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Best Treatment for Sun Damaged Skin?

I am a 28 year old female and I've been a sun worshipper up until this year. I also swim in an outdoor pool every day, thus am in the sun on most days. My skin is normal, but after pool chlorine, I experience severe dehydration. Due to high cheekbones and many summers sunbathing like mad, I now have a few wrinkles under the eyes. They are only apparent when I smile, but they are really getting me down, and I fear that they will get deeper with time. I've also noticed my skin tone is not excellent (people comment on my skin, but under a magnifying glass, I can see lot of pigmentation and uneven tones due to sun damage). Thus I'd like to do something now to try and get rid of the wrinkles and prevent further damage.

I've done lot of research, and although most people recomend Obagi peel or Retin A, I am frightened as I do not wish to have a face that's peeling. Also I read that you are not allowed to be exposed to the sun while using Retin-A. Is that correct? I'm concerned about this because I'm always outdoors (but now wear SPF 30). I do not have wrinkles anywhere else and I am also unsure what products are best (daily/monthly treatments) to ensure skin remains wrinkle-free. A lot of people have noted that problems return when they stop using the range.

Others recomend ROC Deep wrinkle night cream, IPL, or microdermabrasion. What is the best option from all of these? I would like something safe but actually works and gives long-term results. Any ideas?

Doctor Answers (5)

Treatments for sun damaged skin.

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There are several treatments to help resolve pigmentation due to the sun. First, it is always most important to wear a sunblock that is at least spf 30 daily.There are home care regimes that have been very successful in lightning pigment that are Hydroquinone free and can be used continually. Lytera by Skin Medica is a daily serum that is applied morning and night that has been shown to be effective with lightening hyperpigmentation. Mild to moderate Chemical peels are also a option to speed up the lightning process with very minimal down time. Some alternative products that contain Bearberry extract, Kojic Acid, and Lactic acid are also good for reducing pigment.  Sun protection is very important to keep pigment from returning or getting darker while using these products. It is always best to see a professional to help evaluate and recommend proper treatment based on your specific skin care needs. 


San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

The Best Treatment for Sun Damaged Skin

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Because of your life style and your continued solar exposure I would recommend that you avoid Retin -A and would suggest that you consider moving toward a glycolic skin care product which would product similar results without the solar irritation common with Retin-A. To Treat the irregular areas of pigmentation, a hydroquinone product with a judicious application of sunblock is highly recommended. A link to a more detailed skin care plan is listed below.  Good Luck

Joseph Rucker, MD, FACS
Eau Claire Plastic Surgeon
3.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Retin-A and Obagi Blue Peel for Sun Damaged Skin

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My advise is to start with Tretenoin products like Renova and Retin-A. These are helpful where ever there is sun damaged skin. By all means use it as tolerated in all of the areas affected. We recommend starting with the lowest dosage, than gradually increase the  strength as tolerated. Should you not get the results you want you can then move to an Obagi Blue TCA peel

Larry S. Nichter, MD, MS, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

There are so many great ways to treat sun damaged skin

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There is no one best way to treat sundamaged skin.  There are SO many excellent treatments available to revers 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. 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. 

Ross A. Clevens, MD
Melbourne Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

SPF 30 is critical for sun damaged skin

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Dear Tiyana,

Other than using SPF, you could add a glycolic acid cream to your skin care regimen which is inexpensive, helpful for sun damage, and less photosensitizing than Retin-A.

You should also be evaluated for possible BOTOX treatments to the wrinkles around your eyes when you smile. It lasts for 4 months, and is excellent at preventing worsening of your wrinkles.

After the summer, you could get evaluated for IPL PhotoFacial treatments which are also helpful in eliminating sun damage.

I hope this helps, and best regards.

Eric M. Joseph, MD
West Orange Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 270 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.