amazon here.)

Another supplement worth taking is Nicotinamide (a form of vitamin B). The recommended dose is 500 mg twice a day. You should be able to find Niacinamide anywhere supplements are sold.


Heliocare came out with a combination of both these supplements. It is called Heliocare Advanced, and I have a link to it here.


Skin Care

Wearing sunscreen is essential (even on cloudy days), and I like a mineral sunscreen over a chemical one. My absolute favorite is the All Mineral Sunscreen from Alastin. It melts into your skin and goes beautifully under makeup. I have no affiliation with this company — I'm just obsessed with this sunscreen!


I also like the Essential Defense Mineral Sunscreen SPF 35 from SkinMedica, and the Scar Cream Protectant SPF 35 from Derma E.



Updates

So here's my nose four months post-surgery. I was terrified it would be misshapen, but I think it looks about the same as before. I hope this will be encouraging for anyone facing this procedure.



The Importance of a Healthy Diet

We're often asked what we'd like to tell our younger selves. And, of course, mine would be to tell young me to "stay out of the sun!" But thankfully, I did do one thing right — and that's eating the Mediterranean way. This plant-based diet (full of fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish, and olive oil) is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. I believe these foods have helped mitigate the dumb decisions I made. And considering the extreme amount of time I spent baking myself, I'm lucky I didn't turn into a prune!

These sheets can be cut to size and are reusable.




This is an excellent supplement for any sun worshipper.





*This blog contains affiliate links to my Amazon Storefront. I will receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you purchase from this site. Your support is greatly appreciated.




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