There are three main concepts of how to reverse sun damage. The first one is topical products like retinols, vitamin C, and even hydroquinone. The second category is chemical peels, which can help peel off damaged skin, and the third category is interventions like lasers, which can really help you resurface the skin.


Treatments to consider

Chemical peels can include gentler agents like alpha and beta hydroxy acids as well as more aggressive agents like TCA and phenol. They are great for peeling off the superficial sun-damaged layers of epidermis that can really age the skin.

Light based treatments can include photofacials like IPL and BroadBand Light — these have less downtime but can really help with freckles and melasma. CO2 and Erbium lasers go deeper and can be more effective for chronic long-term sun exposure.

Microneedling is the safest technique for reversing sun damage because it has the lowest risk of hyperpigmentation and is suitable for all skin tones.


Skin factors

A few things to consider when looking at treatments to help reverse sun damaged skin, would be your skin tone, texture and any underlying conditions, like rosacea.

For patients with darker skin tones, some lasers can cause hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation. When looking for a provider, it’s best to select someone with experience treating darker skin tones.

For other skin conditions, like acne or rosacea, your doctor should definitely take that into account when recommending a treatment. Some treatments, like lasers, can actually make skin conditions worse.

All of these treatments are acceptable no matter what climate you live in, but none of the treatments are great if you’re going to have prolonged or profound sun exposure. Protecting against further sun damage is important. I recommend wearing a zinc or titanium-based SPF product every single day, rain or shine, no matter where you live.

All treatments should be undertaken with the supervision of your doctor to ensure that your unique skin type and other concerns are addressed appropriately.


Each week, Dr. Lara Devgan answers questions submitted by readers like you. If you want to ask Dr. Devgan a question about plastic surgery, aesthetic treatments, or skin care, you can do so here