Can You Reverse Sun Damage?

sun damaged skin

If there’s one thing in this unpredictable world that we know to be true, it’s that the aging process, while different for everyone, leaves no man or woman behind. And healthy veins aren’t the only thing to pay attention to as we age. Overall health and the health of our skin and appearance of our veins can be heavily affected by the level of sun damage we encounter through our lives. But what happens if we over-expose ourselves? Is sun damaged skin reversible, and is healthy, fresh skin still attainable?

Lucky for most of us who enjoy our share of vitamin D and outdoor time, there are many different ways to combat and and even reverse some of the harmful effects of sun damage.  Cosmetic fillers, light and laser treatments, and neuromodulators can help keep skin smooth and healthy, and combat wrinkles and fine lines that develop as the result of repeated folding and use of facial muscles and exposure to sunlight.  

In this paper, Dr. Arndt also coined the now popular term, “Prejuvenation”, a buzzword of sorts describing the cross between prevention and rejuvenation in cosmetic procedures, such as fillers, neurotoxins, neuromodulators, and other beauty treatments of the sort.  

Limit Sun Exposure

Providing your skin adequate sun protection is extremely important at any age. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends everyone use sunscreen on a daily basis, and select one that provides broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays, is water resistant, and is an SPF 30 or higher. 

In addition to using sunscreen, they also recommend taking the following steps when possible to protect your skin properly:

  • Seek shade when possible, and remember that sun rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Follow this rule of thumb: if your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade.
  • Dress to protect yourself from the sun by wearing lightweight long-sleeve shirts, pants, and wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses when possible, and especially when expecting longer sun exposure.
  • Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand. These surfaces reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of sunburn!
  • Practice a healthy diet that may include vitamin supplements as a way to get the necessary levels of vitamin D – this doesn’t have to just come from sun rays!
  • Avoid tanning beds! Ultraviolet light from both the sun and from tanning beds can cause skin cancer, wrinkling, and leathery skin. Try using spray tanning products instead, but always include sunscreen with self tanning products, don’t substitute self tanner for sunscreen.
  • Check your birthday suit on your birthday! AKA – examine your skin at least one time per year. If you notice anything changing, itching, or bleeding on your skin, see a board-certified dermatologist. Skin cancer is highly treatable when caught early.

Antioxidants & Retinoids Serums

Add some of the many “anti-aging” serums available at your local drug store to your sunscreen regime. Most anti-aging products that contain antioxidants already include UV ray protection and damaging free radicals such as pollutants in the air and other damaging chemicals that your skin may come into contact with. Look for serums that include vitamin C or vitamin E for these types of protection.

Additionally, adding a retinoid rich product to your skin on a daily basis is also important. While many people find themselves needing some kind of retinoid treatment in their teen years to address acne problems, these topical ointments also often contain collagen. Collagen is what gives our skin it’s structure, fullness, and firmness. These creams typically include vitamin A as well as collagen, and help guard against pimples and blemishes, as well as wrinkles and aging spots. If you aren’t used to using retinoid creams for acne (lucky you!), start with using a small drop 1-2x per week and gradually move into daily use. It’s imperative to regularly apply retinoid creams, plus antioxidant serums, plus sunscreen to your ski to give yourself the best chance at maintaining that youthful and perky glow!

Neuromodulators to Prevent or Soften Wrinkles

We use the muscles in our face every day. Wrinkles, also known as rhytids,  are simply the folds, creases, and ridges in the skin that develop from the ongoing use of our facial muscles – the more we use them, the thinner and less elastic our skin becomes over time. Neuromodulators are a type of injection that can help relax the affected muscles that form these wrinkles or fine lines to diminish their appearance. 

Or, in the case of practicing prejuvenation, relax the muscles before they have a chance to be “overworked” and cause the folds, creases, or ridges in the skin that develop into wrinkles. The best time to start neuromodulator injections is in a patient’s late twenties or early thirties, but Dr. Wright and his injection specialist, Ginnie, have helped dozens of patients of all ages hone the benefits of neuromodulators (like Botox or Dysport injections) to both prevent and soften wrinkles in problematic areas. These injections have proven successful at preventing and/or softening wrinkles and fine lines in the forehead, frown lines, or other lines around the eyes and eyebrows.

Resurfacing: Stimulate Collagen & Reverse Sun Damaged Skin

Starting in your early thirties, it’s important to address the outer layers of the skin that may have experienced sun damage. Resurfacing procedures are those that utilize the energy from lasers and powerful lights to remove damaged skin cells at the surface and increase collagen growth in the skin’s deeper layers. As a result, your skin can retain it’s elasticity and thickness, and remain wrinkle-free. Chemical Peels, facials, skin tightening, and dermapen treatments are just a few of the  available options for those seeking resurfacing treatment.

Soft Tissue Fillers

It’s only as we age that we begin to show signs of volume loss in the face as we lose collagen. It’s only as we reach the point of noticing modest volume loss that soft tissue fillers, primarily made up of hyaluronic acid, may be necessary. Hyaluronic acid fillers help stimulate your skin’s collagen, and are the ideal treatment type for patients seeking treatments of the lips, under eyes, and cheeks and who wish to “get back” volume in these areas. Determining the timing of these types of injections for “prejuvenation” treatments is unique to every person – we all age differently. While many people don’t see volume loss until their 30s or 40s, others may see fine lines develop earlier than that. 

Skin Tightening Treatments

Skin tightening treatments are last on the list because, like soft tissue fillers, this treatment option will not be necessary for every person at the point in time. It’s unlikely most of us will seek out skin tightening treatments while we’re happy with the elasticity we see in the mirror, but these treatments are the most effective if we catch the skin at the earliest signs of sagging. Getting a tightening treatment every few years can help head off sagging, although the effects of certain preventive treatments may be invisible at the moment. Just like the regular application of sunscreen and antioxidants that don’t deliver a “wow” with every application, they are proven to stave off wrinkles and sunspots. 

Contact us to find out what treatments are available for sun damaged skin