Aging and Sun Damaged Skin

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The natural aging process gradually produces lines, wrinkles, age spots, broken capillaries, dull texture and color, and loss of skin tone with sagging.  All skin types are susceptible to this natural aging process, and the effects increase with advancing age.

Exposure to the sun and ultraviolet radiation, however, is the number one cause of premature aging of the skin.  In fact, there is a tremendous difference between natural, or chronological aging, and premature aging from sun exposure, known as photoaging.  A simple glance at the difference in the skin quality between your inner and outer arm is an excellent demonstration of the effect of photoaging.  The skin on the inside of the arm is normally smooth, without spots or discolorations, regardless of the person’s age.  With sun exposure as is seen on the outer arms, the skin because uneven in color, dull, dry and rough.  Both these areas of the skin are the same chronological age, but look drastically different in someone who has had a lot of sun exposure.  Think of it as your body’s own odometer–your sun exposure mileage counter!

Corrective Procedures

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Sunscreen.  Sun protection is absolutely critical to any treatment intended to reverse or diminish the appearance of sun damage.  It can be said that if no effort is made to protect the skin from the ravages of sun exposure, most treatments will be unsuccessful.  

Chemical Peels.  Chemical peels are beneficial in the treatment of wrinkles, skin discoloration, and age spots, as well as dull skin tone and mild acne scars.  A variety of peeling agents can be used to produce light, medium or deeper chemical peels, depending on the sun damage present, the amount of healing downtime acceptable, and the final result desired by the patient.

Intense Pulse Light treatment (IPL).   IPL treatments use visible light to target broken blood vessels and age spots that are characteristic of sun-damaged skin.   These non-ablative treatments also stimulate a degree of collagen remodeling that translates into smoother texture and brightening of skin tone.

Non-ablative Resurfacing.  Non-ablative resurfacing devices wound the skin precisely in vertical columns of heat that stimulate replacement of the collagen and cell layer.  Downtime is minimal, and results can be dramatic if multiple treatments are done over a period of time.

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Laser Resurfacing.  Laser resurfacing employs fractionated carbon dioxide and erbium lasers to vaporize or ablate the undesired tissue.  This higher degree of controlled wounding results in a greater upside in terms of rejuvenation of sun damage with slightly longer healing times.

Botulinum toxin.  Botulinum type A selectively weakens muscles that contribute to excessive wrinkles in areas of sun damage and facial expression.   The treatments are simple, safe and effective, particularly for frown lines and crow’s feet lines.

Soft tissue fillers.  Soft tissue fillers involve injecting a variety of substances under the skin to “fill in” or “plump up” lines, wrinkles and sagging.  The substances most commonly used are inert and based on naturally-occurring substances already present in the skin like hyaluronic acid.   When combined with resurfacing procedures, botulinum toxin or peels,, the results can be very dramatic.

Radiofrequency treatments.  These treatments treat the underlying collagen layer without wounding the skin surface and are designed to stimulate collagen production which results in skin tightening.  These non-invasive treatments such as Thermage are another important tool to combat aging and loss of tone due to sun exposure.

Facelift surgery.  This is a well-known procedure to remove sagging and redundant skin, particularly from the lower third of the face and neck.  The majority of facelift procedures work by tightening a structure known as the SMAS, and can be safely performed under local anesthesia in the office.

Now more than ever, patients of all ages and skin types can look their very best and take corrective measures to combat the ravages of time and sun exposure.   These procedures can be performed either alone or in almost any combination to produce dramatic results, many without significant recovery time.  Our clinic provides the most up to date skin procedures available anywhere.