Is Sun Damage Permanent?

Doctor Answers 2

Improving Permanent Sun Damage

The sun can exact specific changes to the skin, some of which are permanent. It is crucial to perform the following interventions if you believe you have moderate to severe sun damage, including a loss of skin elasticity, sun spots, and precancerous skin lesions.

  • Avoid further sun damage by using sunscreen regularly
  • Consider prescription creams to reduce sun spots and hyperpigmentation
  • Speak to your physician about topical Retin-A or other agents to reduce precancerous lesions and improve collagen in the dermis


Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 94 reviews

Erasing Sun Damage

Sun Damage is not permanent. Sun damage is one of the top concerns my patients come in for after the summer. We know it can be the biggest enemy to your skin, causing premature aging, dark spots, uneven skin tone, Melasma and skin cancer. Many people tend to forget or may not be aware of the fact that the sun they got in their youth is still actively accelerating the aging process. Sun exposure from years ago will catch up to you in a matter of time. Like all forms of radiation, the harmful UV rays causing free radical damage in your skin has a delayed reaction time. The best thing you can do for yourself is know where the health of your skin stands right now. Work aggressively to preserve your skin by preventing and treating the skin. By doing this you are changing the course of how your skin behaves. If you intervene in the aging process, you can reverse the clock.

Treating Different Types of Sun Damage

Dark Spots – If you are a patient who is interested in getting rid of dark spots on the face, chest, arms, hands or legs the Gentle Max Pro Alexandrite resurfacing treatment will quickly and easily eliminate them, leaving the skin clear and youthful. The number of treatments will depend on your skin—and how many brown spots you have. Expect that you might need one to several treatments over the course of several weeks to get rid of the dark spots entirely. Following the treatment, any spots treated by this laser will become darker in color, scab and gently flake off. Total downtime can vary from two to five days. This laser is brilliant! It’s quick, there is no scarring and very little downtime.

Discoloration, Melasma and Redness – To treat the whole face, especially freckles I recommend the IPL (Intense Pulse Light or Photo Rejuvenation) treatment. Focusing on achieving a beautiful even skin tone all over, this treatment will remove any superficial discoloration. There is no downtime with this treatment; you will walk out of the office with noticeable improvement in brown hyperpigmented areas, as well as a reduction in overall redness. A series of treatments may be recommended.

Anti-aging, Rejuvenation and Dark Spots – A few times a year I highly recommend doing a Retinol Peel. These are our deeper peels, which also go by names like the Vitamin A Peel or Retinoic Acid Peel. This peel treatment delivers a stronger concentration of acids than your professional in-office no downtime peel. It is followed by a high dose of retinol meant to maximize ingredient penetration and absorption of the anti-aging actives. A Vitamin A Peel is suitable for all skin types and will gently remove dead skin cells and promote a healthier looking skin. Your skin will be glowing, softer and with a smoother more even skin tone. Downtime is 5 to 7 days and involves facial peeling as well as staying out of the sun. Afterwards it is recommended to use gentle products (such as a moisturizer and face wash) with simple non-irritating ingredients.

Keep in mind, regardless of these amazing treatments, you should never go in the sun unprotected. Dark spots will return if you do not wear sunscreen or increase your level of SPF. Sun damage can happen all year-round. Dark spots, redness and freckles are all ways your skin is talking to you, and telling you that it has had too much UVA/UVB exposure.

Dennis Gross, MD
New York Dermatologist
4.4 out of 5 stars 5 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.