Sun Damage

Brian Widenhouse, M.D.

Spending too much time in the sun can make you older before your time, or look it at the least. Too much sun exposure is responsible for most of the sun damage associated with aging skin. Sun damage is the measure of how much the sun has changed the look and feel of your skin. Sun damage, also called photo damage, not only makes your skin look older, it can actually cause your skin to age. The damage is collective which means that affects gets worse with repeated, unprotected contact to the sun.

One sign of damage are flat, brown patches on the skin. These “spots” have many names including sun spots, age spots and liver spots. They usually show up on areas that have been exposed to the most sun–the face, hands, legs and arms. Long-term exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays causes the skin to age causing sun spots and other types of sun damage including rough skin and wrinkles.

Taking preventative measures is important when going out of the sun. Wearing protective clothing, eyewear, and using sunscreen will help prevent further damage from the sun. If you see any discolorations in your skin, go to your dermatologist. Sun spots not only make you look older than you are, in some cases, sun spots obscure the presence of skin cancer.

For the damage that has been done, there are many treatments available. Botox® is an popular treatment for combatting wrinkles. A small injection of Botox immobilizes the muscles around the unwanted wrinkles. This causes the face to appear smoother. It also keeps the muscle from contracting and forming deeper wrinkles. Collagen is a protein in the skin that naturally depletes with aging. It can also be injected into the skin to revitalize skin and visibly erase wrinkles and deep lines caused by sun exposure.

While Botox and collagen work under the skin. Abrasive procedures such microdermabrasion and chemical peels work to combat sun damage on the outer layer of skin. Microdermabrasion also uses a spray of fine crystals strips to exfoliate the skin and slough away damaged skin cells. With the damaged skin removed, a new layer of youthful and healthy skin can grow. Chemical peels remove dead skin cells and outer layers of damaged skin. Stripping away the dead outer layer stimulates the growth of a new, healthy layer of skin.

Sun-damaged skin can also be treated by a laser and light treatments. With Light Therapy, the skin is exposed to flashes of light from a xenon lamp. This light technique can be helpful for easing wrinkles, but it is more effective in treating sun spots and discolorations. Laser skin resurfacing is another treatment that uses a wavelength laser beam. The beam vaporizes the outer layer of skin dissolving molecular bonds in the skin leaving it with a smoother appearance.

Brian Widenhouse, M.D. can give you the professional direction to effectively treat sun damage. Even though you may not currently see the effects of the sun, we can work with you to create a proactive and preventive plan to minimize the effects of the sun’s rays. Please call (843) 518-5000 to make an appointment.

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