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Wrinkle Treatment and More: What Sun Damage Does to Our Skin

Updated on May 2, 2013
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Hot summer days draw people out to have fun in the sun. We all love tanning, outdoor sports, swimming, bike riding, rollerblading, picnicking, and many other activities made more enjoyable in the warmth of the sun’s rays. But this exposure can eventually lead to wrinkle treatment and other anti-aging cures needed to reverse years of sun damage. Some treatments are for cosmetic purposes and some are purely medical. In any case, if you expose yourself to prolonged sunlight without the protection of a good sunscreen and a hat, your fun in the sun could have dire consequences.

How Sun Damage Leads to Wrinkle Treatment

How does the sun cause wrinkles? Ultraviolet rays from the sun have adverse affects on the maintenance and repair of our collagen. Too much sunlight causes abnormal elastin production, which leads to an overabundance of the enzyme metalloproteinases. While metalloproteinases normally helps to repair and rebuild sun damaged collagen fibers, too much of it has the opposite effect. Collagen fibers, thus, get broken down. In addition, UV rays cause the formation of free radicals, or molecules that are missing an electron. This leads to a chain response that eventually takes a toll on our skin cells. With sun damage hindering our ability to repair ourselves and produce healthy new skin, we begin to form wrinkles.

Wrinkle treatment comes in many forms. Some options include creams and cleansers containing alpha-hydroxy acid, laser skin rejuvenation, and cosmetic fillers like Botox and Restylane. But the best treatment is preventative.

How Sun Damage Causes Jowls

Jowls are the sagging skin that hangs from the jaw line on either side of the mouth. These begin to form naturally as we age and have a few major contributors. One of the biggest causes of jowl formation is genetics, which can’t be prevented. Another is the inevitable weakening of the fibrous connective tissue between our skin and muscles. And a third cause is simply gravity; as we lose tissue volume, gravity pulls the skin downward.

Sun damage comes into account with jowl formation because it speeds up the process similar to the way UV rays cause wrinkles. In addition to genetics, aging, and gravity, excessive sun exposure adds a whole new contributor to the battle against jowls. Too much sunlight causes skin to lose elasticity and sag prematurely, thus worsening the appearance of jowls over time. This unwanted, sagging skin can be treated through liposuction, facelift, or non-surgically with dermal fillers like Radiesse.

How Sun Damage Causes Age Spots and Moles

Our bodies naturally protect themselves from sunlight by producing melanin. This inherent sunscreen is responsible for expelling more than 99.9% of the UV radiation we absorb by dispelling it as heat. But too much melanogenesis can cause clustering of the melanocyte cells that make melanin. This eventually manifests as patchy pigmentation, known as age spots and sun spots, or definitive dark spots known as moles. Age spots remain flat while moles can be raised or textured. This grouping of protective melanin pigment can be reversed with hydroquinone cream for age spots, surgical excision for moles, or laser treatment for both.

Sun Damage and Skin Cancer

Sun damage causes more than just accelerated aging of the skin. It can also cause cancer. Most cases of skin cancer originate from prolonged exposure to UV rays from the sun or tanning beds. The type of cancer that develops depends on which cell has mutated, and will manifest in Basal cell cancer, Squamous cell cancer, or Melanoma. If you notice skin wounds, ulcers, and/or discolorations in the skin that do not heal, see a dermatologist. Also see a dermatologist if you notice a mole that has uneven borders or has changed shape, size, or color. It is always advised that you wear sunscreen and other sun protection to help prevent skin cancer.

Bottom Line

It is tempting to celebrate youth, fitness, health, and beauty by augmenting our appearance with a bronze glow and living life under the sun. But too much UV light causes accelerated aging. Every deep tan does serious damage to the underlying structure that sustains beautiful skin. In the end, the long-term risk is not worth the fleeting reward. Besides, there are other, safer ways to get a glowing tan. Take the alternative route and save yourself a future of wrinkle treatments, lasers, dermal fillers, or possibly something worse. And remember to protect yourself with a good sunscreen and a hat when prolonged sun exposure is unavoidable.

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