Reverse Sun Damage - - Archived

This fall, take back your youthful, clear complexion with tried-and-true medical spa treatments.

10-15 Beauty_Sun Damage_webOK, so you didn’t religiously slather on your sunscreen this summer. And even if you did dab a little dollop on before heading outdoors, you probably didn’t reapply after a few hours like the directions told you to, did you? Uh huh. Thought so.

Rather than scold you for being a bad little sun worshipper (you already know how important sunscreen is because you’ve heard it like a gazillion times from your doctor, your mom, and a bevy of flawlessly complected women on the morning news), let’s focus on what to do to get rid of those pesky spots and fine lines creeping up all over your face.

Yes, thank goodness, it is possible to reverse sun damage. So let’s take a look at a few ways to do it. Keep in mind that a dermatologist might choose to prescribe a bleach or brightener, Retin-A, or some other ointment or cream, but we’re going to focus on more aggressive ways to eradicate the ravages of the summer sun.

Fraxel Fractionated Laser

Got fine lines and sun spots and want them gone pronto? Then you need a fractional laser. “The quickest way to get rid of sun damage is laser resurfacing (Fraxel),” said Dr. Valerie Goldburt, a board-certified dermatologist at Advanced Dermatology, with locations in New York and New Jersey. Fractional lasers such as Fraxel heat up the deeper layers of the skin to boost collagen production, and they can even out unwanted pigment from skin. This treatment might be painful and will require some downtime. “The results are better though, and often just one treatment can fix most issues,” Goldburt said.

IPL (Intense Pulsed Light)

“These treatments are great for reducing sun spots specifically, as they cause the spots to turn dark and fall off after a couple days,” said Anthony Youn, M.D., FACS, a spokesperson for the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. “Unlike fractional lasers, there is no downtime or pain with IPL.” IPL will require more treatments (generally between four and six sessions for best results), but IPL will be less invasive and will cost considerably less than Fraxel. Many professionals will recommend a combination of IPL and chemical peels or microdermabrasion for best results.

Chemical Peels

Some people have experienced excellent results with chemical peels alone. “Chemical peels are great, relatively inexpensive ways to rejuvenate the skin,” Dr. Youn said. “If you don’t want to spend the money on laser treatments, which are typically expensive due to the cost of the laser itself, then chemical peels can be a good alternative.” There are all kinds of chemical peels from mild to extreme, all of which work to exfoliate the skin and cause the underlying layers to tighten due to a chemical reaction, not heat, explained Dr. Youn. “They are great for removing dark spots and improving fine lines, but to get impressive changes, there must be some downtime with peeling.”

On a side note (here comes that you’d-better-wear-sunscreen-or-risk-burning-up warning again), if you get any of these treatments done, you seriously do not want to risk sun exposure for quite a while afterward because it could cause extra pigmentation. Sounds awful, right? “I recommend doing these treatments when it’s later in the year and there’s less possibility for sun exposure,” Dr. Goldburt said.


Ever wonder what you would look like if you didn’t use sunscreen? New York based board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Stephen Greenberg, who has been featured on such national programs as Good Morning America, Extra, and Access Hollywood, presents patients with one vision of their skin if they continue down the path they are on. This is achieved through the help of the VISIA system, which uses computer imagery to age a person 5, 10, or even 20 years. From here, Dr. Greenberg can see what areas of the skin need the most help and in what ways they’re damaged, be it sun damage, wrinkles, or loss of collagen. He can then prescribe the best treatment plan, which (guess what?) includes the preventative measures of the daily use of sunscreen. So slather up!

By LaRue V. Baber

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