Unfortunately, sun damage is a year round concern, especially in the sunny states. Harmful, cancer-causing ultraviolet (UV) rays also cause cosmetic damage, like accelerated aging, pigmentation problems, and dry, dull skin. Summer is, naturally, the time of year you should be most careful about sun protection, but nobody’s perfect. If you’ve noticed signs of sun damage, don’t panic. There are many treatments available for solving summer sun damage.
The Problems of Sun Damage
Over time, the sun can have some pretty devastating effects on the skin, causing problems like:
• “Sun spots” or “age spots” (brown pigmentation)
• Sagging skin
• Skin cancer
• Overall poor skin quality
In addition to exposing the skin to UV radiation, and prompting pigmentation changes, the sun’s rays can break down elastin in the skin, causing sagging, wrinkles, and other signs of aging.
Thanks to advances in minimally-invasive treatments, there are now a number of procedures available for treating the problems of sun damage. These treatments range in intensity, cost, and results, and for some patients, a combination of treatments may be best. Here are some popular solutions for improving the results of sun exposure.
EMatrix™ is a sublative skin rejuvenation procedure that directs radiofrequency energy deep into the skin in matrix form. This helps skin to heal, regenerate, and produce collagen, improving fine lines, wrinkles, discoloration, and skin texture. Typically, 3-4 treatments are performed, about 4-6 weeks apart for best results. These treatments last only 20-30 minutes, and involve only minor discomfort.
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)
IPL treatments involve focused, strong pulses of light directed at specific areas of the skin, which break up unwanted pigment, broken blood vessels, and spider veins in the skin. These treatments are often performed using topical anesthetic to make the process more comfortable, and treatments typically last about 30-60 minutes. Several treatments are usually necessary for good results. Patients can return to normal activities the same day, but may experience some redness and swelling.
A variable treatment, chemical peels can be light skin refreshers or a deeper sun damage treatment. A mixture of chemicals is applied to the face for a specific amount of time, after which the solution is neutralized. In the days following treatment, the old layer of skin will peel off, revealing refreshed, new skin underneath. Depending upon the intensity of the treatment, some downtime may be necessary.
A more intensive option for skin renewal, laser resurfacing can help “turn back the clock” and treat many aspects of sun damage. CO2 laser resurfacing is done under local or general anesthesia and involves the use of the laser’s heat and light to destroy damaged skin cells and encourage new growth. Only one treatment is required, and recovery takes about a week on average.
Because the sun can be a major factor in accelerated aging, other facial rejuvenation treatments may also be appropriate for those struggling with sun damage. Here are some treatments can help with problems like wrinkles, sagging skin, and overall poor skin tone:
- Ultherapy® (sagging skin)
- Botox® & Fillers (wrinkles)
- Laser Genesis® (tone, texture & fine lines)
- Sublime™ (skin tightening & fine lines)
- Microdermabrasion (skin tone & texture, lines & wrinkles)
Overwhelmed by the choices? Only a qualified dermatologist or plastic surgeon can help you determine which treatments are likely to get you the results you are looking for.
Future Preventative Measures
Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to remove all traces of sun damage, but using one or a combination of the procedures above can significantly improve your skin’s condition. No matter which treatment you decide on, you should take care to protect your skin from future damage. UV rays are extremely harmful, and can undo all the results of your treatment and skincare. Here are some tips for preventing further damage:
- Use sunscreen even when it is not hot and sunny
- Wear protective clothing (such as hats and long sleeves/pants) when possible
- Avoid being outside for extended periods of time when the sun is strong
- Seek shade
- Protect yourself when you are near windows, including in the car. UV rays can filter through glass
- Be especially careful when working out or swimming. Sunscreen should be waterproof and reapplied as necessary
Remember, no skin type is immune to the dangers of UV rays. While people with darker skin are usually at a lower risk for sunburn and other problems, this does not mean that leaving the skin unprotected is safe. It is always better to be careful when it comes to sun protection.
The Sunshine State can be a great place to live, but it can also spell trouble for your skin. If you’re considering cosmetic treatments for sun damage, then you’ll want to choose a provider who has the skill and knowledge to assess your needs, make recommendations, and help you design a treatment plan tailored to your skin type, goals, and budget.
Dr. Diane Walder is an acclaimed cosmetic dermatologist, and is considered an authority on many aspects of skincare. If you’re looking for an ally in your skin rejuvenation efforts, Dr. Walder, or her colleague Dr. Chimento, may be a great option for you. To set up an appointment with any of them, call 305-866-2177 today.