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Sun Damage

What is it?

Sun damaged skin appears uneven, blotchy, dull and crepey. Brown uneven pigmentation is the result of chronic exposure to sun over many years, and often looks like a “permanent tan” in uneven patches. It can take on a rough or leathery appearance in later years, and wrinkles appear faster on sun damaged skin because UV radiation destroys collagen. The neck is particularly vulnerable to sun damage effects because it is thinner and more vulnerable than the face, and is often neglected from sunscreen protection. The skin can become blotchy, have bumpy texture like chicken skin (elastosis occurs when UV radiation destroys collagen and creates a type of “scarring”), and appear crepey like tissue paper. Fortunately there are ways to reverse and prevent further sun damage.

Lifestyle Factors

Learning how to minimize direct and indirect UV exposure is the key to preventing accelerated ageing effects of the skin from sun. A daily sunscreen, wearing hats or having the face/neck shaded as much as possible when doing outdoor activites, and finding UV protecting fabrics for arms and legs are helpful strategies. Cigarette smoke also kills collagen and restricts blood supply to the skin, so smoking accelerates the ageing process as well.

Skincare Adjuncts

Skincare is the single most important factor in helping to reverse sun damage. Foremost is the prevention of further damage by protecting the skin from daily UV radiation, a high zinc content sunscreen that is worn as a daily moisturizer for the face, neck and other areas chronically exposed during daylight hours should become a habit for anyone seeking skin rejuvenation. Retinoic acid, antioxidants such as Vitamin C, E, turmeric and other topical agents that help to shed dead skin cells, renew collagen, and normalize pigmentation can be incorporated into a simple yet effective skincare regimen.

Treatment Options

Treatment OptionKey BenefitAverage Number of TreatmentsAmount of DowntimeComfort Measures
Fotofacial, BBL (intense pulsed light)Makes more even skintone. Targets brown spots very effectively, also fades redness from rosacea, spider veins3-5 sessions done monthlyLittle to none. Freckles darken for 2-3 days then slough off. Return to work same dayTopical anesthetic.
Fraxel Dual 1927Dramatic fading of brown pigmentation sun damage 1-2 sessions
Can be done monthly
Pink x 1-2 days. Brown pigment darkens and peels by day 5Topical anesthetic
Fraxel Restore 1550Improves deeper pigment sun damage and elastosis of neck and chest4, done 2-3 months apart3 days of redness and swelling, exfoliation by day 5-6Topical anesthetic, oral sedation and analgesics advised
Sciton Erbium microlaserpeelVery precise peeling of very superficial layers of skin. Brightens and smooths skin surface, more even tone1-2 for pigment improvement1-2 days. Feels and looks like a sunburn, apply ointment during recovery period.Topical anesthetic optional, cold air can be used instead of numbing cream
Sciton Halo Hybrid LaserEvens blotchy pigment, improves pore size1-2Gentle peel has no recovery time. Moderate peels have 1-2 days of redness, possibly 1-3 days of swellingTopical anesthetic