The Importance of Sun Protection
May is skin cancer awareness month. The sun gives off invisible rays of ultraviolet light. Two types of ultraviolet rays are ultraviolet A and B. UVB rays (also known as ultraviolet B rays, are mostly absorbed by the epidermis, (the outermost layer of the skin). Have you ever been burned? That is your skin responding to UVB rays by producing chemicals called inflammatory mediators. These chemicals tend to imitate the tiny blood vessels in the dermis, which then create the red surface on your skin. Alongside UVB rays, ultraviolet A rays, can do long-lasting damage. They penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB rays. UVA rays affect the DNA cells of the dermis. This often results in the attack of cell membranes, and changing the proteins that make up collagen for the support of your skin’s fibrous structure. Besides the potential for skin cancer development, overexposure to the sun’s UVA and UVB rays can rapidly age the skin, leading to wrinkles, sun spots, and discoloration.
Protecting Your Cosmetic Procedure Investment
Sun protection is absolutely imperative after cosmetic procedures. Common cosmetic surgeries that leave you with skin vulnerable to UV light include all major facial surgical procedures (facelifts, neck lifts, eye lifts, and rhinoplasty) as well as skin enhancement procedures like deep chemical peels and laser resurfacing. Your skin is temporarily sensitive during recovery and therefore highly vulnerable to UV rays.
Staying out of the sun is critical whenever you have fresh scarring, even after something as minor as mole removal. -If you have to go out, it’s important to avoid the sun during peak intensity hours (10 am to 4 pm), always being sure to apply copious amounts of broad-spectrum sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) with moisturizer before leaving.
Understand that if fresh scar tissue gets sunburned, it may never fade to your normal skin color, always remaining noticeably darker.
Sunscreens help your skin by providing protection by reflecting or scattering the sun’s harmful rays. Sunscreens are rated based on their sun protection factor (SPF). A product’s SPF number helps determine how long the product will protect before you need to re-apply it. Take the number of minutes that it takes you to typically burn and multiply it by the SPF number- that will determine how long you will be protected.
If you are allergic to sunscreen, you may talk to a dermatologist for a different approach.
Additional Sun Protection Tips
- Wear a solid wide brim hat (with the brim at least 3 inches wide) for added sun protection, preferably one that is SPF rated. A wide brim hat will also help you disguise sutures or bruising.
- The best clothing are loose fitting garments made from fabric that is tightly woven. Often, darker colored clothing will help you protection more than lighter colored clothing.
- Be aware that even sitting near a car or home window can expose your skin to UV rays.
- Use only gentle, hypoallergenic products, including fragrance-free moisturizers and non-soap cleansers.
- Remember to hydrate. Drinking six to eight glasses of water will help rejuvenate your skin from within and flush toxins from your system.
Our West Avenue Plastic Surgery office offers a number of sunscreen products, including Obagi, SkinCeuticals, Colorescience, and EltaMD, to name a few. We have something to suit almost everyone.
Dr. Roth and his staff will be happy to answer all your questions about protecting and enhancing your skin following any procedure.