What Can be done About Extensive Sun Damage to my Skin?

Doctor Answers 34

Sun damaged skin

The first thing you should do is to protect your skin from the sun before your complexion gets worse. Wear a minimum 35SPF when you go out, cover up with clothing/hat and try to stay out of the sun at the peak hours of 10-4. 

Photofacial IPL is a great way to address sun damaged skin by correcting blemishes, rough textures, redness and fine lines. Chemical peels are also good, while filler and Botox can help serious wrinkles.

Treating sun damaged skin

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.

Randy J. Buckspan, MD
Austin Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Several options for sun damaged skin are available to you.

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 5 reviews

Sun Damage & how to help

Sunspots form as a result of excess pigmentation due to too much ultra violet light, which obviously is of greater concern at the end of summer after long periods of sun-exposure. With that being said, it’s also important to note that sun damage can stay with you for more than ten years. I recommend 1-2 sessions of the Alexandrite laser. The Alexandrite laser uses thermal energy to destroy the brown spot. You will feel heat with each pulse. Post-treatment the unwanted sun or brown spots will become darker in color and flake off over the course of a week. To treat a full-face of freckles, we would recommend IPL (intense pulsed light) treatment to remove the superficial discoloration. The IPL focuses mainly on achieving an even tone to your skin, is gentler, and has less downtime. To actively treat sun damaged skin I suggest daily use of the Alpha Beta Peels and the Ferulic + Retinol Brightening Solution. This is a winning combination for anyone looking to even his or her skin tone and be proactive about anti-aging.

Dennis Gross, MD
New York Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Management of sun damage starts with managing uv exposure

Step 1: reduce exposure; improve sun/uv protecting

Step 2: implement reparative skin care and add adequate doses of vitamins A,C and E

Step 3: identify specific specific treatments for specific signs of sun damage ( thinness, laxity of skin, pigmentary changes and vascular changes are all likely to be present to varying severity).

The usual management plan involves multi modal treatments and lifestyle changes.

Chien C. Kat, FRCS
Birmingham Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Extensive Skin Sun Damage Treatment

Besides prevention with sunscreen daily and moisturizers, Retin-A is helpful as are treatments with some of the more impressive lasers such as the Sciton BBL/SkinTyte and certain Fractionated lasers. As you age, skin cells lose their ability to make collagen and progressively die off rather than reproducing themselves (“DNA programmed cell death with age”).The Sciton Laser Platform allows multiple laser types and wavelengths to achieve both dramatic improvements of your skin but also maintaining its youthful appearance by reversing this process. See below for more information.

Larry S. Nichter, MD, MS, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 107 reviews

Treating Extensive Sun Damage and age spots

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!

Skin rejuvenation for extensive sun damage

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 20 reviews

Sun Damage Treatment Options

 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 75 reviews

Extensive Skin Sun Damage Often Best Treated with Laser Resurfacing

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.

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.