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Goodbye Sunshine, Goodbye Sun Damage...

It’s time to wave goodbye to the summer, and embrace the winter again - yes, I know, I’m always surprised at the speed it creeps up on us every year. As we put away our sandals and summer wear, it’s the perfect time to start the conversation about any sun damage that you might have picked up over the years.

I’m sure, if you’re one of my regular readers, that you already know how important it is to use a high SPF, good quality sunscreen daily, but if you want a fresh, clear and toned complexion ready for next year, there’s more to be done, and I’m ready to help at my skin clinic in Suffolk.

Too much of a good thing?

Sun can be great for our skin and mood - regular exposure to sunlight helps to keep the vitamin D3 topped up and we’re all prone to depleted levels of this sunshine vitamin if we live in the UK. The problem is, we can get too much of a good thing.

A study from 2013 found that the clinical signs of aging were all influenced by sun exposure, and that UV exposure was apparently responsible for a shocking 80% of visible facial aging signs - including hyperpigmentation.

The reason for the hyperpigmentation that often shows up because of sun damage is that exposure to the sun’s UVA rays causes pigment cells (melanocytes) to produce more melanin. This results in a tan, but can also stimulate melanin overproduction, which produces dark patches (age spots). Long-term and unprotected overexposure to UVA can also reduce the skin's ability to make collagen, leaving it less elastic and with the dreaded ‘sagging’.

Protect and repair from sun damage Obviously, the best way to protect skin from sun damage is to protect it by using a broad spectrum high-SPF sunscreen daily and stay out of the sun on bright sunny days (which we’ll be seeing less of for a few months, but still don’t skip the sunscreen.)

However, if you’ve noticed some sun damage/hyperpigmentation and want to nip it in the bud, I’m happy to help you at my skin clinic at Needham Market. I have some excellent treatments on offer that work with your skin to help lighten the appearance of dark patches and age spots, leaving you with a fresher, more even complexion.

Laser Treatments for hyperpigmentation

I use an Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) laser to treat hyperpigmentation - it directs a low wavelength light through a crystal sapphire head, and into the deeper layers of skin until it reaches the subcutaneous layer.

Results of IPL for pigmentation can be seen in as little as one session although some people may need to have up to three.

One thing to bear in mind with laser treatments is that you’ll need to wait around four weeks between serious sun exposure (like a holiday or tanning session) and a laser treatment; making this time of year a great time to book your sessions. You also need to avoid the sun after a laser treatment because IPL increases your risk of sunburn - and of developing more discolouration. That’s what makes winter the best time to book your laser session - there’s less sunshine to avoid!

You should wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 40, if possible, on the areas that have been treated - even if it isn’t sunny. UV radiation can penetrate through the clouds even on duller days.

A chemical peel can also be an effective treatment for areas of pigmentation, as they exfoliate away old dead skin cells and stimulates cell renewal.

If you’d like to find out more about the ways I can help you with pigmentation, sun damage or any other skin care concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me - I love talking to people about skincare, and I’d love to help.

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