If your skin looks older than your years, you may be experiencing the effects of photoaging, or the premature aging of skin cells resulting from repeated exposure to ultraviolet light. Even though the fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, and leathery texture caused by sun damage aren’t exactly reversible, there are things you can do to fade their appearance. Board certified dermatologist Dr. Marilyn Kwolek provides several treatments, including chemical peels, designed to decrease the effects of photoaging. She serves patients from the Contra Costa area from her dermatology practice in Danville, California.
It’s estimated that as much as 90% of visible aging on sun-exposed skin is caused by ultraviolet light. As the premature aging of your skin brought on by sunlight, photoaging is different from chronological aging, in that it physically alters the structure of your skin tissues. Common early signs of photoaging include:
Photoaging appears on the parts of your body that other people see most often, such as your face, neck, and the backs of your hands. It’s also commonly seen on arms, legs, shoulders, and along women’s collarbones or necklines.
Chemical peels are a non-invasive treatment designed to address the effects of photoaging safely and effectively. The treatment involves the application of a chemical solution, or “peel,” that helps gently target the top layer of your skin to reduce the appearance of sun damage, including dark spots, uneven pigmentation, and wrinkles.
The chemical solution may be applied to your entire face, or just to certain areas, such as the vertical wrinkles around the mouth. The depth of the peel’s action depends on its ingredients, how it’s applied to your skin, and how long it stays there before it’s removed.
Yes. Light, medium, and deep peels are the three basic types of chemical peels. Although all three are designed to exfoliate dead skin cells to improve skin texture and help open pores, medium and deep peels can help correct uneven skin tone and lessen the appearance of wrinkles and dark spots.
Dr. Kwolek performs chemical peels with trichloroacetic acid, using concentrations which are only available through physicians. These chemicals exfoliate dead, sun-damaged skin and improve underlying collagen production. The two chemical peel treatments that Dr. Kwolek offers are:
Light chemical peel — This superficial treatment is done with Jessner's peel solution or a low concentration trichlorocetic acid, to keep your skin smooth, reduce the appearance of dark spots, and help unclog your pores. A light chemical peel has minimal downtime, and can be done at two- or four-week intervals to help reduce fine lines over time. Light chemical peels are an ideal option for patients with busy schedules.
Medium chemical peel — This treatment involves a stronger concentration of trichloroacetic acid, which has a more substantial diminishing effect on sunspots and fine wrinkles. Because the treatment is deeper, however, it will give you a red, sunburned appearance for about one week as newer, healthier skin is restored. Most patients only need one treatment to get the results they want.
* Individual results may vary.