Most people are familiar with the skin-damaging effects of ultraviolet light (UV). There are other types of light, though, which doctors are now using to minimize the signs of long-term sun damage. The skin damage and skin aging caused by exposure to UV light is referred to as photoaging. The most common signs of photoaging are:
- Wrinkled and leathery skin
- Uneven skin color
- Broken blood vessels
- Roughness of the skin surface
The wrinkles and damage to your skin’s texture are caused by UV light damaging your collagen and elastin proteins. Fortunately, doctors have a treatment for this called photodynamic therapy. This procedure involves spreading a medicine over the patient’s skin and allowing it to soak in. The doctor then activates the medicine with light, and the medicine goes to work promoting the regrowth of collagen and other proteins.
Another option for combating photoaging is intense pulsed light, which research has shown to be effective in treating uneven skin color and the appearance of broken blood vessels.
The most versatile method for counteracting photoaging is laser resurfacing. A wide variety of laser wavelengths can be used in different ways to treat the full spectrum of skin conditions, from sun spots and blood vessels to wrinkles and uneven pigmentation.
For example, a fractionated ablative laser (operating at the 10,600 nanometer range) removes the upper layers of skin. This prompts newer, healthier skin to grow, removing superficial wrinkles, sun spots, and broken blood vessels.
Patients today have more light-based treatment options for skin-aging than ever before. The rapidly growing body of knowledge behind these treatments means a more targeted and personalized procedure for every patient.Pacific Center for Plastic Surgery Drs. Larry Nichter and Jed Horowitz offer all of this and other treatments for sun damaged skin.
Abstracted from Light for Light, Ahmet Altiner, MD and Adelle Quintana, MD, Vol. 29, 2011 of The Skin Cancer Foundation Journal