Reversing signs of sun damage

By Britney Glaser - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Summertime is synonymous with getting that golden glow and while it might look nice now, every bit of tanning is affecting your skin's appearance for years to come.

Looking at 46-year-old Angela Robinson today, you'd never think that she had any reason to be self-conscious about her skin.  But after years of enjoying the sun with her two children, her face began to show unwanted discoloration.  "As the years passed," says Angela, "I noticed  several dark spots on my face."

With a job involving daily patient interaction, Angela didn't have the confidence she wanted when sitting down for consultations.  "I felt that people were looking at me wondering why my skin was two different shades," says Angela.

Rather than fork out the money for laser treatments and microdermabrasion, Angela scheduled an appointment with Medical Aesthetician Leann Widcamp with the Aesthetic Center of Southwest Louisiana.  Widcamp says no skin is immune to sun damage if not protected properly.  "Once we're starting to get that tan, we're damaging our skin," says Widcamp, "unfortunately for some people, it goes a bit too far and they end up with a little hyperpigmentation."

Hyperpigmentation is a darkening of the skin that comes about because of an overactive melanocyte - or pigment cell.  Widcamp says, "Our pigment cells are overproducing - either triggered by the sun or triggered by hormones or post trauma like an acne scar."

Sun exposure can also be blamed for 90-percent of our wrinkles.  "The sun will break down those collagen and elastin fibers," says Widcamp, "causing them to loosen more over time."

All of this surface skin damage can be treated, but depending on the severity of the problem, it could be costly and long-term.  For Angela, she saw her complexion even out thanks to a gentle bleaching serum.

Widcamp says that people can still enjoy the warmth of the sun and the vitamins it produces - but it should be done in moderation.  "I believe the sun is therapeutic and we do need a little of it, but we do need to be more aware and protect a little more," says Widcamp.

The U.S. Department of Health and Hospitals has included excessive sun exposure on their list of carcinogens or cancer-causing substances. If you're wanting a healthy, instant glow, self-tanners and spray tans are the way to go.  If it's just for your face, there's a variety of bronzers to give you that sun-kissed look.

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