If you haven't been wearing a zinc oxide sunscreen the spots on your face may have darkened after this long hot summer that is still going on. There is a product in the drugstore called hydroquinone that proclaims to whiten sunspots and I see people using it and dramatically making things worse. The skin is a living breathing organ and the reaction of bleach to the skin is not straightforward. Unlike throwing a pair of white jeans and cup of bleach into the washer your skin is going to react depending on how much melanin you have in your skin. If it works for you once, great good for you but if you keep bleaching and bleaching, the skin reacts by becoming thicker and it hardens. Yikes!! So don't go running to the drugstore this fall looking for this product because you heard it works for people in Korea!
I asked my beautiful friend and colleague Kimberly Running of Ranch & Coast Plastic Surgery of Del Mar to tell us what kinds of treatments are most effective for sunspots. She has treated thousands of people in her career and the two kinds of treatments she recommends for sunspots are chemical peels and IPL.
What does a typical sun repair program look like for one of your clients?
It depends on their skin type. With a lighter skinned person I start with a chemical peel. For people with minimal sun damage a chemical peel is the most cost effective treatment and it is capable of taking care of all the sun damage. For someone with more sun damage I may do three chemical peels and three laser treatments.
What is a chemical peel?
A skin resurfacing technique in which a chemical solution is applied to the face to remove the outer surface layers of skin. There are different strength peels and they each do a different thing depending on how deep you are going. These treat sun damage, brown spots, uneven skin tone and acne.
Can everyone do chemical peels?
Definitely not! A darker skinned person has more melanin in the skin than a lighter skinned person and the peel will bring the melanin to the surface and create a darker appearance of the skin. In other words a chemical peel done in the wrong case can make someone's face much darker.
Are chemical peels dangerous?
It is of the utmost importance that the peel does not pass the dermis and enter the papillary dermis because that will increase pigmentation or cause post inflammatory pigmentation.
What does post inflammatory pigmentation look like?
Right after the treatment, the face looks bright and healthy but about a month later, the production of melanin increases and a person’s face becomes 10 times darker than before the treatment.
What is IPL?
It stands for Intense Pulsed Light and it is a laser treatment. I use it most commonly for lightening sunspots, decreasing red capillaries and increase collagen production.
Do you have a set protocol for amount of peels and laser treatments? Every client is different and the determining factors are skin type, money and social downtime. These things need to be discussed before any treatments begin. If you have a big event and your face is peeling off because the treatment went deeper then you expected, no one is happy. I highly recommend having a plan set up with your esthetician to understand the severity of these treatments.
What are the best ways to maintain these treatments and continue the improvement of the skin from sun damage?
Two ways. The first is home care. Veridatta's Enlighten Serum inhibits melanin production and helps to keep sunspots from reappearing immediately after the chemical peel and IPL treatment.
The second is wear a zinc oxide sunscreen!!! Chemical sunscreens absorb the heat and are the actual cause of the pigmentation production. Veridatta's Vital Sun SPF is a physical blocker for both UVB and UVA rays and is the only way to sit in the sun and not darker your sunspots is if you use a zinc oxide sunscreen.
Well fancy that. Thanks Kimberly and Ranch & Coast Plastic Surgery for having us.