The Latest in Sun-Damage Reversal and Protection

Skin Care

Prevention is your best defence when it comes to sun damage, but there are solutions to help address its effects on the skin. Photo: Slim Aarons / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Advances in sun-damage reversal treatments have come a long way over the last 20 years. “The tools we use now are less invasive and more synergistic with a patient’s skin,” says Dr. Lisa Kellett, dermatologist and founder of DLK on Avenue Cosmetic Dermatology and Laser Clinic in Toronto. For the face, Kellett employs the EthereaMX laser, which uses multi-wavelength technology to target brown and red spots.

“At the same time, we use the dual-mode laser to address photo-aging, [or sun damage, to the layperson] with a resurfacing action that treats lines, and helps to increase collagen production in the skin.” The multiple modalities add up to a more time- and cost-efficient treatment for the patient, usually done over two to three sessions. And speaking of time, what about the downtime post treatment? “It’s a bit of visible flaky redness for a few days,” says Kellett, “but we see an improvement of fine lines, less redness and brown spots, while the skin is healthier, with a more even skin tone.”

The neck and chest area gets a treatment all its own. “We inject beauty boosters: very small portions of hyaluronic acid into the skin on the chest and the neck to address photo-aging and fine lines and stimulate collagen,” says Kellett. The chest, she adds, ages faster than the face, as does the neck, because we tend to neglect applying SPF in those places. “Because photo-aging does not just show up as a line or a wrinkle, we call it a field treatment; we apply it to the entire area.” It’s a newer approach, treating the whole area by injecting the hyaluronic acid into the skin, using a gun-like tool that features microneedles at its tip, loaded with the juice.

Hands, too, again often neglected, can benefit from skin boosters. Kellett injects dermal filler, in the form of hyaluronic acid, into the interdigital spaces to improve and smooth the skin’s appearance.

One thing Kellett also warns of: precancerous spots. Look out for scaly, often reddish pink spots that don’t go away. “It’s not eczema or a dry, rough patch if it doesn’t go away after a flare up,” she advises. “These types of spots can develop into something more dangerous.”

Kellett uses photodynamic therapy, which is more preventive medicine, as these spots can be microscopic. “A liquid drug is applied over the entire surface, and we allow it to incubate for about an hour,” she says of the process. “During that hour, the drug is taken in by the precancerous cell; then a blue light laser hits the drug, and finally, the precancerous cell is treated and removed by the combination of the light and the drug.” It also replaces the use of more volatile liquid nitrogen as preventive medicine. There’s no pain, she adds. “Most patients read a book for an hour, and then we shine the light.”

 

Get Sun Ready

skin care

We can’t say this enough — and neither can your dermatologist. Adding an SPF to your daily skin care routine can help protect the skin from harmful, damage-causing UV rays, dark spots and discolouration and premature aging and wrinkles. And, depending on exposure, this goes for your body as well. We repeat, apply every day, rain or shine.

Stay out of the sun as much as possible and skip the tanning bed, as it doesn’t create that proverbial protective “base.” When the skin exhibits a “tan,” it is, in a sense, an alarm bell, and the body’s largest organ’s protection mechanism. “A tan ramps up the melanocyte cells in the skin,” says Kellett. “It triggers the melanocytes to produce melanin (or dark pigment). It’s a protective response, but to clarify, it’s not protection. It’s the skin’s indication of injury.”

Some topicals, such as Institut Esthederm’s Paris Bronz Impulse Face and Body Spray (esthederm.ca) and Laboratoire Dr Renaud Cell’Defense Tan Enhancing Veil Face & Body (ldrenaud.com), may help fortify skin to adapt to the sun by prepping it to be as healthy as possible — before taking to the sun full on (ready for long days on the cottage dock, anyone?)

Begin applying these products like a moisturizer all over the body at least two weeks prior and, yes, we’re saying this again, in conjunction with your sunscreen that should be worn daily, applied at least 20 minutes before heading out at anytime during the summer.

A version of this article appeared in the June/July issue with the headline “Treatment and Tech,” p. 80.