Most of us who live here on the coast have an immense love for sunshine. We may not lie on the beach for hours at a time (at least not anymore), but we all know it’s difficult to avoid the call of the sunshine and all of its warming rays. The problem with these rays is that they are ultraviolet light (UV). Ultraviolet light penetrates the epidermis, the upper layer of the skin, to affect the foundational cells of the dermis, the deeper layer of skin where new cells are made.
The effect of UV light on the cells in the dermis impact pigment. Some of the cells in the skin, the melanocytes, are stimulated to produce more pigment than normal when UV light is absorbed. This is because the cells are trying to protect the skin from damage. What ends up happening is that some of the increased melanin that is produced in the dermis and epidermis clumps together. These clumps become sunspots.
Sunspots can form on the face, neck, chest, shoulders, arms, even the ears and legs. Once they appear, they don’t tend to disappear through normal cellular regeneration. To reverse the effects of sun damage, dermatologists and laser specialists look to the light.
The Benefits of Laser and Light Treatment for Sun Damage
Laser treatments for sun damage deliver a particular wavelength of light to the skin. Light treatment, known as IPL, delivers intense pulsed light of varying wavelengths to the skin. In each scenario, the light that gets absorbed breaks apart the clumps of melanin that are causing spots. Depending on which modality is selected (laser or IPL), multiple treatment sessions may be needed to completely dismantle accumulated melanin. Each scenario, though, offers significant benefits, such as:
- Mild recovery process.
- Increased cellular energy in the treatment area.
- Increased cellular energy leads to more collagen and elastin.
- Improved tissue healing response.
- Reduced inflammation.
- Increased circulation through the treatment area.
- Enhanced lymph drainage, reducing tissue swelling.
Laser and Light Therapies Gently Remove Sun Damage
Although laser skin resurfacing has been around for many years, there is still a bit of mystery around the process. Some people worry that the procedure is painful or that recovery will involve intense peeling. This is rarely the case anymore. Laser devices are much gentler than the conventional CO2 lasers that were used years ago. Now, patients may experience minor redness and stinging after laser treatment and mild swelling that resolves within about a week.