What Can I Do About Extensive Sun Damage to my Skin?

Doctor Answers (30)

Treating sun damaged skin

+3

There are several things to do to improve sun damaged skin:
1. Sunscreen daily
2. Topical retinoid (Retin-A) regularly
3. Topical Vitamin C regularly
4. Topical alphahydroxy acid (glycolic acid) regularly
5. Multivitamin with minerals daily
Additionally, a TCA peel may be beneficial to remove the damaged surface cells.
If very severe, you may need a more active treatment such as Efudex or Aldera.
Your doctor can recommend what you need after a thorough skin evaluation.


Austin Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Several options for sun damaged skin are available to you.

+2

Light chemical peels, intense pulsed light (photofacial), ALA-PDT (aminolevulanic acid-photodynamic therapy), v-beam laser, microdermabrasion are some of the non-ablative procedures that can help. As far as ablative resurfacing treatments, medium to deep chemical peels, fractionated laser such as the Fraxel re:pair, Active FX, Pearl laser. I would consult with a board certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon regarding your options and their potential side effects and complications.

Bryan K. Chen, MD
San Diego Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Treating Extensive Sun Damage and age spots

+1

There are many different ways to treat extensive sun damage and age spots on your skin.  In general, if you have significant sun damage it is a combination of thinning skin, wrinkles, and spots - both brown and red - on your face.  It usually takes a combination approach to best treat this extensive damage.  Peels or lasers such as the YAG or Fraxel are best for the pigmentation.  V-Beam is usually best for the redness and broken capillaries.  It may take a filler to plump up the skin to restore volume.  It is really important to use sunscreen when this is all done and protect the beautiful skin that you now have!

Michele S. Green, MD
New York Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

You might also like...

Skin rejuvenation for extensive sun damage

+1

You should first be examined by a dermatologist to make sure you do not have any skin cancers.  Sun protection with SPF 50+ daily, tretinoin cream and anti-oxidants should become your routine.  Levulan photodynamic therapy with blue light and IPL will remove sun damage spots.  You may require fractional CO2 treatments with a laser such as the SmartXide DOT to smooth the texture and stimulate some collagen.  Maintenance treatments will be necessary so establish a relationship with a dermatologist you trust.

Martie Gidon, MD, FRCPC
Toronto Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

Sun Damage Treatment Options

+1

 There are SO many excellent treatments available to reverse the effects of sun damage. A lot depends upon your skin type, degree of sun damage, willingness to accept recovery time, and, your budget. The most important factor is to have your skin care regimen supervised by a qualified individual such as a facial plastic surgeon, dermatologist or aesthetician under direct physician supervision. That way, your progress can be monitored properly ensuring good results and minimizing the risk of problems.  In any case, the first key is a good sunblock -- one that you wear every day. In general, makeup that contains sunscreen is not adequate. You really should apply daily a separate sunblock wit SPF of 30. The next key is to ask your skin care professional can guide you through the array of non-surgical options such as glycolic acids, topical anitoxidants and vitamin C based products. Retin A tends to sensitize your skin to the sun and, over time, loses its effectiveness at improving lines and wrinkles.  Best of luck!  Dr. Clevens

Ross A. Clevens, MD
Melbourne Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

Treatment of Extensive Sun Damage

+1
The MicroLaserPeel or “weekend” skin peel addresses conditions associated with sun damage and aging. As compared with microdermabrasion or light chemical peels, a MicroLaserPeel is a deeper treatment that precisely removes the outermost layers of skin, and treats wrinkles, scars, acne scars, keratoses, and irregular pigmentation. The treatment uses topical anesthesia, and typically is repeated 2 to 4 times, spaced 6 to 8 weeks apart. Healing takes 3 to 4 days and resembles a sunburn with redness beginning to fade by the third day, and can be covered with makeup on the fourth day. Patients experience smoother, healthier, more vibrant skin, with a significant immediate change in skin texture and tightness. A MicroLaserPeel is the perfect step between microdermabrasion and more aggressive full laser resurfacing. However, it is important to consult with a dermatologist before undergoing any treatment. 

Daniel Shapiro, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 94 reviews

Extensive Skin Sun Damage Often Best Treated with Laser Resurfacing

+1

Thank you for your question. There are many good treatments for extensive sun damage to the facial skin. You need to have an exam by a Board Certified Dermatologist or Plastic Surgeon to check to be certain that there are no skin cancers or pre cancerous lesions.

Available treatments include:

  • Topical Retin A
  • Microdermabrasion
  • Chemical Peels
  • 5- Fluorouracil Cream for pre-malignant lesions
  • Laser Resurfacing

I prefer Laser Resurfacing because often only one treatment is needed unlike creams that often require months of red irritated skin.

There are many options including CO2 lasers and Erbium Lasers and Flat Beam and Fractional Lasers.

You need to see a Board Certified Expert who is experienced at laser resurfacing for the procedure must be done correctly. Today, Fractional Erbium Lasers 2940 NM are considered safer in that loss of pigment and other complications are less with the Erbium.

Brooke R. Seckel, MD, FACS
Boston Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Conservative to aggressive chemical peels or fractionated laser resurfacing or dermabrasion

+1

The first and most important thing you can is help prevent it from progressing by using a good sunblock as part of your skincare regimen.  

As part of treating the sun damage, there are a range of different treatments that you might consider, depending on the degree of damage and the amount of recovery time you can tolerate. This range extends from a more conservative approach with a series of chemical peels to improve fine lines and skin discoloration, to a more aggressive chemical peel for more extensive changes in skin pigment, texture and tone. For wrinkles associated with sun damage, chemical peels have only a minimal effect. 

A more aggressive treatment using laser or dermabrasion for resurfacing would be required in this case. A more gradual approach to resolving this kind of sun damage could involve a fractionated laser resurfacing such as the  Sciton ProFractional.  A more aggressive approach would be to use a resurfacing tool such as an Erbium YAG laser, such as the Sciton tunable laser or the CO2 laser for resurfacing of the damaged skin. Although there is  a more extensive recovery time for this more aggressive procedure, the results are dramatic in terms of the improvement in extensively sun damaged skin.

Michael R. Macdonald, MD
Bay Area Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Extensive sun damage to skin...

+1

You should start off with a visit to a fully trained medical aesthetician. Preferably one who is employed by a plastic surgeon so the plastic surgeon can monitor your progress. Some things that may benefit you are chemical peels, dermaplaning, and prescritpion skin care such as Obagi or Skin Medica.

Robert Heck, MD
Columbus Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

Dermatologists treat sun damage

+1

The term "extensive sun damage" is vague, so it is difficult to answer your question with precision.

Visit your board-certified dermatologist for an evaluation.  Treating sun damage is part of their bread and butter, and the medically-necessary part of their services is covered by health insurance.  Your dermatologist will be able to do the following:

  1. Evaluate for skin cancer. 
  2. Treat actinic keratoses (scaly spots that have a low, but real, potential to turn into skin cancer)  
  3. Counsel you about treatment for brown spots, broken blood vessels, fine wrinkles, coarse wrinkles, volume loss
  4. Counsel you about how you can preventive further sun damage and maintain your skin (ie sun protection and retinoids)

Good luck.

 

Melissa Chiang, MD
Houston Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.