Your skin is your body’s largest organ, so treat it right! Photoaging (skin damage such as wrinkles, brown spots, and lax skin caused by sun exposure) can be prevented — and minimized — with proper sun protection (such as sunscreen and protective clothing) and various anti-aging treatments. We’ve got lots of tips to keep your skin looking its best, and staying its healthiest, here.
There are many treatments available to combat the aging effects of the sun, from creams to peels to lasers. Plus, reducing the signs of sun damage can reduce your risk of developing skin cancer.
The sun and the years take their toll on your skin. Photoaging is often the first sign that your skin has been damaged, but such repeated exposure can also lead to skin cancer. Luckily, many of the treatments for photoaging not only restore skin's youthful appearance, they also reduce your risk for developing skin cancers and precancers.
Retinoids have been a breakthrough discovery for the treatment of photoaged skin. Synthetic derivatives of Vitamin A, they can improve discoloration of the skin, degeneration of elastic tissue, and fine wrinkling by enhancing naturally occurring production of collagen and elastic fibers. In addition to giving skin back its youthful appearance, retinoids can inhibit tumor growth, decrease inflammation, and enhance the immune system. Continuing use of retinoids can reduce the number and size of actinic keratoses. Currently, two retinoids are available in the US for treatment of photoaging: tretinoin (2) and tazarotene. Note that retinoids can irritate the skin and cause dryness and photosensitivity - an extreme sensitivity to the sun. They are available by prescription only.
Lasers are used to vaporize the skin's sun-damaged top layer, leaving a softer, smoother skin surface with less pronounced wrinkles. With their pinpoint accuracy, lasers are ideal for sensitive skin areas such as around the eyes. The treatment can result in tenderness, scarring, redness and swelling that can last for several weeks while the new skin grows. Darker-skinned individuals can experience permanent loss of pigmentation.
Chemical peels are often used to rejuvenate the skin, reduce wrinkles, and treat actinic keratoses. A doctor removes layers of skin with a mild acid solution. Depending on the damage, a light, medium, or deep peel is used. After the skin heals, a smoother, younger-looking outer layer forms. Light peels usually result in only a slight redness and photosensitivity, but deeper peels can result in significant swelling, redness, and photosensitivity that lasts for several weeks.
Dermabrasion uses a small high-speed, rotating metal brush or file to abrade the upper layers of the skin and smooth out surface irregularities. It is used, often with long-lasting results, for treatment of substantial wrinkling and leathering from the sun, pigmentation problems, and acne scars. Either local or general anesthetic is used during the procedure. Redness, swelling and pain are typical after treatment. Healing can take from 7 to 14 days.