Photo Damage, Wrinkling, Pigmentation and PreCancers Caused by Sun Exposure
Sun Damaged Skin – You might first notice just a fine wrinkle or two, maybe a brown patch of skin or a profusion of new freckles. It progresses to more wrinkles that are deeper, darker spots, rough skin texture, enlarged pores. Your skin has changed, gotten older-looking and seems to progressively look worse. What’s going on?
The source of the Problem – Ultra-violet (UV) Light Ultra-violet light is the cause of most of the changes that we consider to be aging of the skin. Chronic photo damage, either from direct sun exposure or from a Tanning Booth, results in either a cosmetic change in the skin’s appearance called photo aging, or changes that are of medical and health concerns such as pre-cancerous lesions and skin cancers.
Sunshine, although essential for health and wellbeing, is a hazard for the skin. It feels good to spend time outdoors and this makes it difficult to avoid excessive exposure to the sun. Most of the environmental aging problems come the accumulative effect of multiple, short periods of time outside.
What about tanning booths?
There is no such thing as a ‘safe’ tan…you are just paying for skin cancer when you go to a tanning booth.
Ultraviolet light can damage all layers of your skin: the epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous tissue (fat). To protect itself from damage, your skin increases the production of melanocytes, which produce the dark brown pigment, melanin. The extra melanin makes your skin look darker or “tan”.
Sun damage of the skin can be either acute, as in a sunburn or more commonly, chronic, seen as gradual changes in the skin caused by an accumulation of sun exposure throughout one’s life. You don’t have to be a sun worshipper to experience even severe levels of sun damage.
But here in Southern California millions of people will spend thousands of hours over a lifetime trying to become as bronze as possible. There is usually little understanding of the fact that each hour spent playing or basking in the sun is wreaking havoc with your cell DNA. This DNA alteration sets you up for hyperpigmentation, wrinkling, coarse skin, sagging skin, ugly actinic keratoses and at worst, the possibility of malignant skin cancer – which can be fatal.
We’ve been brainwashed to correlate a tan with health, youth and success. Unfortunately, a mutated skin cancer cell could care less about your age, your financial achievements or your social status and although your friends might say you “look great”, what’s going on beneath that tan is anything but great. Maintaining a respect for all the negative things the sun can do to your skin and your health is important…period.
Early recognition of sun damage will provide a better chance of reversal of the cosmetic appearance as well as reducing the number of skin cancers.
Sun damage builds over time
You may walk away from the beach with a suntan, but that’s not all you’re getting. Excessive sun exposure is responsible for much of the skin damage associated with aging. This damage accumulates slowly over time and starts at an early age. Much of the skin damage is merely cosmetic, but some effects, such as skin cancer, are more serious.
Do you know how the sun damages your skin? See the results of ultraviolet radiation so you can recognize the signs of too much sun.”
Repairing Sun Damage
Dr. Cobos maintains a fully comprehensive array of corrective methods to erase or minimize the effects of years of sun exposure.
Chemical Peels are an effective customized method of removing damaged layers of skin. From light surface peels to deeper peels which soften wrinkles and bring new layers to the surface – glycolic (alpha hydroxy), Blue Peel, and other peels containing tricohloroacetic acid – the application of chemical exfoliants can produce rapid and dramatic changes to sun damaged skin. Dr. Cobos will advise which peels are best and safest for your skin color and condition.
Fraxel’s ability to improve acne scarring and melasma.which is often worsened by sun exposure – is unbeatable. This laser uniquely treats your skin with tiny microscopic beams, making healing super-fast. Fraxel is safely used anywhere on your body – face, neck, chest, arms and hands.
Heavier sundamage including wrinkling and dyschromia can be greatly minimized with single-treatment Fraxel CO2 Re:pair. This premium technology will provide elevated correction for sun damage and laxity. The Fraxel Re:pair does involve downtime, but for almost all patients, a single procedure is all that is required.
Vbeam Perfecta Laser is used to remove broken blood vessels and sun-induced pigmentation. A hot climate, exertion, skin trauma and UV exposure can cause fragile facial veins to break. A vascular laser will quickly shrink and eliminate many of these tiny red or bluish vessels.
SilkPeel is a dual-phase microdermabrasion system that both exfoliates the surface skin and infuses treatment solutionsfor dehydration, pigmentation or acne.SilkPeel may be sufficient to smooth and brighten your skin if you have taken more protective measures with your skin
Skin Cancer screening is vital to detect precancerous actinic keratoses and potential squamous or basal cell carcinoma or melanoma. Dr. Cobos can quickly determine is any unusual or suspicious skin lesions should be tested further.
Moisturize and Protect Everywhere
Prevention beats trying to un-do sun damage. An effective sunscreen or sun block with at least SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 or above is paramount – not just for you but for your kids, too. A hat, sun-protective clothing and safe sun habits will keep all of you healthier and better looking, too.
The Right kind of Sun Protection
- SPF 30 or Above
- Every Day – Every Day – Every Day
- Multiple Applications – Especially when swimming
- Skip Sun Exposure between 10-2 when you can .
- Wear a Hat – It will always look better than a skin cancer scar
- Surgical or Injury scars
- On the Beach – Use an Umbrella
It’s not just your face that can show your age. Make sure you pay attention to the top of your ears, your neck, shoulders and hands. These areas are exposed to the sun, drying air and pollution so they need to be moisturized, exfoliated and protected from the sun’s UV rays just like your face
Smoking and Your Skin
Not a good combination! Smoking increases wrinkles, especially around the mouth, because it breaks down the elastic fibers of the skin. Smoking also accelerates the graying of hair. See your primary doctor if you need help quitting.
Don’t Forget your Hands!
We often spend a lot of time (and money) trying to make our faces look their best. But your hands are also important. Using an exfoliant on them from time to time can minimize the appearance of small dry lines that make hands look their age.
Broken Blood Vessels
Also known as telangiectasias, these are small diameter, linear blood vessels that occur on the surface of the skin. As we age, these are common on the face and cheeks, particularly on the sides of the nose. These small broken vessels are quite common in those who suffer from Rosacea. Pulsed-dye lasers are often used to treat this but take note that nasal vessels are the hardest to treatment and may require multiple treatments.
Menopause is a time of change – and that includes changes to your skin.
The drop in estrogen levels can lead to drier skin, increased wrinkles, loss of elasticity and reduced collagen production (causing the skin to be “looser”). If you’re going through menopause, you may need to change your skin care routine. Talk to Dr. Cobos for advice.
Give your skin a workout!
Exercise isn’t just good for your heart, it’s good for your skin, too. By promoting capillary functioning and collagen production, exercise can actually decrease the signs of premature aging.