Are there any skin treatments that are safe during chemo?

I know this may seem like an odd question, but are there any procedures that are safe for a patient going through chemo and antibody treatments? I am 51 years old, have been battling cancer for three years and just feel like I need a bit of a lift. I was considering Thermage to lift the lower face area as I have slight sagging along the jawline. Thank you!

I think this is a great question.  I love general dermatology as well as the cosmetic and often see patients from the Swedish Hospital Tumor Institute which is across the street from me in Seattle.

So, in answer to your question, yes there are safe treatments!   If you are in active chemo, in my experience (and I’ve not been able to find studies on this), treatments that need your cells (fibroblasts) to make collagen to work, don’t work well.  I’m guessing it’s because the chemo is affecting your whole system, including making your skin cells a bit sluggish.  If you are in a maintenance chemo that doesn’t affect general cell function too much, you might be fine.

Thermage and Sculptra fall in the category of therapies that need active cells to work because they stimulate your cells to make collagen, at least in part. Avoid those if you are in active chemo.

Good choices for you would be fillers like Juvederm or Restylane which are very safe hyaluronic acid (the glue between your skin cells) fillers and could give you a nice result.  Also, unless you have rare neurological problems like myasthenia gravis, Botox would be safe for you.  I know this sounds scarey to some, but ironically it’s one of the safest treatments.  If you still feel uncomfortable, you could have your cancer doctor okay it.  Good luck!!  Dr. I

Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

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