Can You Reverse Past Sun Damage?

If There’s no Such a Thing as a Healthy Tan, Can We Reverse the Damage Done & Still Enjoy the Sun?

The sun is the most idolized object in the history of mankind. Great civilizations have revered the sun as it

gives light, vision, warmth, growth, power, and life. Holidays, calendars, festivals, temples, constellations, and religions revolve around the position and powers of its magnificence. Today, it remains an object of beauty as we delight in watching the sunset, begin our day with sunrise, and spend hours intoxicated by its rays as they dance upon our bodies. It is a simple truth that life on earth could not survive without this glorious ball of light; however, the evils of sun exposure must be respected.


The sun emits two forms of invisible ultraviolet radiation (UVR) that cause skin cancer and premature aging. UVA rays, the “aging” rays, are tricky as they penetrate deeply causing serious damage with little visible evidence of sunburn. Ninety five percent of UVA rays penetrate the ozone, windows & windshields, and are dangerously present year round. The majority of UVB, the “burning” rays, are filtered by the ozone but their peaks during warmer months are heathen to our skin causing first, second, and even third degree burns. Both forms of UVR generate oxygen free radicals that mutate our skin’s DNA, destroy collagen & elastin, and cause immunosupression that weakens our skin’s ability to repair itself. These harmful rays cause the skin to age creating wrinkles, age spots, dilated capillaries, and leathery rough skin. In fact, wrinkles that we call “expression lines” are almost entirely due to the sun. Despite this information, many people “just can’t seem to stop” tanning. Research has shown that like nicotine, UV rays are addictive as they stimulate the pleasurable release of endorphins in the brain.

This indisputable link between sun exposure, prematurely aged skin, and skin cancer is becoming increasingly more like the link between cigarettes and lung cancer. Skin cancer is the number one form of cancer in the United States and accounts for more than 50% of all malignancies. At a time when most cancers are on the decline, all types of skin cancers are steeply rising.


Furthermore, skin cancers that historically cursed people over the age of 50, are now afflicting people in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s. In the midst of this skin cancer epidemic we are seeing 1 million cases of non-melanoma (Squamous Cell and Basal Call Carcinoma) and over 100,000 cases of melanoma per year. Melanoma deaths in the US occur at the rate of more than one life per hour.


Despite the alarming increase in skin cancer, the growth of the tanning industry is staggering. In the US, tanning salons generate $5 billion annually, up from $1 billion in 1992. Possibly due to misconceptions that (1) tanning beds provide a safer and better controlled tan, (2) that a “pre-tan” protects us from sun damage, or (3) that tanning is healthy because it stimulates Vitamin D production. In fact, the total dose of UVR from a tanning bed is about five times that of natural sunlight, such that 20 minutes in a tanning bed equals to 2-3 hours in the noontime sun. Furthermore, maximal Vitamin D3 required by the body is formed by spending less than 5 minutes in the sun, by drinking 2 glasses of milk or orange juice, or by taking one standard vitamin tablet.


Unfortunately most of us spend our teens and twenties in blissful ignorance drenched in baby oil chasing that “healthy glow”. By the time we realize what we’ve done, usually in our 30s or 40s, the damage has already etched its way into our skin. Fortunately, today’s science & technology offers a ray of hope as trained physicians can erase decades of sun damage, wrinkles, and early skin cancers with quick non-surgical procedures like Photodynamic Therapy and Fraxel™.


PDT (Photodynamic Therapy) has emerged as the preferred treatment for pre-cancerous lesions, and early non-melanoma skin cancers. One to two treatments cure 95-100% of abnormal lesions and offers phenomenal cosmetic benefits by dramatically improving age spots, fine lines, facial veins, pore size, skin texture, and even acne. Fraxel Re:pair CO2 laser has revolutionized the treatment of wrinkles, sagging skin, and sun damage. Microscopic columns of laser energy delivered into the skin’s dermis destroy old unhealthy cells causing them to be replaced with fresh, healthy new ones. A single 20 minute treatment causes immediate contraction and tightening of the skin and formation of abundant, new collagen. Treated skin becomes supple, youthful, and radiant making your skin ten years younger, on the inside and out. Fraxel allow us to tighten deep wrinkles and sagging skin preventing the need for a facelift. It provides dramatic results without the prolonged down time or complications seen with other resurfacing techniques.


You can also find a bewildering array of anti-aging products and promises at makeup counters, on television, and in magazines. My advice; if you want real progress, don’t buy into these extravagant claims. There are only a few topical ingredients that have proven preventative or age-reversing benefit.


Physician prescribed Retinoic acid is a must have, as it repairs DNA, and softens fine lines, pores, and sunspots. Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) & E (Alpha Tocopherol) containing serums like Is Clinical’s Super Serum, scavenge free radicals to heal and protect the skin. These, along with daily glycolic acids work to slowly reduce fine lines and age spots, soften skin texture and stimulate the production of new collagen. Lastly, the single most important product available to prevent wrinkles and skin cancer is a sun block with an SPF of at least 30 containing Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide. These are the only physical blocking agents that protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Sunscreen should be applied liberally enough to form a film (one ounce for the whole body) and, whether it’s water proof or water resistant, it should be reapplied every 2 hours or after swimming/sweating. The skin is our largest and most visible organ; cherish it and invest in it now so that you needn’t spend the rest of your life only wishing you could reverse the ravages of Sun and time. Remember, there’s no such thing as a “healthy tan”, and an ounce of sunscreen is worth a pound of cure!


Kimberly Moskowitz, MS, MD

Cosmetic Vein & Laser Center

12238 Panama City Beach PKWY

(850) 233-0264

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Posted in: Fraxel Articles - Getting Rid of Wrinkles with Fraxel Laser, Fraxel Repair Laser

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