This image has been doing the rounds in the cosmetic world since it was first published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2012.
This gentleman was a truck driver who over his career was exposed to consistent, daily UV exposure to the left side of his face.
Ageing is inevitable and dependent on time and genetics. However it is thought that 80% of age-related changes in our skin are the result of extrinsic factors, namely UV photodamage. Extrinsic ageing (vs intrinsic, chronological “just getting old” ageing) is the result of external factors such as excess sun exposure (photo-damage) and other lifestyle habits such as smoking. Photoaging can be avoided with good sun protection habits and in this blog we hope to clear up many misconceptions that we commonly find amongst our patients with regards to sun exposure and protection.
The first question I ask during a skin consultation is whether the patient uses SPF on a daily basis and what that SPF is. If it’s not an immediate yes then I know I’m going to hear “I don’t really go outside”, “Only when I know I’m going to be outside”, “Only in summer” or a flat “no”.
UVA radiation in particular plays a significant role in photo-ageing as it is able to penetrate more deeply in the skin than UVB affecting the deeper dermal layers. Here it can damage collagen and elastin – leading to deep wrinkling and reducing the skins’ resilience; damage vascular structures causing telangiectasia (visible blood vessels at the surface of the skin); and more superficially causes pigmentation irregularities and lesions.
What you may not know about UVA
- UVA is present in equal strength all year regardless of season.
- UVA accounts for 95% of the UV radiation we are exposed to with sun exposure
- UVA can penetrate through both clouds and GLASS e.g. your office, bus, car, café window
- Incidental sun adds up. Waiting for the bus, ducking out for your morning coffee, hanging out the washing.
We live a very long life and here in Australia our winters are relatively mild. We aren’t snowed in 3months of the year and we’re showing it on our faces (and necks, chests, hands…)
As well as this, UVA has been shown to cause damage in the more superficial layers of the skin in the epidermis where most skin cancers such as basal cell carcinomas (BCC’s) and squamous cell carcinomas (SCC’s) occur.
So how can we prevent photo ageing?
If you want to slow down your extrinsic ageing process the use of a DAILY high protection, broad spectrum sunscreen is a MUST, year-round.
Be aware of the daily UV index! Download the Sun Smart app to find out what the expected UV is for the day and how much protection you may require. UV levels are typically highest between 11am-3pm.
Wear sun-protective clothing such as a broad-rimmed hat, sunglasses, long-sleeved clothing and seek shelter during this time where you can. Sit under a tree, veranda, stay indoors.
Is it too late for me?!
Don’t panic. We’ve got you.
What you can do
- Start wearing SPF 30+ – SPF 50+ EVERY DAY. Face, neck, chest and hands.
- Active skincare such as AHA’s (alpha hydroxy acids), Vitamin C serums, topical retinoids (Vitamin A) will help to increase skin cell renewal, brighten dull skin, reduce and prevent pigmentation changes
- Vitamin B products and moisturisers will help improve dry and flaky skin and restore the skins’ natural barrier protection.
Can we turn back the clock?
- Dermal filler to re-volumise and plump any areas of deficit and soften deep furrows
- Anti-wrinkle injections to reduce dynamic facial lines (expressive lines) and prevent existing lines from becoming deeper
- Vascular and Pigment laser for colour irregularities
- Resurfacing procedures such as peels, micro-needling, RF, RF needling, ablative lasers
- Tightening and lifting treatments such as Rf, RF needling, Micro-focused Ultrasound