Reverse the effects of sun damaged skin

Sun causes most skin damage

by Professor Harryono Judodihardjo, medical director of the Cellite Clinic in Cardiff and vice president of the British Association of Cosmetic Doctors (BACD).

A new cosmetic industry survey has revealed that sun damage is the most significant cause of ageing in patients treated by cosmetic doctors in the UK.

This is a sobering thought, bearing in mind that our temperatures are now set to remain in the high 20s and early 30s until September.

Despite the high profile information campaigns highlighting the dangers of over exposure to sunlight, the message that pale is interesting hasn’t truly caught on.

And in the short-term, it’s easy to see how basking in the sunshine and looking sun-kissed can seem desirable.

However, over a period of time, the effects are not so appealing, as the sun is the main culprit in causing premature skin ageing. In short, those who soak up the sun’s rays on a regular basis look much older than they need to by middle age.

My personal experiences in treating clients is that a substantial proportion of the symptoms of skin ageing –  fine lines and wrinkles, age spots, sagging skin and a poor complexion – can be attributed to UV light.

There are two types of ageing that affect the body.

Intrinsic ageing is part of the body’s natural decline.

It starts as early as the mid 20s when the skin’s collagen production slows down, elastin, the substance that allows our skin to spring back into shape, has less bounce, and dead skin cells fail to shed as quickly as used to (resulting in duller looking skin).

However, although all this starts at quite a young age, the process is slow and gradual – what really accelerates the skin’s ageing is sun damage or photoageing.

Without protection from the sun’s rays even a few minutes exposure on a daily basis over the years can cause noticeable changes to the skin.

With repeated exposure to the sun, the skin loses the ability to repair itself and damage accumulates, resulting in the common signs of age such as sun spots, sagging and wrinkles.

And, of course, most seriously of all, the sun can cause skin cancer – including the potentially deadly malignant melanoma.

While it’s impossible to stop the march of time entirely, we can slow things down significantly by limiting our exposure to the sun’s damaging rays.

It’s also important to remember that UV light is still there even on a cloudy day, and during the winter months. Which is why I advise my clients to wear sunscreen year-round.

I recommend a high protection sunscreen (a minimum of SPF 15, although SPF 30 or above is preferable).

But sunscreen alone can’t protect us adequately, which is why it should be used in combination with a broad-brimmed hat, sunglasses, a long-sleeved T-shirt and the motivation to keep out of the sun when it’s at its strongest between 11-3.

If the damage is already done it is possible to reverse some of the effects with a variety of non-surgical cosmetic treatments.

Chemical peels, microdermabrasion and fractional laser resurfacing will improve the quality and appearance of the skin’s surface; injecting botulinum toxin (commonly known as Botox) can help reduce the impact of wrinkles; injectable fillers can plump up gaunt areas around the nose and mouth, and powerful serums will diminish the appearance of age spots and freckles.

But, as with anything, prevention is better than cure, so, as far as you possibly can, limit your exposure to the sun.


Further press information from: Nerys Lloyd-Pierce 02920 343 121/07701 007 128, email: