Does your skin make you look older than you are — or perhaps just older than you feel? This is a common complaint here in sunny Los Angeles. Skin imperfections such as wrinkles, laxity, hyperpigmentation and age spots are more often due to sun damage than the aging process. In this blog, Charles S. Lee, MD, the founder of Enhance® Medical Center, explains why and how the sun is responsible for making your skin look older.
What the Research Says
The World Health Organization released a report on the importance of protecting against sun damage. Since WHO is primarily concerned with promoting healthy lifestyles, the report understandably focused on sunburns, skin cancer and the sun’s potential negative effects on your immune system. However, the report also concludes that up to 90% of visible changes on the skin are caused by sun exposure rather than aging. That is a startling amount that should not be overlooked.
How Sun Harms the Skin
When UV rays reach your skin, they damage your DNA in a process known as photoaging. Your body then generates melanin to protect your skin from further damage, which is what makes your skin turn tan. While UVB rays cause damage to the surface of the skin (like sunburns), UVA rays reach deeper into the dermis. Specifically, UVA rays damage collagen fibers, with abnormal collagen regenerated in its place. This damaged collagen is not as able to maintain the tone and tightness of the skin in the way that healthy collagen can.
What This Means for You and Your Skin
While it can be discouraging to learn how much of an adverse effect UV exposure can have on your skin, this may actually be good news. After all, while you cannot stop the aging process, you can take active steps to protect your skin from the sun. The younger you put this information into practice, the better off your skin will be. That said, improving your habits at any age can reduce subsequent signs of aging.
To limit your exposure, wear sunscreen when you leave the house during the daytime. Wearing hats, sunglasses and long sleeves can also help shield the skin from the sun. Try to avoid spending time outdoors from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when UV rays are strongest.
Improve the Condition of Your Sun Damaged Skin
Avoiding the sun completely is not realistic. Fortunately, the team at Enhance® Medical Center has a variety of non-surgical treatments that can address signs of premature aging that accompany spending time in the sun. You may not be able to stay young forever, but you can enjoy smooth, supple skin that makes you look significantly younger than you are. For a consultation at our Beverly Hills office, please call . (310) 271-5954