I grew up in New Jersey, so needless to say I frequented the tanning salon quite a bit and only used oil at the beach. Not so smart. It’s not something I like to openly admit, but here I am shouting it out for the entire Internet to know. Thinking back now, I can only shake my head at how careless I was with my precious skin.
There are lots of products out there that claim to reverse sun damage, but truth be told, to really get rid of brown spots, hyperpigmentation, etc. once they’ve appeared, you need to bring out the big guns and work with an expert. To deal with my sun damage – a brown spot on my right cheek and countless broken capillaries under my eyes – I visited Courtney Brooks, Medical Aesthetician at Dennis Gross Dermatology L.L.C. Courtney treated my sun damaged skin issues with care and finesse – she is simply one of the best! I also sat down with her to break down the latest and greatest lasers for reversing sun damage. Read on to learn more!
BN: What causes brown spots?
Courtney: Sunspots form as a result of excess pigmentation due to too much ultra violet light, which obviously is of greater concern at the end of summer after long periods of sun-exposure. With that being said, it’s also important to note that sun damage can stay with you for more than ten years.
BN: Can you get broken capillaries from sun damage? If so, why does this happen?
Courtney: Broken capillaries are a bit different. Capillaries break from extreme temperatures versus the ultra violet light. Broken capillaries can occur in the winter because you are exposing the skin to extreme temperature fluctuations – hot inside and then cold, dry air outside. Blowing your nose more, taking hot showers, even using stripping cleansers can cause broken capillaries, as well.
BN: What kinds of lasers are used to treat brown spots and broken capillaries?
Courtney: To treat brown spots and broken blood vessels we use two different modalities on the GentleMax Pro laser.
Alexandrite (brown spots)
I recommend 1-2 sessions of the Alexandrite laser which costs about $250-$450 depending on the size of the spot(s). The Alexandrite laser uses thermal energy to destroy the brown spot. You will feel heat with each pulse. Post-treatment the unwanted sun or brown spots will become darker in color and flake off over the course of a week.
Vascular (broken capillaries) – YAG
Small red vessels can usually be removed in only 1 – 3 sessions at $350-$1200 depending on the area. Several sessions may be necessary to remove bigger veins and spider veins.
It works by breaking down the wall of the capillary so the blood can re-enter the system and erases it from the surface. After a harsh, windy winter is an ideal to come in to have broken capillaries taken care of.
BN: What other lasers do you offer that help repair sun damage?
Courtney: To treat a full-face of freckles, we would recommend IPL (intense pulsed light) treatment to remove the superficial discoloration. The IPL focuses mainly on achieving an even tone to your skin, is gentler, and has less downtime. The treatment is $550 per treatment and we recommend 2-3 sessions, 4-6 weeks a part.
BN: What products/treatments would you suggest to help prevent sun damage?
Courtney: Dr. Gross just launched a moisturizing Dark Spot Sun Defense SPF 50 that is incredible. I’ve been using samples on patients after performing medical facials, peels, and laser treatments.
To actively treat sun damaged skin I suggest daily use of the Alpha Beta Peels and the Ferulic + Retinol Brightening Solution. This is a winning combination for anyone looking to even his or her skin tone and be proactive about anti-aging.
Insider Tip: Before coming in for your laser treatment, avoid prescription retinols a week before and the less tan you are, the better. Don’t be afraid to talk with your aesthetician to make the best plan for you.
Dr. Dennis Gross Dermatology is located at 900 5th Avenue. Call 212-725-4555 or visit http://www.9005thdermatology.com to learn more or book your appointment with Courtney.