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What is photoaging?


Healthy skin

Excessive exposure to the sun can have some adverse effects on the skin. These effects can be immediate, such as sunburns, or have a later onset, such as aging, pre-malignant lesions and skin cancer.

Conversely, we obtain from the sun benefits such as a pleasant sensation of warmth, tans with cosmetic appeal and the fact that, fundamentally during childhood, we require a brief exposure to the sun to enable our skin to manufacture vitamin D. In this respect, it should be noted that today practically all milks are fortified with vitamin D. Moreover, we are able to develop enough vitamin D, even using sunscreen with high sun protection factor.


Signs of photoaging

The term photoaging is commonly used by dermatologists to designate the alterations that skin suffers due to sun exposure. It manifests itself in the form of wrinkles, crow’s feet, premature aging of the skin, dilation of small blood vessels (telangiectasias), irregular thinning of the skin, brown spots, grooves (face and neck) and sagging. If we look at the skin microscopically, we will appreciate in its deepest layer—the dermis—various types of fibers arranged in an orderly manner. These fibers provide elasticity and skin resistance. In photoaged skin, this orderly pattern is altered significantly, and chaos ensues. These fibers are fragmented, thickened and grouped in a disorderly way.

It may take years before we see the translation of all these disturbances on the surface of the skin. Skin aging may result in various types of injuries:

  • Senile spots. Also called liver spots. They are flat, small patches commonly found on face, neck, hands and arms. They appear due to an increase in the number of cells that produce the pigment of the skin, melanin, but they are not malignant. They are treated with depigmenting substances and peel agents.
  • Solar Keratosis. They are blemishes of reddish or brownish color, slightly scaly and usually located on the face, ears, hands and bald scalp region. They are pre-malignant injuries and can degenerate into cancer. These lesions are treated by dermatologists by freezing with liquid nitrogen, coagulation with an electric scalpel and application of anti-cancer creams based on 5 – fluoracil.
  • Bowen’s disease. It manifests as a red spot which appears on any exposed area, but particularly on the legs of women. It is technically a cancer because it is composed of malignant cells, but it is superficial and non-invasive. This means that it remains confined to the epidermis, the most superficial layer of the skin. However, over time, these stains become invasive and turn into squamous cell carcinoma. They must be treated before that happens. The treatment is performed by freezing with liquid nitrogen, coagulation with electric scalpel or surgical excision.


Treatment of photoaging

Peel treatment

Peel treatment.


The substances used are diverse, but the most common to combat aging is retinoic acid, which is a derivative of vitamin A. This acid stimulates the production of new cells in the inner layers of the skin and also accelerates the detachment of dead cells in the surface layer which manages to relax wrinkles and remove hyperpigmentations.



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Diagnosis and treatment of photoaging with peels in Valencia

Dr. Gabriel Serrano Sanmiguel

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