You know that sunscreen is important and that tanning isn’t good for you, but sometimes you forget to protect your skin during a day at the beach or playing in the park. That’s all it takes for the harmful rays of the sun to penetrate your skin and damage the essential structure.
You may not see the effects for a year or more, but when they show up, you’ll wish you’d taken precautions. The good news is that we can detect the damage even when it’s not visible to the naked eye, and we can treat it before it progresses into serious skin problems.
Our team of skin experts at Aesthetic Surgery Center in San Francisco, California — led by renowned facial plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Macdonald — offers several solutions to mild, moderate, and severe sun damage.
One of our most popular treatments is a chemical peel, which we customize to address your unique set of skin concerns. Before we unpack the various types of peels we offer, let’s take a look at how the sun affects your skin.
What UV rays do to your skin
The sun emits two types of harmful ultraviolet rays: UVA and UVB. These UV rays contain radiation that can do some serious damage to your cells.
UVA rays have the potential to affect all three layers of your skin — especially the dermis, where you have lots of collagen and elastin fibers that give your skin its structure and resilience. Overexposure can also lead to burst capillaries that cause visible spider veins.
UVB rays affect the epidermis, or outer layer of your skin, causing pigmentation changes that you recognize as a tan. What’s really happening is that the melanin in your skin jumps into action, multiplying and rushing to the scene to protect you — it’s your body’s defense mechanism to save your skin from damage.
When melanin clumps together, you get spots that look like large freckles, sometimes called sun spots or age spots. Other signs of sun damage include:
- Dry skin
- Sagging skin
- Uneven texture and tone
- Redness or blotchiness
- Spider veins
The good news is that our chemical peels can resolve many of the problems caused by sun damage, and we have special formulas that address different issues.
How chemical peels clear away sun damage
The basic concept behind chemical peels is simple — use acids to loosen and remove dead skins to reveal a fresher new layer of skin underneath. The stronger the acids used, the deeper the treatment goes. The most commonly used chemicals include:
- Alpha hydroxy acid (AHA)
- Beta hydroxy acid (BHA)
- Trichloroacetic acid (TCA)
These ingredients make up our popular PCA SKIN®️ peel which smooths and softens fine wrinkles, evens out your skin tone, and rejuvenates your skin.
For skin types that are thicker and oily, especially those with cystic acne, we add hydroquinone, a skin lightening agent, and resorcinol, an antiseptic that fights infection and breaks down skin that’s rough and scaly. This is a great option for heavy sun damage.
For people with darker skin tones, we offer the Sensi Peel® to ensure a safe, yet effective, way to lift the outer layer of skin without causing unwanted pigmentation changes. Sensi Peel is great for getting rid of blotchy, red skin as well as blemishes.
And if you have sensitive skin, we have a peel for you, too. Our MicroPeel is safe for just about every skin type and color, and it gently exfoliates your skin to unclog pores and lift off the dead skin cells that cause acne outbreaks and dullness.
How to choose the right chemical peel
When you come to the Aesthetic Surgery Center, we guide you through the process and help you make an informed choice. After we professionally analyze your skin and discuss your aesthetic goals, we let you know which options can help you reach them safely and effectively.
When you’re ready to undo the sun damage that happened this summer and in summers past, contact us by phone or online and set up a consultation with Dr. Macdonald to find out more about how chemical peels can rejuvenate your skin.