Are you concerned about wrinkles and brown spots? Do you understand what causes them and what you can do to reduce them? Overexposure to the sun’s dangerous ultraviolet (UV) light causes your skin to age and can eventually lead to skin cancer. Most people know to wear sunscreen when they’re expecting to be outdoors for long periods of time or outside during the summer, but protecting your skin doesn’t end with the summer months. Year-round sun protection needs to be practiced to prevent further sun damage and may even reverse some of the damage that has already been done. But what about the damage that lies deeper?

First Step

The first step an individual with sun damage should take is schedule an appointment with a dermatologist for a skin screening. This appointment will rule out any suspicious spots or lesions. After a dermatologist examines your skin, he or she will discuss and suggest some protective habits for you to implement into your daily skin regimen. Broad-spectrum sun screen should be the first commitment which needs to be applied on a daily basis. EltaMD sunscreens are highly recommended by our office. They help prevent sunburn and decrease the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging caused by the sun. EltaMD sunscreens are formulated with transparent zinc oxide and are non-comedogenic, sensitivity-free, fragrance-free and paraben-free. If you don’t wear sunscreen on a daily basis, is the first important step to healthy skin.

Treatment Options

There are many treatments to choose from, but where should you start? Retin-A is a great start. Retin-A is a prescription medication which was originally developed to treat acne. It also can also slow down or even reverse the skin damage caused by sunlight exposure. Retin-A increases cell renewal and collagen formation. The epidermis (the top layer of the skin) becomes thicker and fuller in appearance. Use of a Clarisonic brush is good for smoothing and softening the skin. It allows Retin-A and other products to absorb into the skin better.

Chemical peels or laser treatments can both deliver impressive results when treating sun damage, especially if you’ve been following a good SPF and skin care regime. Peels can be less expensive than laser procedures. Glycolic peels are a reasonable start if you don’t want to spend a lot of money. Peeling is very mild, and there is minimal to no downtime. Other peels such as the ZO 3-Step Peel are recommended as a series. This is a potent stimulating peels which has longer lasting benefits beyond the temporary superficial improvements seen with ordinary peels. This peel is designed for sun damage, fine lines, rough texture as well as acne. Patients experience softer, smoother skin after one peel, but it is recommended as a series of 3 (1 per month for 3 months).

Laser treatments such as Intense Pulse Light (IPL), also known as photo rejuvenation or photo facials are used to treat sun damage. This laser uses intense pulsed light to treat skin with sun damage or excessive redness. IPL is safe and effective in improving signs of aging on the face, neck, chest and hands. The light energy during treatment is absorbed by small blood vessels or sun spots. When the vessels absorb this energy, they heat up and are broken down. The sun spots will darken after IPL treatment and will eventually flake off.

Depending on the amount of damage you have, laser treatments such as laser resurfacing may offer stronger results. Laser resurfacing is the optimal approach to dealing with aging, wrinkles and sun damage. Erbium laser resurfacing offers results for rejuvenating the deeper layers. This is a technique that pokes microscopic holes in the skin. It is used to reverse wrinkles and fine lines. It offers impressive results with a series of treatments and minimal downtime.

If your skin has suffered from years of neglect, sunscreen can still help prevent further ageing by protecting the cells while they recover. Proper prevention and a treatment plan to repair signs of sun damage can restore your youthful glow. Speak with a qualified dermatologist at Dermatology & Plastic Surgery of Arizona, and find out if you’re a candidate for any of these cosmetic procedures.