Many of us are aware that the sun causes the skin to age prematurely. This is also known as photoaging. Today researchers are still unclear about the exact processes of how the sun causes wrinkles. But even through a general understanding, we can understand the basic connection between prolonged sun exposure and skin damage. This knowledge is helpful for making informed decisions about the skin protection and wrinkle treatment.
TYPES OF UV RADIATION
There are three types of wavelengths that make up ultra violet rays:
- UVC= 100-290nm
- UVA= 320-400nm
UVC rays from the sun are absorbed by the ozone layer. Our skin is typically not exposed to these wavelengths. And this is why we don’t see sunscreen labels that specify protection from UVC radiation.
UVB rays are more prevalent during the summer time. They affect the epidermis and are responsible for causing sunburns.
Longer wavelengths are less intense. Because UVA rays are longer than UVB rays, their damaging effects on the skin were thought to be minor. However, we now know that UVA radiation causes significant damage to the skin because these wavelengths penetrate into deeper layers.
Furthermore, exposure to these rays remains constant throughout the year, as opposed to being more available during the warmer months.
HOW SUNLIGHT CAUSES WRINKLES
UV radiation from the sun affects three types of biochemical processes in the skin:
- Collagen repair and maintenance
- Formation of free radicals
- DNA repair and maintenance
Sunlight and Collagen
UV rays damage collagen fibers and increase the rate at which abnormal forms of elastin develops. During this accumulation process, enzymes called metalloproteinases are produced in greater amounts.
The normal role of this enzyme is to heal the skin from sun damage by repairing and creating new collagen fibers.
However, at concentrations that are higher than average, aberrations in the functioning of the metalloprotineases start to occur. They start to actually break down collagen fibers which help maintain the skin’s firmness. Instead of helping to create healthy collagen, they produce solar scars, made of collagen fibers arranged in a disorderly configuration.
The ongoing repetition of these processes causes wrinkles.
Sunlight and Free Radicals
UV rays cause oxygen molecules to become unstable by losing an electron and converting into free radicals. These molecules then steal electrons from other sources to regain their stable state. These other sources then become unstable and look for electrons from other molecules.
These destructive processes cause damage to cells. One example is activating the metalloproteinases that break down collagen. Other processes include damage to DNA, which impedes the skin’s ability to produce healthy skin.
Sunlight and DNA
There is an enzyme in our bodies called T4 endonuclease 5 (T4N5) which is supposed to repair damaged DNA. However research shows that UV radiation damages the functioning of this enzyme.
WRINKLE TREATMENT OPTIONS
Although sunscreen can help prevent photodamage, it cannot eliminate the wrinkles that have formed from excessive exposure to the sun. Sun damaged skin can be affectively addressed through the intervention of cosmetic lasers.
Fraxel Dual uses the 1550nm wavelength which is ideal for penetrating the dermal layer beneath the surface of the skin to treat deep lines. The energy from this laser heats the skin’s tissue in a way that instigates a healing response, forming new and healthy collagen fibers.
This 1550nm wavelength can also be used on patients with darker skin, since it is not easily absorbed by melanin. Patients of darker skin tones will have more melanin present. This high concentration of melanin will absorb other wavelengths very readily and cause permanent scaring.
This Los Angeles patient underwent Fraxel Dual and Spectra laser treatment to help correct wrinkles and sun damage from years of excessive UV ray exposure.
The Spectra laser uses the 1064nm wavelength to help exfoliate the skin with comparable results to a chemical peel. However lasers have evolved to become safer with the ability to deliver more predictable outcomes compared to other topical treatments.
A photoenhancer is applied to the skin as a lotion to help the laser penetrate the skin to cleanse pores and promote the remodeling of collagen structures.
Fraxel SR 1500
Fraxel SR 1500 works in a similar fashion to Fraxel Dual. However the 1500 nm wavelength is better suited for milder forms of photodamage.
Advancements in laser technology make it possible to reverse the signs of sun damage to the skin. Fraxel systems can precisely treat the damaged areas, leaving healthy skin unaffected. This allows for faster recovery and minimal downtime.
Patients in the Los Angeles area who are interested in the best wrinkle treatment options are advised to consult with a board certified dermatologist.