This Fall in Santa Barbara we were treated to an extended summer. Lots of clear, sunny and warm days drew us outside for beach days, backyard barbecues, and hikes in our local mountains. While we were enjoying our beautiful weather, many of us were unknowingly exposing our skin to photodamage (sun damage) due to repeated and/or prolonged exposure to the sun’s rays.
For some of us, the sun damage appears almost instantly (usually in the case of a bad burn) while others may not show any “damage” for many years. The photodamage can present itself in different ways:
- Abnormal pigment clumps (often referred to as “age spots” or “liver spots”)
- Wrinkles and sagging of the skin (caused by damage to the collagen and elastin network in the dermis)
- Neoplastic changes (such as pre-cancerous or true skin cancer)
As winter approaches, some people may notice more “freckles” or discoloration on their face, shoulders, chest, and hands (the places that are exposed to the sun most frequently). As a Santa Barbara cosmetic surgeon, I will receive lots of inquiries about how to reverse the sun damage and/or prevent further damage from taking place. The good news is that there are now a number of way to erase sun damage that ranges from medical grade products all the way to the operating room.
While many people would love to have the majority of their sun damage, acne and/or facial scarring, skin irregularities and pre-cancerous lesions removed in one process (via a cosmetic surgery procedure called Chemabrasion), the reality is that many people do not have the downtime required for healing and/or the financial means to have this done. If this is the case, then there are non-invasive medical procedures that require little (or no downtime) that give a nice result. Some of these procedures take a series of treatments to yield the maximum result desired.
These are the non-invasive aesthetic treatments that I recommend for treating mild to moderate sun damage:
Before lasers were available, photodamaged skin was often treated with chemical exfoliation in order to cause the surface damaged tissue to peel off exposing cleaner, fresher, and younger skin underneath. Peels involve the application of an acid solution to the skin and are still appropriate treatments today – especially for larger areas on the body that may be relatively expensive to treat with light energy alone. More aggressive peels (using stronger acids) may also help fine lines and wrinkles. At my Santa Barbara cosmetic surgery office we have some protocols that combine both peels and light-based modalities to get the best of both!
This non-ablative procedure uses both intense pulsed light (IPL) and radio frequency (RF) to improve the color imperfections of your skin. The inventors of this treatment found that combined IPL and RF give better results than IPL alone and patented the name spelled with an “F” – FotoFacial. So any procedure spelled with a “Ph” – PhotoFacial – uses only IPL energy. A FotoFacial will improve the skin’s texture and appearance through reduction of redness, age spots, sun damage, liver spots, and uneven pigmentation. There is no downtime after a FotoFacial and it can be used on the face, neck, chest, and backs of the hands.
The Cutera laser company developed a unique treatment for “ruddy” skin called Laser Genesis. This Nd:Yag laser delivers thousands of low energy pulses to the rosy skin and gently causes the small vasculature to “seal off”, resulting in a more normal appearance without any downtime.
Laser energy is delivered to the skin in thousands of tiny pulses that create minute holes and injure only a fraction of the skin. These holes cover over very rapidly so “downtime” is usually short. As the spacing between the holes and the depth of each hole can be controlled, this type of resurfacing can be “titrated” to the problems being addressed. One treatment can produce a 40% improvement. The procedure will not only address pigmentation but it can also improve fine lines and wrinkles, textural irregularities, and acne scars. The resurfacing procedure also encourages new growth of elastin and collagen which will tighten the skin.
Sun damage happens to everyone – sometimes even more so living in sunny Southern California and in Santa Barbara where I practice. Treating sun damaged skin helps to reverse hyperpigmentation as well as improve the overall appearance and health of the skin. This holiday season give yourself the gift of renewed skin that will last you through the winter and beyond!
All of these medical aesthetic treatments can be done at Evolutions Medical & Day Spa in Santa Barbara. Contact Evolutions Medical & Day Spa at 805-687-0212.