1. Most of the characteristics that we associate with an aged appearance actually result from long-term sun exposure. These unwanted changes include extra blood vessels on our face (commonly referred to as broken blood vessels), brown spots, enlarged pores, and most distressingly wrinkles and sagging skin in sun exposed areas. Proof that these changes result from long-term sun exposure can be easily acquired when looking at sun-damaged and sun protected skin in the same individual. It is very difficult to differentiate sun protected skin from a seventy year old from sun protected skin taken from a twenty year old, when looking at it under the microscope, but skin taken from sun damaged sites tells the true story.
2. The changes that we associate with aging truly do result from long-term sun exposure, and smoking contributes to these changes. Evidence of this is the fact that most people are aged more severely on the side of their face that faces the window in the car. Thus, drivers will be more aged on the left side while passengers will be more aged on the right side. This also illustrates the fact that skin aging is a daily process that sadly does not occur on the beach, but more often in the car.
This is because we spent the majority of our time outside, in the car. Patients with significant sun-damage around the mouth are often smokers, and I can identify these people before they tell me their smoking history. This is not, as commonly believed, due to pursing ones lips to draw upon a cigarette. Instead, these wrinkles are from the formation of free radicals, which occur when smoke is absorbed directly into the skin. In addition to free radicals causing skin damage as a result of smoking, approximately 50% of sun-damage is due to the formation of free radicals in the skin. This damaged skin then becomes furrowed where our facial expression lines move our skin. If we didn’t smoke or never went into the sun, we could move our mouths, foreheads, and brows as much as we like without getting permanent creases in our skin. These creases only occur because our skin becomes permanently changed by long-term sun-exposure and smoking.
3. Because the sun can not only age our skin, but also make us more likely to get side-effects from laser treatment, sun avoidance during a series of laser treatments and sun-protection afforded by wearing an SPF 30 or above sunscreen EVERY DAY is critical. This is STEP ONE before starting any laser treatments. In addition, using a topical alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) cream can prepare skin for laser treatments. They do this by slightly decreasing over-pigmented areas, reducing the dead skin layer on the surface of our skin (both of which can interfere with the laser light reaching its target), and by increasing cell turnover and collagen production in the skin. The last part is important for getting the most out of rejuvenating laser treatments.
I use many types of lasers in combination to improve the signs of skin photoaging. Multiple lasers are required because the different effects of long-term sun-exposure require specific treatments.
1. Broken (extra) blood vessels
2. Freckles and other brown spots
3. Enlarged pores
5. Sagging Skin
Lasers can improve all 5 of the signs of skin aging, although sagging skin is the hardest of the signs to improve. Surgical intervention works best for severely sagging skin. In the case of wrinkling, I emphasize that wrinkles will be IMPROVED not REMOVED in most cases, but with the addition of a topical treatment regimen every day, results can be quite impressive.
Please also visit The Patient’s Guide to Collagen located at www.collagen.org. The Patient’s Guide is an informational resource for skin rejuvenation treatment options, pricing and provides a list of pre-qualified providers nationwide. To answer your specific questions or schedule a consultation, call Dr. Bernstein today at 610-645-5551.
Dr. Bernstein was the FIRST physician in the WORLD to get the Candela V-Beam/Perfecta laser and has published extensively on its use for the treatment of rosacea, spider veins, port-wine stains, scars, and facial rejuvenation.
Dr. Bernstein performed a research study for Solta, makers of the Fraxel Dual, to further knowledge of this innovative treatment. The Fraxel Dual is one of Dr. Bernstein’s leading treatments for photodamage and acne scarring, and is the market leader in fractionated or pixelated lasers.
Dr. Bernstein was the first physician in the United States to get the Fraxel Permea Clear and Brilliant to treat patients with wrinkles.