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The Effects of Sun Damage (Aging Skin)
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The Effects of Sun Damage

Kevin C. Smith MD FACP FRCPC

Freckles or brown spots are very common, and become increasingly noticeable as we age. They tend to concentrate on areas that are commonly exposed to the sun, such as the back of our hands, the chest, and the face. These are the first signs of premature or extrinsic aging. The skin becomes damaged due to accumulated doses of ultraviolet damage from repeated sun exposure, or from artificial sources of UV light such as tanning beds. These spots tend to become more noticeable in color and size over time, presenting a cosmetic problem as we age. If the freckles or moles show signs of abnormality, it may be an early warning sign of skin cancer. Things to look out for, include new or unusual growths which bleed, or which form sores which do not heal immediately. For more about skin cancer, visit www.skincancerguide.ca

Prevention is the best therapy when it comes to sun damage and its effects. Although these spots are a natural process of aging that can’t be controlled, much of this can be slowed down by taking simple precautions such as wearing hats and sun protective clothing when outdoors. Recently developed high SPF sunscreens such as Anthelios-60™ or Ombrelle-60™ can reduce the speed of skin aging, and allow you to enjoy various outdoor activities safely. Another recommendation is the use of Retisol-A 0.01% cream, which is a combination of retinoid and sunscreen, which can slow aging of the skin, and begins to show short-term improvement in skin appearance after a year or two.

If you already show signs of skin damage such as age spots or sun spots, there are still ways to reverse a lot of the damage. Simple application of sun protection can improve existing sun damage and skin tone.  For faster improvement, there are a variety of procedures for treating sun damaged skin.

Medlite™ laser can treat common spots on the face, chest, and hands in a few weeks following therapy. IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) treatments can be effective for treating an area that is shaded with freckles or brown spots in a single session. A more extreme form of this treatment may be used to treat severe cases, or cases where the patient needs the treatment to work quickly. This procedure involves the combined use of a medicine called Levulan™, which is applied to the skin, and the Cutera Xeo-600 laser. This treatment can make drastic improvements in the skin over as little as one to two weeks. 

If you have a concern with a spot, freckle, or mole, or if you notice any irregularities or changes in its appearance, visit your dermatologist to have it inspected.

Related:

age spots,   aging skin,   anti-aging,   skin cancer,   sun spots,