Photoaging, or sun damage, happens when the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays or artificial UV lights cause the skin to age prematurely. You may develop deepening wrinkles, loss of skin elasticity, and sunspots (skin discoloration). While non-surgical treatments may improve some skin changes caused by sun damage, severe photoaging may require facial plastic surgery to restore a youthful appearance. July is UV Safety Month, and our board-certified plastic surgeon wants you to understand how UV light ages you and what you can do to reverse those changes.
How UV Light Ages Skin Tissue
Excess sun exposure causes a sunburn that may itch or peel in the short-term but carries much more severe (and dire) consequences long-term, such as loose skin and skin cancer. Ultraviolet radiation alters the DNA in your skin tissues, causing premature aging, skin discoloration, and other changes.
UVA light is a type of solar radiation that reaches through the superficial skin layers (epidermis) to the deeper skin tissues (dermis), damaging collagen and elastin fibers, epidermal cells, and tiny blood vessels called capillaries. That damage causes your skin to lose its supple, taut structure. UVB is another type of solar radiation that damages the epidermis, leading to photoaging and precancerous cells (actinic keratoses).
UV damage is cumulative and happens daily, not just when you go to the beach or an outdoor event. Those minutes spent sitting by a window on your commute or weeding your garden add up.
Treating Sun Damage with Plastic Surgery
Non-surgical methods may improve some photoaging, but the loss of skin elasticity and collagen lead to severe signs of aging, such as jowling, drooping eyelids, and loose neck skin. These aesthetic changes are best addressed with facial plastic surgery. These procedures can counteract photoaging and restore a younger appearance.
Sun damage shows up on the face and neck first. Facelift addresses skin laxity in the lower half of the face by removing loose skin, rearranging underlying muscles, and removing or redistributing displaced fat for a more youthful facial contour.
2. Neck Lift
The neck region is just as delicate, thin, and exposed to UV rays as the face, but many people forget to care for their necks when they apply sunscreen and skincare products. The skin on the neck experiences sun damage at the same pace as the face or faster in some cases. Neck lift removes excess fat that may appear as Venus rings around the neck, excises loose skin, and tightens the platysma muscle that causes vertical neck banding.
3. Eyelid Surgery
The delicate eye area is also vulnerable to photoaging. Blepharoplasty removes loose skin to address drooping eyelids and can also address crow's feet wrinkles, under-eye bags, and other age-related eyelid concerns.
Dr. Ary Krau is a well-known plastic surgeon in Miami and nationwide for his natural-looking results and media appearances. As a former reconstructive surgery instructor at the University of Miami, he has extensive experience in intricate facial procedures. He is a board-certified plastic surgeon who can help you turn back years of photoaging to look like a younger "you."