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When people think of sun damage, they often think of the immediate effects of staying out in the sun for too long. They picture painful red sunburns that need to be covered in layers of moisturizer and cooling aloe. What they don’t picture, however, is the long-term effects of sun damage.
One of the most prominent long-term effects of sun damage is photoaging; the premature aging of the skin caused by frequent exposure to UV radiation. Photoaging can make your skin sag and develop wrinkles. It can give you hyperpigmentation, and it can even change your skin’s texture from smooth and supple to dry and leathery.
Unfortunately, these signs of long-term damage aren’t likely to go away on their own, but they don’t have to be permanent. There are several things that you can do to reverse the signs of photoaging from long-term sun damage and revitalize your skin.
At our Mississauga plastic surgery clinic we offer treatments and procedures to help you both prevent and reduce the impacts of sun damage on your face. So, if you’ve noticed that years of soaking up the summer sun has made your skin look older than it really is, you should book a consultation with our clinic. Find out how our treatments can help improve the look of your skin and diminish the effects of sun damage.
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Common Types & Impacts of Sun Damage
Sun damage can cause fine lines and wrinkles. When UVA rays penetrate the dermis (the second layer of skin), they can degrade existing collagen fibers and disrupt new ones that are being produced. Collagen is the protein that makes skin smooth, supple, and young-looking. The drop in collagen causes the skin to become thinner and drier, and most notably, it creates visible creases.
UVA rays also degrade the protein Elastin in the dermis. Elastin helps with the elasticity in the skin, allowing it to move without losing its shape. A depletion of elastin causes the skin to lose its ability to maintain its shape and stay firm. Instead, it will start to stretch and sag.
Losing collagen and elastin is a normal part of the aging process. When you get older, your body naturally stops producing as much of these proteins, leading to facial lines and sagging. But sun damage speeds up this process. You do not have to be in your golden years to experience these side effects.
Decreased collagen production can also change the texture of your skin. Collagen provides natural moisture to the skin, which makes it feel supple and soft to the touch. So, without it, the skin will feel dry, scaly, or leathery.
Hyperpigmentation is a general term for skin that is discoloured or darkened. You may recognize hyperpigmentation in the forms of age spots (darker patches of skin). These are also called sunspots and liver spots.
One of the most common causes for hyperpigmentation is sun damage, and this is especially true for people with lighter skin. The dermis produces melanin to protect the skin from damage — this process is what gives you a tan when you soak up the sunshine. Too much sun exposure disrupts this natural process, causing the melanin to create pockets of discolouration that won’t fade away.
Another pigment problem that sun damage can cause is redness. The sun’s rays can permanently stretch blood vessels beneath the skin and these stretched blood vessels can make the skin appear permanently red or blotchy.
These are not the only types of sun damage that you should be concerned about. The sun’s rays can cause serious problems like actinic keratosis, lentigo maligna and, most importantly, skin cancer. If you notice anything out of the ordinary with your skin, it’s crucial that you see your doctor as soon as possible and have them investigate the problem.
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Cosmetic Treatments That Can Reduce the Appearance of Sun Damage
There are multiple cosmetic treatments that can address the cosmetic impacts of long-term sun damage, like sagging, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and texture changes. Here are just some of the options that our GraceMed clinics offer to patients looking to make their skin smooth and healthy again.
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) therapy — also called a Photofacial — is another effective skincare treatment for reversing the signs of sun damage. Similar to microdermabrasion, the treatment stimulates collagen and elastin growth. This protein growth reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and makes the skin look smoother and healthier than before. It also targets pigment imperfections (hyperpigmentation, redness) to achieve an even complexion.
The IPL laser emits pulses of light into a targeted area of the skin. The pigmented cells in the skin absorb the light, heat up and dissolve. The light also causes some superficial damage to the dermis (the second layer of skin). This encourages the skin to repair itself by producing more collagen and elastin.
We offer IPL laser therapy to patients who are hoping to reverse the signs of sun damage on their skin. The service is available at our clinics in Burlington, Oakville, Mississauga, and North York.
A facelift is a surgical procedure that lifts tissues, tightens underlying muscles, and removes loose skin. The results of the surgery should give a patient smoother, tauter skin, and a more youthful appearance. You can get a facelift in Toronto at our GraceMed clinics.
A facelift can help reduce two signs of long-term sun damage: wrinkles and sagging. It does this by pulling the skin taut and removing excess skin.
Blepharoplasty is an eyelid lift. The surgical procedure discards excess skin and tissue from the upper and/or lower lid. After recovering from the surgery, the patient should have smoother skin and younger-looking eyes.
Why would this be a good option to recover from long-term sun damage? The skin around your eyes is delicate, which means it’s sensitive to sun damage. Ironically, the eyes are one of the most popular places where people forget to apply sunscreen before they go outside. The mistake can lead to some particularly painful sunburns and long-term signs of sun damage, including fine lines, wrinkles and sagging skin.
Blepharoplasties are often paired with facelift surgeries for optimal results. Facelifts can diminish the appearance of wrinkles and folds on most areas of the face, but not the upper and lower eyelids.
