Sun Damaged Skin
Over 80% of skin aging is due to the sun. Wrinkles, sun spots, dilated red blood vessels on the skin (telangiectasias) and photoaged skin can be reversed with:
Dermatology Treatment & Research Center utilizes multiple technologies including resurfacing lasers, pigment/brown spot lasers, and vascular (red spot) lasers. These technologies offer precise treatment with minimal downtime.
A chemical peel is a procedure in which a chemical solution, such as glycolic acid, is applied to the skin to remove the top layers. As a result, the skin that grows back is smoother. Peels can be done alone or combined with other cosmetic procedures.
Automated microneedling (also known as Collagen Induction Therapy or CIT) is a new innovation in aesthetic medicine for treating the appearance of fine lines, acne scars and improvement of the skin’s overall appearance. During this procedure, tiny needles are used to create controlled micro-punctures to the skin in order to produce collagen and elastin. The skin’s repair process results in improvement of the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Automated microneedling also creates superficial microchannels which can be used with topical gels, creams and serums to help improve the overall appearance of the skin.
What is Sun Damage?
Long term and repeated exposure to sunlight, especially ultraviolet light, can cause a variety of cosmetic and medical problems related to the skin, commonly referred to as sun damage. Sun damage can affect any area of the skin as a result of excessive exposure to the ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun. Sun damage most commonly occurs on the face, hands and arms, and may lead to sun spots, age spots, rough skin and wrinkles. Years of sun exposure can also lead to premature aging and skin cancer. Some individuals may notice skin lesions that are a form of actinic keratosis, which is is a precancerous skin condition that develops from years of sun exposure.
What Exactly Causes Photodamage?
Photodamage is damage incurred by excessive exposure to light, specifically the UVA and UVB rays that are in sunlight and sunless tanning lamps. This exposure leads to photodamage or what is also referred to as photoaging. The skin ages naturally due to biology. However, according to studies, the aging process can be accelerated by sun exposure. This acceleration occurs in all three layers of the skin, the epidermis or outer layer that we see, the dermis, and the subcutaneous tissue. The dermis is the layer of skin in which collagen, elastin, and other critical fibers that strengthen and smooth the skin are located. When we expose our skin to UVA and UVB light, the thermal energy from these rays absorbs into the dermis, breaking down these important proteins. When too much UVA light is absorbed into the skin, the body responds by producing more elastin. This is the chemical that gives the skin its stretch. Elastin also helps to repair damaged collagen, which is why the body produces more after excessive exposure to sunlight. However, while normal amounts of elastin are beneficial to the skin, too much of this chemical, resulting in metalloproteinases enzymes, can be harmful.
Signs of photodamage include dark spots (age spots), leathery skin texture, a yellowing tint to the skin, broken blood vessels, sun-related breakouts, mottled complexion, and lines and wrinkles.
Can Sun Damage Be Reversed?
It may not be possible to reverse every bit of sun damage. That said, there are numerous treatments that can improve the skin’s tone, texture, and resiliency. Some steps are taken at home via quality skincare products and good nutrition. Some involve professional treatments performed by a properly-trained, certified provider. The various treatments that we offer in our friendly, professional office stimulate tissue renewal, but each may do so in a unique way. For example, laser treatments address sun damage by breaking up the pigment in red or brown spots, by resurfacing the epidermis, and by stimulating collagen production. Some treatments, such as chemical peels, work against photoaging by accelerating the body’s natural cellular turnover process. A chemical peel is a form of deeper exfoliation that cannot be achieved at home. Under careful supervision, these treatments can achieve significant tissue renewal with minimal downtime. Finally, our microneedling treatment is beneficial for sun damage because it stimulates a profound resurgence in collagen production to rebuild the tone, texture, and firmness of the skin.
Are Any Of These Procedures Painful?
Cosmetic dermatology treatments are designed to be effective while also being as comfortable as possible. Many treatments are performed using a local, topical anesthetic. Applied as an ointment or cream, a topical anesthetic is powerfully effective without affecting a person’s cognition. Patients can undergo treatment comfortably but without any extra need for downtime. When you consult with us about treatment for photodamage, you can expect your provider to discuss the ways in which they work to support your comfort during treatment. Additionally, precise aftercare instructions are provided to each patient to help them manage post-treatment discomfort and care.
Will I Require Multiple Treatments?
Some people require multiple treatments to acheive their desired result. This aspect of treatment is influenced by the type of treatment a patient chooses, their skin condition at the time of treatment, and their unique response to treatment. Generally, deeper treatments like CO2 laser resurfacing and strong chemical peels achieve more significant results with fewer treatments, sometimes only one. However, patients must schedule more downtime to recover from their procedure. Lighter treatments carry much less downtime and risk but may require more sessions to achieve the desired outcome. The benefit of having a variety of treatment options is that you can customize your program to suit your needs. During your consultation, your provider can discuss the details of each recommended treatment to help you plan for your best results.
When Can I Expect To See Results?
Results from treatments for photoaging depend on several factors. Primarily, we expect results in relation to the depth of treatment. Stronger resurfacing treatments may be followed by up to several days of redness and flaking or peeling. However, once the skin has healed, it exhibits a smoother, more uniform, pink tone than it did before. More superficial treatments may not cause the same degree of post-procedure redness and peeling but also usually achieve more subtle results. Dark spots may be lighter but still noticeable after one light laser or chemical peel treatment. In general, we prepare patients to notice their expected improvement over the course of several weeks rather than all at once.
Are There Any Risks Or Side Effects Associated With These Treatments?
The treatments designed to correct photodamage are generally considered safe and effective. Many devices have built-in safety features that prevent overheating the skin. Chemical peels are performed with care and precise timing to prevent complications like blisters or burns. Microneedling is virtually risk-free when performed by a trained technician. For the most part, patients who undergo treatment for sun damage experience minor and temporary side effects like redness, swelling, bruising, and flaking or peeling.
The best treatment against sun damage is preventing it from occurring in the first place. It is important to wear sunscreen on a daily basis and avoid excessive exposure to the sun, especially during mid-day hours when the sun is strongest. Additional ways to prevent sun damage include:
- Always wear sun screen with an SPF of at least 15
- Wear a hat in the sun
- Wear long sleeves and long pants
- Avoid tanning beds and salons
Individuals that notice any suspicious growths or skin patches should immediately consult with our office, as early detection is extremely important in treating any forms of skin cancer that may have developed as a result of sun damage.