Photoaging: Repair and Protect

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Photoaging is the medical term used to describe the damage the sun inflicts on your skin. If your skin is repeatedly exposed to sunlight without the necessary precautions, it loses its ability to repair itself. Repeated exposure breaks down collagen and impairs the synthesis of new collagen. It also attacks our elastin fibers. Without the skin’s supportive connective tissue, it loses its strength and flexibility. Both UVA and UVB cause our skin to age more rapidly than if we were to avoid the sun and use proper protection, making sun exposure a form on “extrinsic aging”, meaning aging due to the environment. “Intrinsic aging” is due to our genetics, the “biological clock” of our skin cells.  Most premature aging is caused by exposure to UV radiation from the sun, essentially making us look older, faster.

How the sun harms your skin:

UVA: penetrates through the epidermis to the dermis and plays a major role in accelerating photoaging effects (wrinkles, skin roughening, blotchiness, brown spots, poor skin tone, and sallowness), while contributing to skin cancer development.

UVB: penetrates skin at the surface (the epidermis) and is the primary cause of skin reddening and sunburn, while contributing to photoaging and playing a role in development of skin cancer.

Infrared (IR): Deepest skin penetration, associated with loss of skin elasticity. Induces production of free radicals and combined with UV rays, has been shown to inflict damage over time.

When you’re not wearing sunscreen daily to help preserve your skin’s health, UVA and UVB rays cause the following damage:

  • Skin reddening and sunburn
  • Brown spots (sun spots)
  • Loose and wrinkled skin
  • Dryness
  • Freckles
  • The appearance of red blood cells
  • Thinning of and yellow discoloration of the skin
  • Easy bruising
  • A “leathery” skin texture
  • Accelerated skin aging
  • Increased risk of skin cancer

A general misconception is that most people believe sun-damaged skin is a result of intentional sun-tanning. What is underestimated is the amount of incidental exposure that we acquire from outdoor activities and driving during the daytime, all year-round, not only in summer months. A sunscreen should be a minimum of 30 SPF, provide broad-spectrum protection (to protect against both UVA and UVB), and be worn year-round.

Aesthetically speaking, there are a multitude of medical treatments that do, to a certain extent, reverse the signs of skin aging. Understanding the harmful effects of the sun and modifying certain habits is key to preventing further damage. Oregon Coast Plastic surgery offers a sunscreen for every skin type, stop by and find yours for 25% off during the month of May. Schedule a free consult today and take your first step towards rejuvenating your skin!

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