Summer is officially here, and with that come summer vacations and time spent outside – activities that are good for your well-being and health, but also mean more sun exposure that can accelerate signs of aging.
Rays of sunshine help our bodies make vitamin D, which is an important vitamin for maintaining healthy bones, a robust immune system, and mineral balance to name a few. But those rays can also be harmful, and sun exposure not only increases our risk of skin cancer, but also is a contributor to signs of aging such as brown spots and lines and wrinkles. So how can we enjoy summer and take advantage of the mood boosting and health benefits of sunlight without adding age to our skin? The easiest method is sunscreen, and there’s a plethora of high quality products from sunscreen specifically designed for the face to BB and CC creams that do triple duty.
Despite our best efforts at prevention, we may still get some darker discolorations, also known as age spots, sun spots, or liver spots – these are most common on the face, décolleté and hands. Thankfully, they can be reduced relatively painlessly and without significant downtime: BroadBand Light (BBL) or a version of Intense Pulsed Light (or IPL) treatments utilize a flash of bright light that selectively targets the darker discolorations on our skin, causing them to fade. This photothermal energy treatment can be tailored to also address redness from rosacea or broken capillaries/enlarged blood vessels in our face. When you need a little boost during maintenance skincare treatments, a couple of BroadBandLight (BBL) treatment sessions can help to restore a clearer and younger looking skin tone.
Cumulative sun exposure also accelerates the aging process in our skin, contributing to lines and wrinkles. While Botox and filler treatments to smoothen lines are great maintenance, a skin resurfacing treatment such as CO2 laser can help turn back the clock. The fractionated form of delivery employs the laser beam in treatment columns into the skin as opposed to full surface. The result is a shorter downtime, and the potential for a deeper treatment with fewer adverse risks. While there is an immediate improvement in skin texture and skin tone after the initial healing period, the full benefits of the laser become visible over the next several months as some skin tightening occurs, and our body lays down more collagen. The result is a renewal of your skin. What’s not to love?!
Whether or not you hide away indoors during the summer months or embrace the heat near lakes and pools, sunscreen paired with overall good health is your best bet at protecting your skin. But there are some options to undo some of the signs of aging that accumulate with time. And if you find yourself lamenting Houston’s summer heat, remember this silver lining: the humidity well known to Houston folk is gentler on our skin than a dry climate would be!
Dr. Daniela Burchhardt is a board-certified otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeon and a fellowship-trained facial plastic surgeon. She practices at the Yeung Institute in the Museum District and specializes in facial surgeries ranging from sinus surgery and rhinoplasty to face lifts and eyelid surgery. She also performs botox, filler and laser treatments. You can contact her at DrB@yeunginstitute.com or visit www.drdanielaburchhardt.com for more information.