In our practice, we see patients who are seeking solutions to protect and repair the skin after sun damage has occurred. What are these signs of damage, how can we prevent them and how can we repair the skin after damage? Here are some commonly asked questions and solutions regarding skin safety, beauty and sun protection:
What are signs of sun damage and how do they affect facial appearance?
Just as we can see signs of good health in the face, we can identify signs of sun damage. Signs of sun damage are also found on the body, particularly on the chest area, arms and hands. Signs of aging in the skin, including fine lines, wrinkles, dullness, sallowness, sagging, brown spots and discoloration are often caused by sun-damage. Radiation energy emitted from the sun is delivered by harmful ultraviolet (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. UVA rays can catalyze signs of premature aging and may penetrate into the dermis, the deepest level of the skin. UVB rays may cause painful sunburns of varying degrees and even damage skin cell RNA molecules. The pain associated with a sunburn is an inflammatory reaction and the bodies attempt to heal cellular skin damage. When a patient gets a sunburn, darkened freckles or darkened sun spots after spending time in the sun they have received additional damage to the skin. As we age, this sun damage accumulates and in combination with loss of elasticity and volume, and the long term effects of such exposure can alter the aesthetic of the face and body.
How does my lifestyle affect my appearance and the associated signs of aging?
By reducing prolonged periods of time spent in the sun, using protective skincare products and eliminating the use of tanning beds, patients can decrease the risk of harmful UVA/UVB damage to the skin. Smoking and excessive drinking are also risk factors, causing damage to the cellular turnover process and dehydration. Dehydration often results in a loss of volume and elasticity, dullness and dark circles under the eyes. Sun damage and dehydration are two correlative risk factors of signs of premature aging in the skin. Drinking plenty of water, eating well-balanced meals and using a topical SPF daily can help patients prevent further sun damage and keep the skin looking healthy, balanced and youthful. Wearing protective loose fitting clothing and brimmed hats with a protective block can also help protect the skin. For patients who have exhausted these options and still feel sun sensitivity, we typically recommend a skincare consultation.
What causes sun spots and freckles?
While freckles, medically known as "ephelids," are appreciated by many of our patients as unique signs of beauty, they are a clinical indication of sun damage and caused by increased melanin protection in the bodies attempt to protect the skin from lightwave radiation. Freckles are often genetic and/or accumulated sun damage to the skin and each time freckles darken after sun exposure, new damage has occurred. Patients with fair skin tones and freckles can be particularly vulnerable to sun damage . In our practice, we encourage these patients take special precautions in the sun and they can often benefit from skincare treatments and topical products. Sun spots, medically known as "solar lentigines," are darkened patches of discolored skin caused by direct exposure to the sun that the skin is unable to handle, they typically increase and darken with further direct sun exposure. They are caused by an excess production of melanin after direct sun exposure, in one or several localized spots; rather than diffusely, in the case of freckles.
What sun protecting factor product is right for me?
Different types of sun protecting factors and products can help patients address individual concerns. In our practice, many of our patients use a SPF protector every day of the year, as UV sun exposure is present during the daytime even in colder months. Patients with sensitive skin types or conditions often benefit from physical sunscreens that contain Zinc and Titanium Dioxide. In our experience, the composition and quality are equally as important as the numerical protective factor. Physical sunblocks are also found in gentle mineral based makeup, making sun protection and enhanced skin appearance possible even for sensitive patients. Some patients may prefer chemical blocks as they may require less frequent application, making them ideal for patients without sensitivities participating in swimming or prolonged outdoor activities. In our practice we offer different sun protective products for varying skin types, sensitivities and concerns.
Can I repair my sun-damaged skin?
We do see some patients who are predisposed to burns and receive sun damage despite precautionary measures. There are easy cosmetic procedures, advanced laser treatments and topical skincare products designed to repair the signs of sun damage, loss of elasticity, loss of volume, freckles, brown spots, dullness and hyper-pigmentation and prevent their recurrence. Janice Pastorek, our renowned medical skincare expert, is well-versed in sun protective skincare products and performing advanced skincare treatments to address concerns about damaged or aging skin. In our practice, we use several state-of-the-art laser treatments. The Whisper™ gentle fractional resurfacing device is an excellent for the treatment of sun spots, freckles, evening skin tone, redness, pore size and signs of aging. This treatment leaves the skin looking fully refreshed and rejuvenated. The Pheonix™ laser treatment is a Co2 fractional laser designed specifically for signs of aging in the hands, including freckles, sun spots, and pigmentation issues. Our leading mini-fraxel laser, Clear and Brilliant™, moves gently across the skin and delivers smoother and more youthful results while reducing the appearance of brown spots, lesions, sun-damage, unevenness in skin tone or texture and stimulates collagen production. The Novalis Clareon™ intense pulse light treatment employs krypton light that is cool and comfortable, minimizing the appearance of dark or discolored patches, redness and sun damage. It is important to follow protocols after any laser treatment, particularly avoiding direct sunlight and drinking plenty of water to assist in the lymphatic drainage process. Ultimately, Janice can assess the best treatment options for every patients unique skin type, sensitivity and concerns.
If you would like to learn about protecting your skin in the sun or request a skincare consultation, please contact our practice today. Sun protection is beautiful at any age and during any season of the year.