As the winter months finally draw to a close and the days begin to get warmer, it’s only natural to start spending more time enjoying the outdoors. However it is important to remember that even though the sun may seem pleasant, it is most definitely not your friend. Sun damage, caused by the exposure of the skin to harsh, ultraviolet radiation, is the single largest cause of facial wrinkles and sagging skin. While facial rejuvenation treatments and cosmetic plastic surgery procedures can help alleviate this damage, taking a few basic steps to help avoid it in the first place can be one of the best things you can do to keep your skin looking young and vital.
Many people still associate a tanned complexion with good health, but attaining a rich, dark skin color from being in the sun, or from spending time in a tanning booth, actually accelerates many of the classic signs of facial aging and increases your risk for developing skin cancer. Long term exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light damages the skin’s elastin, a highly elastic protein that allows the skin to resume its shape after stretching or contracting. When elastin breaks down, the skin loses its firmness and begins to sag and droop, forming wrinkles and folds. Moreover, when sunlight comes in contact with skin a cascade of damage results (including the stripping of barrier lipids) causing inflammation, production of reactive oxygen molecules that affect healthy cell growth, and stimulation of collagen destroying enzymes. Finally, UV light also weakens the skin, allowing it to be bruised or torn more easily and forcing it to take longer to heal. So while sun damage to the skin may not be apparent when you’re young, it will definitely show later in life.
Protecting your skin from sun damage usually begins with the liberal application of sun screen. I recommend using a product with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or greater (for UVB rays) and zinc oxide (for UVA rays) in order to get maximum protection. Apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before sun exposure and every 2 hours thereafter, and even more frequently if you are sweating or swimming. Studies indicate that most people do not apply nearly as much daylight protection as they should. Sun damage can also be reduced, at least in part, by avoiding dehydration. A healthy diet that includes eight 8-ounce glasses of plain, filtered water every day can help maintain critical moisture balance of the body and skin, and assist in detoxification, particularly if you are spending time in the sun.
Unfortunately, as much as eighty percent of a person’s lifetime sun exposure is acquired before age 18, so by the time we notice the effects, the damage has already been done. Moderate and even severe skin damage caused by years of sun exposure can often be treated with the Sciton® BroadBand Light™ laser skin resurfacing system. Laser skin resurfacing treatments reduce wrinkles, fine lines, hyperpigmentation, and sun damage while also addressing common skin conditions like acne, keratosis, and scarring. By removing the dead and damaged skin cells that make up the outermost layers of skin while promoting collagen growth to repair damaged tissue, skin appearance can be significantly improved with little or no surgical downtime.
If you are interested in any of the cosmetic procedures that I perform, contact the office to schedule a consultation today. Also, don’t forget to connect with me, Dr. James Namnoum, on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more plastic surgery news and updates.