Expert Commentary: Rodger W. Pielet, MD, FACS - 10/30/2009

Posted by Admin on October 29, 2009
Although I cannot emphasize the importance of sunscreen as part of your daily routine, this basic tenet has only been readily accepted in the last decade or two. It is also important to use a good sunscreen that has both UVB and UVA protection of 30 or more for your face and body and you must re-apply frequently. The fact remains, there are many past and present "sun-worshipers" and it is important to not only educate people to protect their skin now, but also, to realize that there are options available to reverse or eliminate the deleterious effects of past sun damage. Remember, the dangers of sun exposure can have a cumulative effect over a lifetime and the damage caused by childhood sunburns might not become apparent until much later in life.

There are ways to minimize or reverse the damage once it has occurred. The latest in laser technology is Fraxel re:store. This is a non-ablative fractional laser skin resurfacing treatment that is safe for all skin types with minimal disruption to ones daily routine.   Although it is very effective at reducing or removing the sun-damaged cells, it also had the added benefit of treating sunspots, age spots, mild to moderate wrinkles, acne scars, surgical scars, melasma and Actinic Keratosis. Fraxel re:store will give you smoother, fresher looking skin, improved tone and texture, reduced wrinkles and improved appearance of acne scars and surgical scars. On average, 4 treatments are required; this depends on the amount of sun damage and your desired results.  In general, the down time is minimal and most people return to work the next day. Afterwards, you will have minimal redness and swelling. There may also be some itchy dry skin, peeling or flaking and a bronzed skin appearance. Moisturizer, make-up and sunscreen can be applied immediately after the treatment.

Wearing and reapplying a good sunscreen with a high sun protection factor that protects from harmful rays and avoiding sun exposure will be your best defense to avoid further damage.  For more information, consult with a professional skincare specialist.

Microdermabrasion is used to remove sun-damaged skin and to remove or lessen scars and dark spots on the skin. The procedure is not painful and requires no anesthetic. Microdermabrasion treatments are not aggressive; they are slow and progressive, and best of all they work! Most patients find Microdermabrasion treatments to be quite relaxing.  The treatment is like a “superficial skin polishing” using micro-crystals vacuumed through a delicate hand piece. In as little as thirty-five minutes, this gentle, abrasive technique efficiently produces satisfying results. Treatments are applied through a course of weekly or bi-weekly sessions, ranging from 2 - 12 weeks.

The best candidates for Microdermabrasion are those patients that :
Cannot afford to take time off for healing from a chemical peel or laser procedure.
Don’t want to put off their outdoor activities like golf, tennis or skiing.
Have skin sensitivities to chemicals or make-up.
Have acne-prone skin that has not responded well to other acne remedies.
Are younger and whose skin is showing early signs of aging.

Chemical Peels are another way to reverse the damage. The treatments are performed in office and will effectively help to reduce the depth of surface lines, improve skin’s texture, help fade brown spots and assist in clearing acne/blemish skin. These types of treatments stimulate collagen and elastin production in the skin. The peel is applied to the skin, it causes the top layers of cells to dry up and peel off over a period of several days. Most people take 5-7 days to heal from an average peel. During the healing process there is no pain, but the skin looks as if it has had severe sunburn.  If you are not too self-conscious about your appearance you may be able to work during part of your peel. After a peel you will be more sensitive to sunlight for at least 6-8 weeks.  During this time it is important to protect the new skin with sunscreens of 30 or higher, hats and avoidance of strong sunlight.

Combining a microderm with a chemical peel solution can produce good results.  The surface exfoliation action of the microderm allows for better penetration of the peel solution.

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