Wrinkles. Spots. Enlarged pores. Facial Veins. Sagging Skin.
They can seem to appear all at once, or they may creep in as the years pass by — but is age to blame?
While we frequently attribute our crows’ feet and spider veins to getting older, the truth is that over 90% of skin “aging” is due to sun damage — not time. What’s more, the longer we stay in the sun, the lower our resistances are to UV damage. Our bodies naturally defend us from sun damage in our early years by neutralizing free radicals (reactive oxygen atoms that damage our skin’s collagen) and much of the UV radiation put forth by the sun. Eventually our lifetime of accumulated sun exposure has finally worn down our natural shields. Our skin comes under direct attack, and we begin to see more clearly the signs of sun damage: wrinkles, enlarged pores, sagging skin, spotting or freckling, and spider veins.
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Rejuvenating “Aged” and Sun Damaged Skin
Most people have spent a good portion of their lives in the sun, and nearly all of those people will show signs of sun damage on their face by the time they’re thirty. And for those who do, there are a plethora of treatments available and approved by the FDA:
- Chemical Peels: Chemical peels use a chemical solution to dissolve the layer of dead skin cells that rests on the skin’s surface. These are generally used for superficial rejuvenation, and other options are available for patients who are seeking more aggressive treatment objectives. Deeper peels also exist, but have largely been replaced by lasers.
- Laser and Energy Treatments: These treatments use laser, energy or pulsed light to stimulate the production of collagen in the skin, replace old-looking skin, and rejuvenate both the superficial layer of skin and deeper tissue. These are an excellent option for evening skin tone, removing dark spots, and diminishing the appearance of wrinkles.
- Microdermabrasion: This “lunchtime procedure” employs the use of an abrasive gel or surface to remove the topmost layer of the skin, encouraging new growth and improving the skin’s texture. These are used for very topical rejuvenation and are not highly effective for more serious rejuvenation needs. I use microdermabrasion in my practice primarily as a product-delivery device as it is highly effective at removing the stratum corneum and introducing topical products into the skin.
- Topical Creams: Anti-wrinkle and other creams fall into this category. These products can be used in prevention (sunscreen) and as a part of an overall rejuvenation regimen.
- Dermal Fillers and Injectables: Botox® and Collagen are the most familiar names in this category, but there are many different types of injectables. Some work to plump up wrinkles, while others work to immobilize muscles and prevent the appearance of wrinkles.
- Cosmetic Surgery: Surgery is the most invasive and serious of rejuvenation options, but also yields the most dramatic results. It is the best option for extremely loose and sagging skin.