We offer blepharoplasty in Burlington, Mississauga and North York at our GraceMed clinics.
Botox is a neuromodulator, and neuromodulators block the signals between nerves and muscles. This quality is what makes Botox so effective at smoothing out dynamic wrinkles.
When the facial muscles contract, they can cause fine lines and wrinkles. Botox injections can stop these facial muscles from contracting so much, smoothing out the fine lines and wrinkles in the process. Here are some of the wrinkles that the injections can treat:
- Crow’s feet
- Vertical lip lines
- Forehead wrinkles
- Bunny lines
- Frown lines
We offer botox in North York for patients that are looking to smooth out their facial wrinkles. We also offer the service at our Oakville, Burlington, and Mississauga clinics.
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Dermal fillers are gel-like substances injected underneath the skin to add volume. Fillers are used to accomplish a variety of treatments, like diminishing under-eye circles, contouring cheekbones, and plumping lips. One of the most popular dermal filler treatments is reducing facial wrinkles. The added volume fills in the creases, giving a smooth and supple surface.
We offer dermal fillers in Mississauga for patients that want to smooth static wrinkles and fill facial folds. We also have this service at our Burlington, North York, and Oakville clinics. However, if you’re looking for a specific dermal filler, you should call the clinic ahead of time to make sure that the filler is available at that location.
Microdermabrasion is a minimally invasive skincare treatment. It’s an effective way for patients to decrease the signs of long-term sun damage on their face, like fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation.
During the treatment, a specialist exfoliates the patient’s skin using a specialized diamond-tipped tool. The exfoliation accomplishes several things:
- It removes the top layer of skin, including stubborn debris (dead skin cells, oil, dirt).
- It allows skincare products like moisturizers and sunscreens to penetrate the skin better.
- It encourages your skin to produce more collagen.
So, the treatment removes the uneven, damaged layer of skin and promotes the growth of a smoother, healthier layer.
We offer microdermabrasion in Mississauga for patients that want to improve the appearance and texture of their skin. We also offer the service at our Burlington and Oakville clinics.
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How to Prevent Sun Damage?
When you make the effort to reverse the signs of sun damage, you will want to do your best to prevent them from developing all over again. These are some simple tips that can help you protect your skin now and later.
One of your best defences against harmful UVA and UVB rays is sunscreen. Apply it in the morning before you go outside, even when the weather isn’t sunny. The sun’s rays can still reach you on an overcast day.
You should make a habit to wear sunscreen every day, all year round — including the winter. It’s actually very important to wear sun protection during the winter months because the sun’s rays are more likely to reach you — they come at you from the sky and reflect off white snow, doubling your exposure. The same problem occurs during the summer months when you go to the beach. The sun’s rays reflect off of the water and the sand.
Take a look at our blog to see how to find the best sunscreen for your skin type and lifestyle. It will help you stock up your medicine cabinet with the right products for your face.
Don’t Skip Your Eyes
Apply sunscreen to lids and the under-eyes. If you’re worried about irritating your eyes, you should get a mineral sunscreen. Mineral sunscreens are better options for sensitive skin and are less likely to sting or irritate your eyes.
After applying sunscreen to your eyelids and under-eyes, you should put on a pair of UV protection sunglasses to give yourself another safeguard against sun damage.
Don’t Forget Your Lips
Lips are also a commonly forgotten area when it comes to applying sun protection. And like the eyelids, they are just as vulnerable to getting burnt in the hot summer sun and developing fine lines later on.
You can apply sunscreen to your lips or get a lip balm with a high SPF. Apply it liberally and often since it might wipe off after you’ve eaten, drank, etc.
Use More Than Sunscreen
Sunscreen isn’t the only type of sun protection you should think about. Use accessories like sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats to shade your skin from UV rays when you’re outdoors in the summer. Fill your makeup bag with products that have high SPFs. You can find this feature in everything from eyeshadow to concealer. Cover up with long-sleeved, lightweight clothing on sunny days. You can even find clothes that are specifically designed to block UV rays! Look for items that have a high UPF rating, especially when you’re shopping for outfits that you know that you’re going to use for outdoor activities.
Check Your Meds
Some medications can cause sun sensitivity, known medically as “photosensitivity.” This terminology may be indicated on the patient’s prescription. Take a close look at your prescription medicine to see whether this is listed as a side effect. If it is, you will need to take extra care of your skin whenever you go outside.
These tips will do more than help you avoid the long-lasting impacts of sun damage on your face. They will help you avoid sunburns and reduce your chances of developing conditions like skin cancer. Sun protection is an essential practice for maintaining beautiful, healthy skin.
Skin Treatments at GraceMed
If a skin treatment or surgery seems like the right choice to remedy your long-lasting sun damage, then you should come to GraceMed. Book a consultation at one of our clinic locations and see whether you’re a good candidate for the procedure. Your consultation is also a good opportunity to discuss any additional treatments that you’d like to try, like blepharoplasty, Botox, or IPL therapy.
The effects of sun damage don’t have to stick with you forever. You can reverse them and get clear, healthy, and young-looking skin again.