Treatments for Sun Damaged Skin
Most of us have sun damage from our childhood and teen years. Maybe as an adult you have been diligent about protecting yourself from the sun by using sunscreen-containing products on your face and lips, seeking shade when possible, and even purchasing a few sun protective hats, but the sun damage from our youth remains. The good news is that once you begin to focus on protecting your skin, you can stop additional damage. In order to treat the lines, dark spots, and uneven skin tone that have already occurred, there are treatments that can be administered by your physician.
Photoaging is the term for premature wrinkling and skin damage that comes from excessive exposure to the sun. Unlike the regular aging process, photoaging leads to skin that can be dry, coarse, discolored, leathery, and more deeply wrinkled. The following treatment options can help to reverse the signs of sun damage.
- Dermabrasion can minimize irregularities on the skin surface as well as scars. During this procedure a machine is used to remove one of more layers of the skin, which appears smoother and even as it heals. Recovery time can be up to 14 days depending on the severity of the treatment. A gentler version known as microdermabrasion generally requires multiple treatments and only removes the top layers of the skin.
- Chemical peels involve removal of the top layers of skin through careful application of an acid that is used to wound or exfoliate the skin. Once specific areas of skin are damaged, new skin grows back in its place, and this new skin is significantly improved in texture and appearance. The concentration of acid, number of applications, and length of time it remains on the skin will be determined by your physician.
- Laser resurfacing is a technique that uses concentrated pulsating beams of light to remove layer by layer of the skin with precision. Erbium laser resurfacing removes superficial and moderately deep wrinkles, while CO2 lasers are used for deeper wrinkles. As erbium lasers cause less burning of the surrounding tissue, they are associated with a shorter recovery period and cause less swelling and bruising than CO2 lasers. Nonablative lasers may be considered as an alternative to traditional resurfacing as they create microscopic wounds and don’t affect surrounding tissue. With this method, multiple treatments are needed to see improvements.
- Fillers can be injected below the skin for the treatment of facial lines as they can hydrate skin and plump up its volume. The most popular types, such as Juvederm and Restylane, are made of hyaluronic acid, which is a natural substance found throughout the body. Redness, swelling, and bruising can occur after injection, but side effects are rare, and the results can last from 4 months to a year.
- Botox is aimed at temporarily paralyzing muscles whose movement leads to wrinkles. While it does not plump the skin like fillers, it helps to smooth the skin by preventing contractions that lead to more pronounced lines over time. For sun damaged skin which has a tendency to show more deeper lines, your physician may recommend Botox as one of the ways to treat your specific skin concerns either on its own or as part of an overall treatment plan for addressing sun damage.