Treating Aged or Sun-Damaged Skin
What is photoaging?
Excessive exposure to the sun early in life can make a person look older than he or
she really is. This premature wrinkling and skin damage from sun exposure is called
photoaging. Photoaging, unlike natural aging, results in coarse, dry skin; freckling
and skin discoloration; leathery skin; and deep wrinkles.
Treatment for sun-damaged skin
No one can avoid 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. Although there are many
anti-aging creams on the market, advanced signs of aging and sun damage sometimes
require more invasive dermatological procedures, including the following:
Botulinum toxin type A. An injection of botulinum toxin (a complex type of protein) into specific muscles
will immobilize those muscles, preventing them from forming wrinkles and furrows.
The use of botulinum will also soften existing wrinkles but will not prevent the signs
of aging. It is used most commonly for the lines between the eyes and forehead lines.
Chemical peels. Chemical peels are often used to minimize sun-damaged skin, irregular pigment, and
superficial scars. The top layer of skin is removed with a chemical application to
the skin. By removing the top layer, the skin regenerates, often improving its appearance.
Soft tissue augmentation or filler injections. A soft tissue filler is injected beneath the skin to replace the body's natural collagen
that has been lost. There are multiple different kinds of fillers available. Filler is
generally used to treat wrinkles, scars, and facial lines, and wrinkles that result
from volume loss and repetitive muscle contraction.
Dermabrasion. Dermabrasion may be used to minimize small scars, minor skin surface irregularities,
surgical scars, and acne scars. As the name implies, dermabrasion involves removing
the top layers of skin with an electrical machine that abrades the skin. As the skin
heals from the procedure, the surface appears smoother and fresher.
A gentler version of dermabrasion, called microdermabrasion, 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 and may require several treatments.
Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy. IPL therapy is different from laser therapy in that it delivers multiple wavelengths
of light with each pulse (lasers deliver only one wavelength). IPL is a type of nonablative*
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. A newer treatment option is called
nonablative* resurfacing, which also uses a laser as well as electrical energy without
damaging the top layers of skin.
Tretinoin treatment. Tretinoin treatment, a prescription topical cream, can reduce wrinkles, rough skin,
and discolored skin.
*Nonablative dermatological procedures do not remove the epidermal (top) layer of
the skin. Ablative procedures remove the top layers of skin.