Can sun-damaged skin be repaired? Well, just as with any other problem, prevention is better than cure. But, yes, there are ways to reverse sun damage caused to your skin, and today we are going to tell you what you can actually do.
What Does Sun Damage To My Skin Have To Do With The Ozone?
NASA scientists conducted a study based on 30 years of satellite data and found that the UV radiation (ultraviolet rays) reaching the surface of the earth had increased markedly during those decades. Interestingly, there was little to no change in the tropical regions with most of the change taking place in the mid to high latitudes.
As part of this study, NASA scientist Jay Herman developed a mathematical technique to calculate and report how ultraviolet rays and changing ozone levels affected life on the planet. He reported that a 7% increase in ultraviolet rays coming through the ozone brought with it a 4.4 % increase in sun damage to the skin, irreversible damage to DNA went up 4.8%, and an increase of 5% of vitamin D production.
The ozone, which is like a naturally built-in sunscreen filter protecting the earth and the people on it from harmful UV rays, had become damaged over the years from harmful chemicals emitted into the air from several man-made sources. In 1970 the EPA issued a series of regulations to phase out the production and use of chemicals and agents that were found to be damaging to the ozone that would take place progressively through the coming years. Since then some of the ozone damage has been reversed and with continued measures, it is expected to continue improving.
Why Do I Need To Worry About UV Rays?
Most of us have the mindset to slather ourselves with sunscreen during a beach trip or on vacation but in reality, we are being exposed to harmful UV rays more often than we think. Think about your daily commute to school or work or taking the dog out for a quick walk. Repeated sun exposure without adequate protection adds up to sun damage over the years and can result in fine lines, wrinkles, freckles, uneven pigmentation, and dark spots, sagging skin, and also dangerous skin cancer.
What Can Be Done To Repair Sun Damaged Skin?
The bad news is that not all sun damage is reversible such as DNA damage. The good news is that there are many treatments available that can help and it is never too late to start repairing sun damage.
First Step – Stop The Damage!
In addition to the aging properties of sun exposure, it can also lead to skin cancer. It is much easier to prevent sun damage than to reverse it. Using a broad-spectrum SPF every day, avoiding direct sunlight, wearing a hat, wearing protective clothing, avoiding tanning beds, choosing hours with the least amount of UV rays to complete tasks that require being outside will help avoid unnecessary exposure.
Next – What You Can Start Doing Now
Many women ask “Is there anything I can do to naturally reverse sun damage?” The answer is yes, taking care of your skin should be a daily ritual because, unless you live in a cave, you are being exposed to the UV rays of the sun just as often. These are simple things that you can do at home to get you started.
Besides applying sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every day you should eat a diet rich in antioxidant foods, drink at least 64 oz of water a day, make sure to get at least 8 hours of sleep, steam clean your face, use a high-quality moisturizer, and exfoliate your skin at least two times a week with a good quality product. ORI~OR™ Bamboo Exfoliating Scrub is an excellent product and is gentle for even sensitive skin.
What Options Are Available To Reverse Sun Damage?
Treatments that can help reverse sun damage are varied and range from topical creams to chemical peels and would be determined by the extent of the damage. These treatments can fade any uneven pigment, reduce pore size, smooth or remove roughened or wrinkled skin, and even restart collagen production. Some treatments may require a prescription from your dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon, some you can do at home, and others will require the help of a knowledgeable and skilled professional.
- Retinoids are made from Vitamin A and promote the sloughing off of dead skin cells allowing cells to renew themselves as well as stimulate new production of collagen. Retinoids can also lighten pigmentation spots and minimize the visible size of pores.
- Antioxidants help slow down the degeneration of the skin by reducing UV damage and collagen breakdown caused by rouge chemicals called free radicals. Free radicals are associated with altering DNA resulting in visible signs of aging.
- Vitamin C is a superhero antioxidant that not only protects skin cells from UV exposure and the effects of free radicals but also inhibits the production of melanin in the skin. Melanin is the substance that causes age spots and areas of hyperpigmentation. Vitamin C 20% Serum by ORI~OR™ stimulates collagen synthesis, defends the skin against sun damage, and helps to smooth and enhance skin tone providing a youthful healthy glow.
- Exfoliants – There is a wide range of over-the-counter treatments that can help reverse the damage done by the sun. Sun damage slows down the cell’s ability to replace themselves but exfoliants can help get rid of these dead cells and prompt regeneration more quickly. Exfoliants also help brighten dull dry skin, reduce blemishes, and open clogged pores.
- Skin lightening agents – Hydroquinone is an ingredient found in serums that are used to lighten superficial blemishes, age, sunspots, and even out pigmentation issues. These lightening serums if used together under the instruction of a dermatologist can offer significant results.
5 Professional Cosmetic Procedures for Sun-Damaged Skin
1. Chemical peels work by removing the top layer of the epidermis so that clear new skin will surface. Normally removing this top layer also removes some imperfections such as fine lines, precancerous lesions, and uneven pigmentation spots.
Video: Do Chemical Peels Help to Reverse Sun Damage?
Peels are non-surgical and depending on the aesthetic goal desired can be superficial, medium, or deep-reaching in nature. There are a variety of types of chemical peels available to address several issues and can be performed as a one-time treatment or in a series over a period of time. The downtime for a light peel is minimal but with deeper peels, the patient may experience swelling, redness and require a few weeks for these to dissipate. Extra attention must be taken to avoid sun exposure after a chemical peel.
2. Laser treatments such as CoolPeel™ help reduce the appearance of sun damage as well as other skin issues including visible signs of aging, stretch marks, acne scars, uneven pigmentation, and more. Treatments normally take less than 30 minutes and have different degrees of downtime that depend on the specific laser type. With the CoolPeel™ procedure, for many, there is no downtime or a very short period when the skin may appear red.
3. Light-based therapy also called phototherapy or photo rejuvenation helps shrink blood vessels, improves the texture of the skin, repairs sun damage, removes redness, and the signs of broken veins and blotchiness. IPL® Photofacial helps compress the collagen and blood vessels in the skin and improves the texture and appearance in less than 30 minutes with no downtime.
4. Microdermabrasion can repair some of the damage caused by the sun’s rays and even out skin tone and texture. This non-chemical and non-invasive skin treatment removes the top layer of dead skin cells promoting the production of new ones that contain more collagen and elastin. The Diamond Glow facial uses a handheld tool complete with diamond grit that not only buffs off the dead skin but vacuums out clogged pores at the same time. There is no downtime and results in brighter, more youthful skin.
5. Microneedling is an excellent treatment for reversing hyperpigmentation and sun damage by jumpstarting the cells to produce collagen and restore healthy skin. Microneedling procedures can be custom-tailored to suit the needs of each patient and can penetrate just below the skin’s surface or deeper. AQUAGOLD® FINE TOUCH is a cosmetic treatment that uses tiny gold-plated microneedles that create minuscule micro-injuries to the surface of the skin to prompt the collagen production process. Microneedling also allows for better absorption of serums and other skin-enhancing products.
If you are looking for treatments to reverse sun damage, visible signs of aging or other skin imperfections call us today to set up a consultation. Dr. Angelena Postoev can create a treatment plan tailored for your unique needs and treatment goals.
Angelina Postoev, MD, FACS, a triple-board certified cosmetic surgeon, and Christopher Ibikunle, MD, FACS, offer a variety of skin treatments to patients in Lawrenceville, Suwanee, Johns Creek, Buckhead, and the surrounding areas of Atlanta, Georgia.
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