Healthy Skin Clinic

Q: “As a child, I got lots of sunburn. Can my damaged skin be repaired?”

Q: “As a child, I got lots of sunburn. Can my damaged skin be repaired?”

A: This depends on which kind of damage you mean. Fine wrinkles, scars and brown and red spots in the top layer on the skin (the epidermis) can be greatly diminished with exfoliating procedures. Sunburns cause freckling, wrinkling, pre-cancerous skin lesions and skin cancers later in life.

Exfoliation can be accomplished with various chemicals (like retinoids and glycolic acids) or physical techniques like microdermabrasion and laser. All of these techniques must be used skillfully to avoid skin irritation which can cause scarring and more pigment changes. The skin must be healthy in order to regenerate itself, so a good skin care program is essential before attempting exfoliation. Also, the skin can be more vulnerable to sun damage after these procedures, so strict use of sunscreen is a must. Look at a non-sun exposed area like your inner arm, to see the color and texture you skin would be if all the damage were repaired.

Damage involving a deeper layer of the skin is harder to address. Acne scarring, large brown spots, and deep wrinkles are more difficult to improve with exfoliation. For deep wrinkles, Botox and collagen injections are used. Large brown spots require beaching agents as well as exfoliation to correct, and they will readily return if area is exposed to the sun or the skin is irritated or inflamed.

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