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Highlands, NC 28741

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Photoaging: What It Is and What to Do About It

Photoaging: What It Is and What to Do About It

Skin aging, including that from the sun (photoaging), is inevitable. However, we do have some degree of control over how the skin changes over time and it is treatable. One of the fastest ways to age healthy, firm, youthful-looking skin is to spend too much time in the sun. Sunlight is made up of a spectrum of different rays. Some of these, the UVA rays, can even penetrate through a thick layer of clouds, penetrate into shade and buildings and cars, and are present all the time. These rays also get absorbed into the skin, causing cellular changes that result in what is called photoaging.

Photoaging is simply aging that is caused by exposure to UV light. This may come from sunlight and also from tanning beds. Signs of photoaging and their cause include:

  • Spots and hyperpigmentation. These may look like freckles, flat moles, large spots, or general blotchiness from injury of the melanocyte (the pigment producing cell).
  • Fine lines and wrinkles from loss of collagen thinning the support layer of the skin and from loss of elastin. This is increased past 30 years of age since the body normally stops making collagen and elastin about then.
  • Telangiectasia or increased red vascularity from the body constantly turning in its healing, which dilates blood vessels near the injury to bring in the immune/healing system. After continually doing this, the vessels just stay.
  • Precancerous lesions that look red and rough or scaly from more severe injury of the cells. These are referred to as actinic keratoses.

Photoaging affects any area where the UVA rays can reach, and they can penetrate most clothing. It is, therefore, also commonly seen on the hands, arms, shoulders, legs, back, chest, ears, nose, lips, and other parts of the face.

What to Do About Photoaging

Our best advice for our patients is to try and prevent photoaging by avoiding as much sun exposure as possible. Even on a cloudy day, it is wise to wear broad-spectrum zinc oxide sunscreen on all exposed areas and wear sun protective clothing. Zinc is the only practical sunblock as it need to be reapplied only if you wash or wipe it off. All the others last at most 2 hours, and only an hour if outdoors. You can make normal clothing sun protective by washing them in Rit Sun-Guard. See our Info Sheet.

Once you have photoaging damage, there are several ways to correct it, including:

  • Using quality skincare. Basic skin care includes an exfoliant to remove the excess cells caused by sun damage and time. It also includes a good sunblock to prevent further damage. To this, you can add ingredients like antioxidants like Vitamins-C to combat the breakdown of collagen caused by free-radicals. At 30, or if you have wrinkles,you add a retinol or tretinoin (Vitamin-A) and Obagi’s ELASTIderm to stimulate collagen and elastin production. If you have spots, we add hydroquinone. If you need all, the best option is Obagi’s Nu-Derm System.
  • Antioxidants are also consumable and are found in citrus fruits and leafy green vegetables.
  • Light chemical peels. Regardless of how pricy your skincare products are, they are of little value if there is a layer of dead skin cells blocking their absorption. Chemical peel treatment gently sloughs off this layer of cellular debris to reveal healthier, more uniform skin.
  • Microdermabrasion does the same thing as a light chemical peel, it removes the uppermost layer of nonvital skin cells. This procedure works through gentle ablation using microparticles that dislodge cellular debris so it can be suctioned away from the epidermis.
  • Microneedling can also help produce collagen and reduce light wrinkling.
  • Significant wrinkles can be treated by filler injection using a hyaluronic acid filler that will stimulate collagen production.
  • Leveling peels and laser smooth the skin and increase the collagen production. They are useful for severely wrinkled skin.
  • Ellipse IPL® treatment is a form of light therapy that breaks up red or brown discoloration in or beneath the skin. It can treat both brown pigmentation and red telangiectasia. IPL, intense pulsed light, is a popular treatment for photodamage due to its effectiveness with little to no downtime.

We can help you address photoaging with a treatment program tailored to your needs. Call our Highlands, NC office at (828) 526-3783 to schedule your consultation.

Is Photodynamic Therapy Right for You?

