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What is photo-aging? Is it reversible?

Ultraviolet (UV) light is the leading cause of premature skin aging (1). Primary sources of UV light include natural sunlight and tanning beds. Some forms of UV rays can pass through clouds, car windows, and even clothing, reaching us when we least expect it. Even in the absence of a sunburn or tan, UV damage silently accumulates and accelerates the intrinsic aging process of our skin. Whether it’s summer, spring or winter, you should always protect your skin from the sun.

Photo-aging is a broad term used to describe changes observed in the skin due to chronic UV light exposure. It is estimated that up to 80% of visible facial aging signs are the result of UV damage (2,3). Fortunately, photo-aging is not a part of the natural aging process, and any damage incurred can be significantly repaired.

To truly appreciate the accelerated aging effects of the sun, you can compare the sun-protected skin on the underside of your forearm to the sun-exposed skin on the back of your hand. Clinical findings of photo-aged skin typically include textural changes such as wrinkles, large pores, and a weathered appearance. Pigment irregularities, increased laxity, an uneven skin tone, and visible facial veins or blemishes may appear. Chronic sun damage is also the source of pre-cancerous lesions such as actinic keratosis and is the most common culprit of skin cancer.

What is photo-aging? Is it reversible?

The best way to prevent further sun damage is to start a sun protection regimen year-round. Here are the top 5 medically proven skin care treatments to reverse the damage of photo-aged skin.

1. Topicals:

Topical treatments may be powerful enough to provide noticeable results for the early signs of photo-aging. There are many effective natural and prescription-grade products that can be targeted to reduce hyperpigmentation, repair fragile skin, and increase cell turnover. Consult your doctor to make sure that your skin care products are right for you and your goals.

2. Microneedling:

Microneedling, also known as collagen induction therapy, is a minimally invasive, painless technique for skin and scar enhancement. Tiny, invisible micro-injuries are created in the skin, stimulating the body’s natural wound healing cascade. Clinical studies report a 400% increase in collagen and elastin following a total of 4 monthly micro-needling sessions. (4). Collagen-deficient areas of skin tend to look rough, loose, and wrinkled. Talk to your doctor about intensifying your results with the addition of platelet rich plasma (PRP). Microneedling, with its incredible ability to reverse and prevent the signs of aging, is a game-changer in the world of anti-aging therapy.

3. Photofacial:

The photofacial is the most highly demanded treatment for the reversal of sun damage. Gentle pulses of light transfer heat and energy to specific pigment and vascular targets. Your doctor will customize treatment parameters according to your particular concern. Pigment irregularities and damaged skin cells will rise to the surface of the skin and flake off for the next several days post-treatment. Commonly referred to as the photofacial, this is the most effective, non-invasive procedure available to repair sun-damage, slow the signs of aging and reveal a flawless complexion.

4. Laser Skin Resurfacing:

Laser resurfacing removes thin layers of damaged skin cells and stimulates the regeneration of fresh, healthy tissue. Compared to microdermabrasion (a common aesthetic procedure that removes only the outer layer of the skin) laser resurfacing is performed by a licensed physician and goes significantly deeper into the epidermis, allowing for immediate results of stubborn concerns and long-term effects. Laser skin resurfacing is the ultimate treatment to remedy your skin from the inside out.

5. A healthy, balanced diet:

One of your best defenses against aging skin is a healthy, balanced diet. Repairing damaged skin is a process, and maintaining healthy skin is a lifestyle. Good nutrition is the fundamental building block of healthy skin. Consult a naturopathic physician to optimize your health and become empowered in your lifestyle choices.

If you have questions regarding any of these treatment strategies or would like to schedule a free consultation for you or your family member to discuss the best way to prevent premature skin aging, give us a call at MedRoyal at (480) 783-0708 or email us at


1. Farage, MA., et al. “Intrinsic and extrinsic factors in skin ageing: a review.” Int J Cosmet Sci. 30. 2 (2008): 87-95.

2. Langton, AK., et al. “A new wrinkle on old skin: the role of elastic fibres in skin ageing.” Int J Cosmet Sci. 32. 5 (2010): 330-339.

3. Flament, F., et al. “Effect of the sun on visible clinical signs of aging in Caucasian skin.” Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 6 (2013): 221-232.

4. Singh, A., and Savita Yadav. “Microneedling: Advances and widening horizons.” Indian Dermatol Online J. 7. 4 (2016): 244-254.