As we age our skin changes. Perhaps the most important factor causing these changes is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun. When these UV rays hit the skin they produce harmful free radicals. Free radicals damage the skin in a number of ways. They cause the breakdown of collagen, the protein in the skin that holds it together, giving it a youthful and tight appearance. This leads to the formation of fine lines, wrinkles, laxity, and enlarged pores. It also thins out the deeper layer of the skin called the dermis and produces broken capillaries which become visible to the naked eye. Additionally, UV rays will cause certain cells in the skin called melanocytes to produce a molecule called melanin, the pigment that gives the skin its color. This is what happens when we get a tan. Also, excess melanin is seen in freckles, age spots, and melasma.
There are a number of things we can do to protect ourselves from and correct this damage. Using sunscreen every day is the most basic way to prevent sun damage. Other skin care products to use include antioxidants to block the harmful free radicals, retinoids to stimulate collagen production and a firm appearance, and brightening creams to remove the dark discolorations. Treatments include facials, microdermabrasion, chemical peels, and various laser treatments. These are designed to exfoliate or target specific things in the skin such as dark discolorations and broken capillaries. People that get the best results are those that combine a good at-home skin care regimen with regular treatments in the office. For this reason Dr. Alex's philosophy is to have a combination approach, by preventing and correcting in multiple ways for a sustained youthful appearance.