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How to Choose the Best Sun Damaged Skin Treatments

Sun exposure on your skin can have health benefits such as vitamin D synthesis, which is important for your overall health and especially your immune system. Excessive sun exposure can result in sunburn, premature skin aging, skin discoloration, and skin cancer. I’ll talk about how I help my patients who have cosmetic concerns about sun damage.

Every day at my office, I do a variety of cosmetic surgeries such as facelifts, advanced eyelid surgery, and facial implants. Non-surgical procedures I perform include lasers, radiofrequency, PRP, PRF, microneedling, and injectables like hyaluronic acid fillers, and botulinum toxin like Botox.

Let’s go over some fundamental sun exposure terminology. We’re all familiar with suntans.

What Suntans and Sunburns Really Do to Your Skin

A suntan is the body’s reaction to increased ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. The skin produces more melanin, a pigment that absorbs excess UV rays. A sunburn occurs when the skin is exposed to more UV radiation than it can repair. For skin health, prevention is the key, with sunblock as well as sun protective clothing to avoid excessive sun damage.
woman walking on the beach
While the obvious effects of suntans and sunburns are temporary, the cumulative impacts can be evident in your skin for a long time. People who have had frequent and prolonged sun exposure may develop lines and wrinkles prematurely. Identical twin studies demonstrate that the sibling with more sun exposure had much more aged skin and wrinkles. Even long-distance truck drivers had more wrinkles and sagging skin on the side of their face and body closest to the window. Sun exposure may speed up collagen loss in the skin, resulting in premature aging, commonly known as photoaging.

Treatments That Stimulate Skin Repair and Rejuvenation

There are various methods for stimulating and increasing collagen in the skin. Collagen is a protein in the skin that is naturally synthesized by the body from the nutrients we ingest, and it is used to heal and repair damage such as burns and wounds. We can induce the body to produce collagen in specific locations by inflicting controlled damage. One of the principles underlying therapies such as lasers, radiofrequency, and microneedling is to improve skin texture, quality, and tone with the controlled injury paradigm.

collagen response of fractional laser treatment illustration


With little to no downtime, laser skin toning with a Nd:YAG laser can stimulate collagen and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Another example is the Smooth Eye technique, which uses a long pulse Erbium laser to safely regenerate sun-damaged thin eyelid skin. A simple caveat to remember is that it is the doctor’s judgment, expertise, and experience that determines results or leads to issues. A laser is a tool that, in the hands of an expert practitioner, may be used safely and with low risk.

under eye wrinkles treatment with laser


There are different non-heating methods for inducing collagen for sun-damaged skin. Platelet-rich plasma, or PRP, for example, can induce collagen in the places where it is applied. PRP is a concentration of wound healing factors from the patient’s own blood that stimulate new collagen formation.

PRP treatments are frequently combined with laser or radiofrequency sessions to limit thermal exposure to the skin, while maximizing collagen production. I occasionally combine PRP with microneedling to help with additional collagen induction, and to speed up healing after the microneedling procedure. PRP combined with hyaluronic acid is used in a no-downtime technique called Skin Boosting to restore skin quality impacted by UV exposure.

microneedling with platelet-rich plasma for crows feet

Advanced Treatments for Solar Lentigos

A highly visible sign of sun damaged skin is a condition called solar lentigos, or solar dyschromias. Solar lentigos can be treated in the same manner as laser tattoo removal is done, with pigment disrupted by a non-ablative laser such as a Q-Switched laser. The laser treatment breaks down the pigment into smaller pieces, which the body may subsequently metabolize.

solar lentigo before and after laser treatment for Wrinkles
before and after solar lentigo and laser treatment for wrinkles

What is the best treatment for sun damage?

As we all know, when it comes to sun damage, the ideal treatment is prevention. We have many tools to help people enhance their sun damaged skin. There’s no shortage of hype in the aesthetic field, which has many people literally bouncing from one device to another. In my opinion, as in health and wellness, a proper evaluation, and a customized strategy can be the key to help you look your best.

Sun Damaged Skin Treatments in Manhattan NYC, and Garden City Long Island, New York

Dr Amiya Prasad is a Diplomate of the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery and aFellowship-trained oculofacial plastic and reconstructive surgeon. He’s been in practice in New York City, and Long Island for over 25 years. To schedule an appointment, fill out the contact form below, or you may call any of our offices at (212) 265-8877 for Manhattan, New York City; (516) 742-4636 for Garden City, Long Island; or (703) 356-1336 for Vienna, Virginia.

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