Summer is just about over. How much time did you spend in the sun?
It wouldn’t be summer if you didn’t want to spend as much time as possible outdoors enjoying the beautiful weather. Come to think of it, Fall, Winter and Spring have their fair share days of sunny days as well. Whether you’re spending your outdoor time playing sports, gardening or just hanging out enjoying the fresh air, you’re definitely exposing yourself to more sunlight than you would if you were indoors, and the truth is sunlight is not without its advantages. Exposure to the sun is known to increase serotonin levels and higher serotonin levels are known to lift your mood by increasing feelings of happiness and well-being. Unfortunately, the downside to a gorgeous, sun-drenched day is the fact that it also exposes you to the damaging effects of the sun and even with the use of a good sunblock, some damaging, photo-aging rays will get through and increase your chances for premature wrinkles, sagging skin, freckles (aka sun damage), uneven skin tone and texture changes as well as other undesirable side-effects.
It’s certainly preferable to prevent sun damage before it occurs rather than deal with it afterwards, but in-office modern medicine does have some viable options if you’re looking to reverse some of the harm you have accrued. Here, Beverly Hills-based dermatologist, Michael Lin, MD, suggests Intense Pulsed Light, Photodynamic Therapy and Chemical Peels as 3 in-office ways to do damage control:
Intense Pulsed Light
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) is an FDA-cleared and patented skin treatment that delivers multiple wavelengths of light with each pulse. It’s effective at diminishing freckles, mottled pigmentation and other skin tone changes caused by sun exposure. IPL is non-invasive so there’s no damage to the outer surface of the skin but downtime can vary depending what your needs are and if a little or a lot of energy is delivered to the skin.
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a light-activated, minimally invasive skin treatment that couples a photosensitizing, non-toxic drug with light therapy. It’s used to treat sun damage, pre-cancerous cells on the skin and acne. The drug is light activated to target both sun-damaged and pre-cancerous cells. Depending on the severity of the condition, patients may need multiple treatments spaced up to five weeks apart to see optimal results. It’s also often paired with another light treatment to achieve results in fewer sessions.
A mainstay of dermatologists, chemical peels can be used to treat sun-damaged skin. In a chemical peel treatment, a chemical application removes the top layer of skin, allowing it to regenerate, thereby revealing newer, fresher, healthier skin.
The lightest peel option is an AHA peel which can be glycolic, lactic or fruit acid. This mild option has little to no recovery time with just some possible temporary redness and flaking expected. It’s suitable for the treatment of fine wrinkles, uneven pigmentation and acne. For optimal results, AHA peels usually require a series of treatments spaced one week apart.
A deeper chemical peel, trichloroacetic acid (TCA) is also used to treat sun damaged skin, uneven pigmentation and wrinkles, greatly improving the tone and texture of the skin. A TCA peel is able to achieve greater and more dramatic results than the milder AHA peel but with this peel you can expect some downtime (prolonged redness and scabbing) that can last up to a week.