Malignant Melanoma and Beauty
Beauty is often defined as an aesthetic characteristic of certain objects, which makes these objects aesthetically pleasing to see. These objects may include sunsets, landscapes, humans and creative works of art. Beauty, along with beauty and art, is perhaps the most important philosophical topic of modern aesthetics, among the major branches of psychology. The word ‘beauty’ was derived from the Latin word ‘Gaudium’, which means enjoyment or happiness. In recent years, however, the concept of beauty has been associated with the theories of aestheticism, wherein beauty is determined by a person’s ‘perceived’ ability to enjoy a beautiful object.
According to aesthetic theory, beauty is determined by three elements: physical beauty, psychological beauty and personal beauty. Physical beauty, as the term suggests, refers to the physiological features of a person such as hair texture, facial features and skin condition. Psychological beauty is related to a person’s moral sense or ‘value judgment’ and involves the evaluation of beauty from a perspective other than beauty. Personal beauty, on the other hand, is more subjective; it relies on the opinion of others about the person in question. Skin disease is often used as a yardstick for assessing a person’s ‘personal beauty’.
Many aesthetic dermatologists believe that aesthetic dermatology is not science but morality, as beauty is seen in human form as something which is inherent and special and not something which can be altered. For this reason, some specialists have argued that beauty is a subjective construct, determined by a person’s own assessment of his or her own ‘look’. Others, while agreeing that beauty is indeed subjective, opine that its definition is fixed by conventions and social norms which have been observed over the course of last century, and which are thus no longer applicable in this century. Thus, while some dermatologists today deal exclusively with skin disease and psoriasis, others conduct aesthetic assessments of both patients and their families.
Aesthetics and cosmetology originate from the same source as acupuncture, which was an offshoot of Chinese medicine. In fact, aesthetics has its roots in the early Chinese disciplines of acupuncture, acupressure and tai chi. Acupuncture is based on the belief that there are energy pathways or ‘fenuses’ running through all living things, connecting them to the central power of the universe, the’Jing’ (also pronounced ‘Chi’) through which all life is nourished. By unblocking these energy pathways, acupuncture can improve the quality of life and cure disease and physical ailments.
Acupuncture treats the skin via the skin needle, or ‘tema’ as it is called in Chinese. The acupuncturist will use either a blunt needle or a fine, narrow sterile pin prick to puncture the skin at specific points along these energy pathways – in the skin of the palm and soles of the feet, the base of the thumb and the brain cases of infants. The ‘Acupoints’ will then be treated using either an acidic or alkaline solution, based on whether the areas affected by the illness are classified as parasympathetic, cardiac or autonomic. When these energy pathways are restored and the illness ceases, beauty improvements will occur both in the patient and in those witnessing or caring about them.
While aesthetics may not be considered a medical specialty in itself, some specialties within the subject include aesthetic neuropathy, dermabrasion, laser skin resurfacing, photodynamic therapy and genital rejuvenation. Each of these techniques has been used to treat some types of malignant melanoma, basal cell cancer and even hair loss. Modern advances in both technology and medicine mean that this form of therapy can help to improve the quality of life for many patients who are suffering from malignant or benign skin cancer and the advances being made in this area are only increasing.