Do you remember applying baby oil to your skin to get an even tan? The sun-kissed look was definitely in. Now we know how damaging the sun is to our skin. But does this mean that we should stay inside all summer? And if we have sun damage, is there anything we can do about it now?
Our skin has a long memory. The sun damage to our skin is cumulative, meaning that it takes years, even decades, for the effects of sun damage to materialize. What this can look like is wrinkles, brown spots, decreased elasticity skin, sagging skin, pre-cancerous cells, and even skin cancer. The good news is that we can take steps now to restrict future sun damage and to repair what has already been done.
The first line of defense is sunscreen. It should be applied every day, even if it is completely cloudy. Look for sunscreens that are non-comedogenic. This means that the sunscreen will not clog pores and trigger breakouts. Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before going outside so that the active ingredients can bind to the skin to protect it. You should apply an ounce of sunscreen over your whole body, and a teaspoon for your face, ears, and neck. Reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours, and more frequently if you are swimming or sweating. Also, do not forget to apply sunscreen to backs of your hands! Increasingly, people are seeking treatment for brown spots and thin skin on their hands because of sun damage.
Other important precautions to take include wearing a hat to protect your scalp and face, wear sunglasses with UV protection to protect your eyes (less squinting equals less crow’s feet wrinkles), cover up with UV protective clothing, and minimize your sun exposure between 10 am and 4 pm when UV rays (especially the most skin cancer-causing, UVB rays) are the strongest.
Besides applying sunscreen, skin care products that contain antioxidants and vitamin A should be used religiously year round. Aging skin is a result of sun-induced vitamin A deficiency. Replenishing the skin’s vitamin A daily can combat the effects of current and past sun damage. Consult with your facial plastic surgeon about which vitamin A to use as it is available in different forms and certain ones can increase photo-sensitivity.
If you are dealing with the effects of sun damage, do not despair! There are many treatments available that can help. For wrinkles, Botox and Dysport can smooth those away. Deeper creases can be treated with dermal fillers like Juvederm and Restylane. Brown and red spots on the skin can be treated with Selective Waveband Technology, the latest technology that is more effective than Intense Pulsed Light (IPL). Laser treatments can help stimulate collagen, thus improving skin texture. Surgical procedures, such as facelifts, brow lifts, and eyelid lifts can turn back the clock as well, and are most effective when performed in conjunction with some of the treatments listed above.
Summertime fun does not need to stop because of sun damage! Take these necessary precautions, and work with your facial plastic surgeon to correct any damage. Here’s to a wonderful Summer 2016!