In previous articles, we discussed how unguarded sun exposure can lead to severe skin damage and skin cancer. It is important to begin skin care and skin protection at an early age. If you are like the rest of us and did not practice this sun safety as a youngster, you are now looking for ways to reverse the effects of sun damage and time. Modern skin care means more than just soap and water. New developments have allowed us to move beyond these basics and to achieve more radiant result.
Now for a few facts about the skin ….so that the treatment options make sense. Skin is made up of two main layers the epidermis and the dermis. The epidermis is the top layer of skin which serves to protect you from the elements. It is most vulnerable to sun damage and other environmental assaults. Normally this top layer of skin sheds off so that you have a new layer of skin every 24 days. As we get older and especially if a person has sun damage, this layer gets thicker and does not shed at the normal rate. That leads to thickened rough skin with large pores – “pine bark skin”. This sun-damaged skin is also more likely to develop irregularities called actinic keratosis and if untreated 10 % develop into skin cancers. The deeper layer of skin is called the dermis. It contains the hair follicles, color cells, collagen and elastin fibers. This is the layer of the skin that is broken and damaged in a stretch mark. The collagen in the dermis is also affected by time and sun damage and become less coiled resulting in looser, less elastic skin. The same sun damage can result in irregular pigmentation, “sun spots” and reddening of the skin with the development of spider veins.
It is important to start with a professional skin analysis to determine your skin’s needs and sensitivities. What may work well for your neighbor, may make your skin look worse. A customized skin care program is an important start to optimizing your skin’s appearance. Just as antioxidents in your foods help play a key role in your health, topical antioxidants that you apply directly to your skin also play a key role in promoting skin health. Antioxidants such as vitamin C can help prevent photoaging and the onset of more serious skin conditions by reducing the amount of free radicals in your skin. Topical serum antioxidants have shown to provide up to 8 times the skin’s natural protection from UV damage. Serums are a good way to deliver the concentrated antioxidants your skin needs for wrinkle treatment and prevention. Vitamin C increases collagen production to improve and treat wrinkles. Antioxidants protect your skin from the sun in ways that sunscreens can’t. When combined usage of antioxidants and a broad spectrum UVA and UVB sunblock, almost complete photoprotection is provided. This means preventing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and promoting overall good skin health. Once you have started your customized skin care program, you may decide to jumpstart your progress. Therapeutic facials and chemical peels are a way to accelerate and optimize your results. These peels have more power than an over-the- counter product and need to be done by a trained professional. Since the down time is limited, many people can enjoy the benefits of these types of chemical peels without any interruption of their busy schedule.
Chemical peels (Glycolic and Salicylic Acid Peels) can also lighten and improve the appearance of sun damaged skin. Combined Glycolic and lactic acid exfoliates the skin while reducing irritation and dryness. This process accelerates the cell renewal process, stimulating collagen and improving elastin fibers in the dermis at the same time reducing the appearance of fine line and wrinkles. Salicylic acid is especially beneficial for sensitive skin and helps improves the appearance of problematic skin leaving the skin glowing. Peels can also decongest pores by dissolving sebum (oil) and other debris in the dermis and epidermis.
Another proven, successful treatment for such sun damaged skin is a Photofacial, which uses pulsed light technology to remove these imperfections. This treatment takes little time with limited down time. The treated sunspots will darken slightly and fade away after about 10-14 days. The “spider veins” usually located on the sides of the nose and other areas of the face can also be treated at the same time.
Often these procedures are done in combination accomplishing more together to improve the appearance of your skin than either by itself.
In summary, creating and maintaining radiant appearing healthy skin is a team approach which involves you and your skin care physicians. Modern skin care includes many non invasive and minimally invasive procedures which were not available to our mothers and grandmothers. Importantly do not put off your program of skin care to a later date, the time to have more radiant skin is now…especially for the holidays!