Skin-rejuvenation treatments not limited to lasers 

Skin-rejuvenation treatments not limited to lasers

A: Several different non-laser techniques can make older. sun-damaged skin look younger. including chemical peels. microdermabrasion and LED photomodulation.
To understand how these techniques work. it helps to understand the skin's structure and how aging affects the skin. On the skin's outermost layer - the paper-thin epidermis - old cells die as younger living cells from the lower epidermis rise to the surface. Eventually. the dead cells flake away. This continuous cycle renews the skin about once a month.
As you age. the dead cells don't slough off as easily as they did when you were younger. Your skin retains less moisture and produces less collagen and elastin. causing skin to thin and sag. Thin. loose skin produces classic signs of aging: fine lines around the eyes. deepened expression lines at the mouth and across the forehead. and sagging flesh around the jaw line and the neck.
These changes happen naturally with age. Sun exposure speeds them up. making the skin old before its time. This is often called photo-aging or photo-damage. Most of the lines and wrinkles on faces result from photo-aging. not getting older.
Sunlight breaks down the collagen in the skin. After 24 hours of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. cells produced less collagen and more of an enzyme (collagenase) that breaks down collagen. In addition. sunlight damages the cell DNA. which can lead to lentigenes (also called liver or age spots). skin tags or cancerous growths. You can also blame sun damage for freckles. red spots and other discolorations. All in all. photo-aging can make your skin look decades older than you really are.
Chemical peels. This technique treats wrinkles. precancerous skin growths and superficial scarring. Chemical solutions are applied to the skin. where they dissolve skin cells. removing the top layers of the epidermis. Just how deeply the peel penetrates. and the effects of the peel. vary depending on the strength of the solution used. Chemical peels can be done on the hands as well as the face.
For a superficial peel. doctors use weak acids to remove only the outermost layer of the epidermis. This peel can improve skin tone. enhance texture and somewhat minimize fine lines and wrinkles. For best results. repeat the treatment monthly for about six months. and then quarterly. Superficial peels are often called lunchtime treatments because they take just 15 to 20 minutes. and don't require any recovery time. Some people with very fair or sensitive skin may have some redness for a few hours. but most people feel comfortable going out in public immediately afterward.
If you have more advanced sun damage. you may want to consider a peel with a stronger acid. After the 35 to 45 minutes treatment. you'll have mild discomfort. About a week later. the superficial skin will darken. turn stiff and peel off. Your skin may appear flushed for several weeks. Most people report noticeable improvement in medium-depth lines and wrinkles and coloration. Results last up to two years. but many people get annual repeats before the improvements fade over time. After any chemical peel. you'll be more sensitive to sun exposure. so take extra precautions when outdoors.
Microdermabrasion. This quick and painless treatment can moderately improve fine lines. age spots or mild acne scars. Microdermabrasion lightly sands the skin with special crystals applied under high pressure. The physician then lightly suctions off the crystals and skin debris. A similar. newer device known as Vibraderm uses a lightly vibrating paddle to sand the skin. In either case. you may have some redness or swelling around the eyes. but it usually fades the same day.
LED photomodulation. This treatment offers subtle improvements for people with mild to moderate sun damage. It uses the same kind of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that you see on many phones. VCR/DVD players and treadmills. This device does not heat or wound the skin. Instead. it works by delivering short pulses of a narrow band of low-intensity yellow or red light to skin cells. Scientists think that the light stimulates the skin cells to make them act young again. Youthful skin cells send out more signals to the cells that make collagen and elastin that makes young skin so plump.
Remember. the most important thing you can do is to prevent skin damage in the first place. by using sunscreen and wearing hats and protective clothing when you go outside. throughout the year.

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