Treating Aged or Sun-Damaged Skin
What is photoaging?
Too much sun exposure can cause premature aging of your skin. This premature wrinkling
and skin damage from sun exposure is called photoaging. Photoaging is not like natural
aging. It causes:
Prevention is the best treatment for photoaging. Wearing sunscreen and avoiding excessive
sun exposure are key. A daily facial moisturizer with an SPF of at least 15 may help
eliminate the need for the sometimes-expensive procedures listed below.
Treatment for sun-damaged skin
No one can stop the natural process of aging, as the skin thins and lines and wrinkles
appear. Moles, scars, and birthmarks also tend to change as we age. In addition, sun
damage over the course of a lifetime worsens the aging skin. Sometimes advanced signs
of aging and sun damage require more invasive dermatology procedures, such as:
Botulinum toxin type A. Injecting botulinum toxin into certain muscles blocks signals from the nerves to
the muscles. The muscles that are injected no longer contract. This prevents the muscles
from forming wrinkles and furrows. Using botulinum will soften existing wrinkles.
But it won’t prevent the signs of aging. It is most often used for forehead lines
and the lines between and around the eyes.
Chemical peels. Chemical peels are often used to minimize sun-damaged skin, irregular skin color
(pigment), and superficial scars. The top layer of skin is removed or irritated with
a chemical applied to the skin. Inflammation results, and new skin regenerates. This
often improves its appearance.
Soft tissue augmentation or dermal filler injections. A soft tissue filler is injected beneath the skin to replace the body's natural collagen
that has been lost. There are many different kinds of fillers available. Fillers are
generally used to treat wrinkles, scars, and facial lines. They also treat wrinkles
caused by volume loss and repetitive muscle contraction. Fillers are also used to
plump up lips and enhance shallow contours and cheekbones.
Dermabrasion. This may be used to minimize small scars, minor skin surface irregularities, surgical
scars, and acne scars. This treatment removes the top layers of skin with a manual
or electrical machine that scrapes (abrades) the skin. As the skin heals from the
procedure, the surface looks smoother and fresher. It can be used for the whole face
or for certain areas or scars. Dermabrasion is sometimes used for aging. But it has
generally been replaced by other methods. Microdermabrasion is a gentler type of dermabrasion.
It uses small particles passed through a vacuum tube to remove aging skin and stimulate
new skin growth. This procedure works best on mild to moderate skin damage. It may
require several treatments.
Laser skin resurfacing. Laser skin resurfacing uses high-energy light to burn away damaged skin. Laser resurfacing
may be used to minimize wrinkles and fine scars. It is also used to reduce enlarged
oil glands, lighten up sunspots, and remove wart-like growths. A newer treatment option
is called nonablative resurfacing. This type of resurfacing also uses a laser and
sometimes electrical energy. But it does not damage the top layers of skin.
Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy. IPL therapy is different from laser therapy because it delivers multiple wavelengths
of light with each pulse (lasers deliver only one wavelength). IPL is a type of nonablative
therapy. This means it does not damage the top layers of skin.
Tretinoin treatment. This prescription skin cream, which is a form of vitamin A, can reduce wrinkles,
rough skin, fine lines, and discolored skin.