Can fractional laser or IPL help my sun-damaged skin?

In partnership with SA’s top medical aesthetic companies

Living where we do, sun damage is a fact of life for most South Africans, no matter what our skin tone. Fractional laser and IPL come to the rescue of our skins.

We can’t live without the sun. And why would we want to? We need it for vitamin-D production that is vital for our body to function healthily, and sun exposure offers a wealth of other health and emotional benefits.

We’re blessed with an abundance of sunshine in South Africa. The problem is, too much of this good thing can have undesirable consequences for our skin, most serious of which is skin cancer and then there’s the damage that makes our skin look aged well before it should.

South African men and women of all skin tones can start seeing the effects of sun damage on their skin usually in their thirties.

What does sun damage look like?

Unfortunately, we don’t see the effects of the damage we’re doing to our skin by over-exposing it when we are young. Most of us will get most of our exposure before the age of 18, thanks to sports and playing outdoors.

We do start seeing its effects around the time we turn 30, most typically as dark pigmentation marks (and this can start even earlier if we add hormonal factors like pregnancy, taking the contraceptive pill as well as acne scarring).

The first fine lines and a change in texture may start appear, as we also notice enlarged pores and coarseness. There may also be a change in skin tone (excessive redness or sallowness). And by the time we get to our fifties, say hello to sagging and wrinkles.

This damage is not only cosmetic. It means that our skin – which is our largest organ, after all – can’t do its job properly.

Luckily for us, it’s not a life sentence. Advances in laser technology mean we can treat our skin both at the surface and in-depth to make it healthier and more youthful. And this technology is improving all the time so we can do it without major discomfort, undesirable side effects and downtime.

Skin prep

The first step in getting our fabulous new skin is a consultation with the medical and aesthetic skin care team at Skin Renewal to assess our skin needs and condition and determine which light therapy to use.

They may prescribe a home-care treatment (possibly light peeling products), as well as sun protection to use for two to three weeks.

It is very important to avoid sun exposure for at least three weeks before having laser treatment. If you do, by accident, get some sun before the treatment, tell your therapist as you could risk burning your skin.

Fractional laser

The name fractional is the big clue about how this laser works. It creates thousands of tiny deep columns in the skin, treating targeted areas without damaging surrounding healthy tissue. This means better, quicker results, with far less down-time and discomfort.

The heating of the tissue destroys old, damage cells and stimulates the skin to produce collagen and growth factors, restoring elasticity, plumping the skin, fading pigmentation marks and giving the complexion a smoother, more even appearance

The newest version is the Fraxel® DUAL laser (Link), which uses deep-penetrating laser, as well as more superficial laser (or both), hence Dual. It is American FDA-approved to treat ageing and sun damage.

The beauty of it is that it can be used on people of all skin types and complexions – on the face, neck, chest, arms, legs, and back – to improve the following skin conditions:

  • severe sun damage
  • unwanted age/brown spots
  • skin tone and texture
  • wrinkles around the eyes
  • acne scars and surgical scars

It also treats pre-cancerous lesions (actinic keratosis) effectively.

For 3 to 6 months following the treatment, there is continuous improvement in the skin as the deeper layers of the skin continue to create new collagen. Results are long-lasting, depending on your lifestyle, age, skin condition and skincare regimen.

Is there downtime?

You may feel a “sunburn” sensation for a few hours after the treatment and your skin will look bronzed for a while afterwards.

Depending on how deep the treatment, there may be some redness or swelling, which lessens the next day or over a few days, as well as some dryness and flaking. Use a recommended moisturiser and sunscreen daily.

Intense Pulsed Light

IPL is your choice if you want a gentle, non-invasive alternative that treats redness (flushing and rosacea), blotchiness, sunspots, fine lines, uneven tone and texture and large pore size. Unfortunately, very dark complexions are not suitable for treatment.

Skin Renewal clinics use the new-generation Photo Genesis &  Limelight IPL, which targets red and brown discolouration, heating and destroying them, to remove the redness or brown marks, as well as shrinking dilated blood capillaries responsible for flushing and the redness of rosacea. (Rosacea is a chronic condition, but IPL provides relief from redness).

Will there be downtime after IPL?

Brown spots will look darker immediately after the treatment, and there may be some redness on your skin. The dark spots flake off within one to three weeks so pigmentation fades.

Use a recommended moisturiser and sunscreen daily.

To schedule an individual assessment consultation with one of the Skin Renewal team doctors, or to find out more about which laser treatment is the right one for you, visit Skin Renewal on www.skinrenewal.co.za or contact 0861 SKIN SA (754 672).

Take the quick Beyond Beauty Survey and you could win a R2 000 Skin Renewal voucher to spend in our online store, with free delivery within South Africa. T&Cs apply.

RELATED TAGS: laser and light sun damage