Several months ago, before summer even began, we did a blog on the harmful effects of the sun. Now, as summer is about to end, the sun can still inflict skin damage even though the days may not be as hot. Here in the Desert Southwest, we are exposed to the intensity of the blazing sun more than most other cities. Every time we step outside, our skin is being assaulted by the sun’s ultraviolet rays, so it is a good idea to reiterate the importance of being aware of time spent in the sun and the damage it can do.
In many places, the sun may not feel as hot as it does in the desert, but it’s just as harmful. From Santa Monica on the Pacific to Chicago’s lakefront to the Outer Banks on the Atlantic, beaches across America are packed with people of all ages throughout September, and the sun’s rays are just as harmful as they were in July. While the sun’s only visible effect may be a nice tan, the invisible effects won’t appear for many years.
Sun damage is cumulative, compounding over time. It may take decades for the sun damage occurring today to reveal itself in the form of prematurely aging skin—or worse.
Damage to your skin can include wrinkles, freckles, yellow discoloration of the skin, telangiectasias—also known as spider veins—loss of the skin’s elasticity, and precancerous and cancerous skin lesions.
Young children and teens who spend their summers outdoors, frequently getting sunburned, are surely not thinking about what problems could arise 40 years on; however, according to the Cleveland Clinic, “Episodes of severe, blistering sunburns, usually before age 18, can cause melanoma later in life.”
What can be done to reverse the effects of sun damaged skin? Cosmetic surgery can restore a youthful look, turning back the clock to undo the damage the sun has caused.
According to Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publishing, some of the most popular, non-surgical procedures for sun-damaged skin are:
- Botulinum toxin (Botox®, Dysport®) – These remedies can temporarily reduce wrinkles by relaxing the facial muscles that cause crow’s feet, frown lines, and—in the forehead area—worry lines.
- Chemical peels (Phenol Peel, Alpha Hydroxy Peel, VI Peel®, Obagi Blue Peel®) – Mild chemicals are applied to the skin, dissolving skin cells on the damaged epidermis, revealing a new layer of smoother-looking skin.
- Laser therapy (Fraxel Repair) – Lasers can target specific types of cells in distinct skin layers, removing lines, wrinkles, pigmented birthmarks, and spider veins. Laser therapy can also improve skin tone and tightness.
- Cosmetic fillers (Juvederm Voluma®, Juvederm Vollure®, and Radiesse®) – Fillers plump the skin, reducing lines and wrinkles. Injection of fillers requires little time and the results may last nine months or longer.
- Microneedling (Microneedling, RF Microneedling) – A skin resurfacing technology that stimulates collagen production and rejuvenates the skin. RF Microneedling combines traditional microneedling techniques with radio frequency heat energy to boost collagen and tighten the skin.
In addition, Dr. Lo offers even more new and exciting non-surgical procedures including:
- LaseMD is dramatically different from traditional resurfacing lasers. It works to rebuild healthy skin with gentle, but very effective, heating to underlying skin tissues, without affecting the surface skin. No downtime.
- Plasma Machine, better than a laser, is a new device to resurface your skin anywhere on your face or body!
- Keralase is a remarkable treatment that uses hair growth factors to stimulate your hair. It is a series of pain-free treatments with no downtime and no injections. Get your hair growing again!
Of course, the most dangerous result of excess sun is skin cancer. The three most common types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. The leading treatment for all three is Mohs surgery, which is 99% effective in treating skin cancer with minimal risk of recurrence.
Mohs surgery removes the skin lesion, along with surrounding tissue. The tissue is removed one layer at a time, each layer microscopically examined until the tissue is cancer-free. Depending on the size of the tumor, the surgery can take a few hours. Aftercare normally involves only minimal wound care until healed.
Because the sun damages skin over the course of one’s entire life, and the results aren’t evident until middle age, the best prevention is to use sunscreen. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) doesn’t think that SPF 15 is effective enough, and they recommend a broad-spectrum (which protects against UVA and UVB rays), water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
Sunscreen is only necessary when outdoors, right? Nope … you may think you’re safe indoors, but according to the AAD, UVA rays, which can prematurely age skin, and cause wrinkles, age spots, and skin cancer, can pass through glass. So, even not outdoors—if you’re spending time by a window or spend a lot of time in your car—you’ll want to apply broad-spectrum sunscreen.
If you have sun-damaged skin, Dr. Mikel Lo and the staff of About Faces Cosmetic Surgery offer all of the procedures that are mentioned in this blog. If the sun has damaged your skin, making you look older than you’d like, schedule a consultation with Dr. Mikel Lo and his talented, professional staff—including 2 trained nurse injectors—at About Faces Cosmetic Surgery. Contact us today!