Photodynamic Therapy Highlands, NCIf you’ve become troubled by persistent acne, sun damage, mottled skin tone, rough texture, or precancerous spots, you may be wondering what you can do to get meaningful, lasting improvement. The answer might be photodynamic therapy. We are pleased to offer this nonsurgical treatment to patients of our Highlands, NC office. Here, we discuss what PDT is and why it might be just what your skin needs.

Photorejuvenation with ALA-PDT

ALA, aminolevulinic acid, is a liquid photosensitizer that soaks into the skin quickly after it is applied. This acid is specifically attracted to oil glands and sun-damaged tissue, including precancerous skin cells. The metabolic activity within these cells converts the ALA into porphyrin, a chemical that is highly sensitive to light. The application of ALA precedes the use of intense pulsed light therapy to elicit superheating in the cells that have converted ALA to porphyrin. The heating that occurs destroys the damaged cells and shrinks oil glands.

Benefits of Photodynamic Therapy

  • In addition to reduced hyperpigmentation from sun damage, patients often notice smoother skin texture and subtler lines and wrinkles.
  • PDT is an excellent acne treatment because it destroys acne-causing bacteria while simultaneously shrinking the sebaceous glands that produce oil.
  • Patients with rosacea may also achieve good results using PDT as a periodic therapy for maintenance.
  • Photodynamic therapy is revered as one of the best treatments for actinic keratosis, pre-cancerous spots on the skin.

Are You a Candidate for PDT?

Photodynamic therapy is typically suitable for people with acne, sun-damaged skin, moderate to severe rosacea, and actinic keratoses. Treatment is not appropriate for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding or for patients who have recently taken isotretinoin. Patients who have an active cold sore should postpone treatment to avoid a flare-up. Also, PDT should be scheduled during a time of year when sun exposure can be limited. Treatment should not be performed if one has recently tanned.

There are numerous ways in which the skin may be affected by sun, stress, and other factors. Fortunately, there are also several remedies that can address the problems that result. To learn more about photodynamic therapy, call (828) 526-3783.

Get Photo Ready with Photodynamic Therapy

Photodynamic Therapy Highlands, NCEven though the paparazzi may not be chasing you around like a Kardashian, we live in a day and age where it seems like you always have to be photo ready. Whether you’re out with friends snapping pictures for Instagram or spending the afternoon creating your new Facebook profile pic, it seems like you always have to be ready to have your picture taken. As one of the best ways to get picture ready, while also getting rid of hyperpigmentation, scarring, and acne, consider getting photodynamic therapy. Read on to learn more about this unique treatment.

What is Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)?

Photodynamic therapy or PDT is a state-of-the-art treatment that is ideal for getting rid of the skin conditions listed above. By placing aminolevulinic acid (ALA), a liquid photosensitizer, onto the targeted skin and then exposing it to intense pulse light (IPL), the ALA will be absorbed into the skin. Once soaked into the skin, ALA will work to target sun damaged skin, pre-cancerous skin cells, and over-productive oil glands. The results of the ALA with IPL is that the oil glands will shrink, and skin damaged, and precancerous cells will be destroyed.

What Does It Feel Like?

As a non-invasive treatment, photodynamic therapy shouldn’t be painful. Patients who get this treatment do say that they experience a mild to moderate amount of tingling, burning, or popping— which is similar to a chemical peel. However, that should only last a few minutes.

What Is Recovery Like?

Recovery from this therapy is similar to that of a chemical peel. You will be encouraged to refrain from spending any time in the sun because your skin will be vulnerable to burning. After a few days, your skin will start to peel and flake off— resembling a moderately severe sunburn. After the skin has flaked off, you will notice visibly smoother, less blemished skin.

Photodynamic therapy is an excellent way to get rid of mild skin imperfections. If you suffer from acne, sun damage, or scarring, you may want to consider this as a treatment option. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, contact our Center For Plastic Surgery office today!

Thank you for your business over the years! Dr. Buchanan is closing his practice and the Center For Plastic Surgery's last day open will be January 31, 2023.