Can You Reverse Sun Damaged Skin? Skin Experts Tell All. 

There’s a reason why dermatologists, aestheticians, and skin connoisseurs always say, “Don’t forget to wear SPF!” First, SPF protects your skin against cancer. Second, it’s also vital for reducing the amount of sun damage your skin faces. 
It goes without saying that sun damage can beat time when it comes to aging, meaning too much exposure without protection can cause you to look decades older than you are. However, as experts in all things skin related, our team at Amy Brenner, MD & Associates have found that there are ways you can reverse sun damaged skin for a more youthful appearance. 
Read on to learn more about everything you need to know about sun damage and how to treat it. 

How the sun damages your skin

Many people understand that the sun can cause major harm to the skin, but what is it about those bright rays that do all the damage? The quick answer is ultraviolet (UV) radiation. No matter if it’s a hot summer day or a cold winter night, the sun is always emitting UV rays (yes, even after dark). 

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Light that travels from the sun comes in short and long wavelengths. The longer wavelengths, similar to radio waves, are harmless and won’t damage your skin. On the other hand, shorter wavelengths like UVA and UVB rays are the ones that are the problem. UV rays can penetrate deep into the skin and manipulate the underlying cells, causing negative implications for how your skin cells grow and look.
Before we go further, we would like to point out that sunlight isn’t always bad for your skin. In fact, the sun is one of the best sources of vitamin D, which the body uses for bone development and can even help your mood. 
With that aside, let’s move on to how the sun can negatively affect your skin. Your skin consists of two layers: the epidermis (outer layer) and the dermis (inner layer). Within the epidermis lies cells called melanocytes that produce melanin. Melanin is what gives your skin pigment and protects it from UV rays.
Ever wonder why your skin “tans” after laying out in the sun? It’s simply a response to sun damage. The body creates more melanin to help combat future damage and sunburns. That is why people with darker, melanin-rich skin tones typically age slower than people with lighter skin—they naturally have more protection against sun damage. 

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Sun exposure can reduce the skin’s elasticity and collagen production, leading to a leathery, rough, and wrinkled appearance. When you’re younger, you don’t notice the sun damage as much. One reason for this is because the skin can better repair itself by shedding old, damaged layers frequently. However, as the years pass, your body’s cellular turnover rate slows down, and all that sun damage begins to build up. Oftentimes, you won’t see the true effects of sun exposure from your youth until decades later. 
Symptoms of sun damage include:

  • New freckles
  • Dark spots
  • Fine lines & wrinkles
  • Dryness
  • Textured skin
  • Thin skin

Successful sun damage treatments require skin resurfacing

While the best way to prevent sun damage is by using SPF daily (starting at a young age), skin resurfacing can help reverse the sun damage you’ve accumulated over the years. Skin resurfacing focuses on boosting cellular turnover to improve the skin’s appearance. 
During the cellular turnover process, new cells in the dermis push older cells to the epidermis. As skin cells move to the surface, they become inactive and die off. This reveals the newer cells that lie underneath. On average, this process takes about 28 days, but excess sun damage can slow down cellular turnover. That means you’re stuck with old cells for much longer that end up building on top of each other instead of consistently shedding away.
There are products available for purchase – you can buy such as exfoliants and serums that can help with skin resurfacing, and we highly recommend adding medical-grade skincare products to your daily routine. To complement a great skincare regimen, professional skin resurfacing treatments can do wonders to reverse sun damage so that how young you feel on the inside radiates on the outside. 

The best skin resurfacing treatments for sun damage

Learning how to reverse sun damage is as easy as visiting your local medical spa. For people in the Cincinnati area, Amy Brenner, MD & Associates offers a wide-range of skin resurfacing treatments that bring real results. Based on our years of experience combating sun damage, here are our top picks for the best resurfacing treatments for smooth, age-defying skin. 

Laser skin resurfacing

It would be unfair to not start this list off with laser skin resurfacing. We won’t say lasers are miracle workers, but they sure are pretty close. Laser energy penetrates the skin to vaporize damaged skin cells. New cells “resurface,” helping you fight against dark spots, fine lines, and other visible signs of sun damage. 
In terms of laser technology, there are two main types of wavelengths that lasers use:
Ablative wavelengths: Ablative wavelengths remove the epidermal layer, producing dramatic skin-resurfacing results. This effect promotes collagen formation and retraction of the dermis and epidermis to tighten the skin. 
Non-ablative wavelengths: Non-ablative wavelengths are not nearly as aggressive, but are able to treat the skin for other conditions such as acne and uneven skin tone. The wavelengths do this by drilling small thermal injuries into the skin to kickstart collagen and elastin production. 
Laser resurfacing options at Amy Brenner, MD & Associates: 

Chemical peels

It’s no secret that chemical peels are incredibly effective for skin resurfacing. Plus they are a great companion to your everyday skincare routine. Chemical peels are full of replenishing ingredients that shed the top layer of skin to reveal the beautiful, fresh skin that lies below. 
The great thing about peels is their versatility; you can get one as mild or strong as you’d like, meaning you can specifically cater a chemical peel to your unique needs. Since chemical peels are so customizable, they not only treat sun damage but also:

  • Acne scars
  • Acne
  • Fine lines & wrinkles
  • Melasma
  • Age spots
  • Uneven texture and tone

Chemical peels can range in intensity from light peels to deep peels. However, if you’re new to peels, we highly recommend you start light and slowly work your way up.


Unlike the dermarollers you can buy for at-home care, true microneedling is the professional treatment that gives real skin rejuvenation results. Microneedling uses an innovative device with dozens of tiny needles to puncture the skin. The needles create micro channels wounds that trigger the body’s natural healing process. As a result, it boosts cellular turnover and collagen production. Microneedling treatments are often paired with skin-loving serums such as hyaluronic acid or vitamin C to give you the best age-rewinding results possible. 
Specifically at Amy Brenner, MD & Associates, we can combine our microneedling with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) to create the best prp facial in Cincinnati. We also offer RF microneedling, which amplifies the results of traditional microneedling. 
Microneedling is a great way to reverse sun damage and other skin conditions such as:

  • Acne scars
  • Fine lines and wrinkles
  • Stretch marks
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Enlarged pores


If you have minor skin damage such as excess dryness and fine lines, then dermaplaning could work great for you. Dermaplaning uses a surgical-grade bladeknife to gently scrape away dead skin build up. Plus, the treatment triggers the body’s healing process, which means you get a collagen boost and exfoliant in one session! Dermaplaning can treat: 

  • Fine lines
  • Acne scars
  • Dark spots
  • Dull skin
  • Rough texture
  • Peach fuzz

Note: You do not want to try this at home. While there are DIY skin resurfacing options you can buy on the market, they can do more harm than good. Think about it. Do you trust yourself with a knife on your face? Going about the process on your own could lead to damage, including increasing your risk for pain and infection. 
This treatment can also help skin products infuse better into the skin, so it’s a great way to make sure those anti sun damage products can do their job. 

Schedule your sun damage treatment at Amy Brenner, MD & Associates

Let our skin experts help you reverse sun damage and give you the skin you’ve always wanted. As a medspa and medical practice, we are uniquely equipped with the ability to not only treat your skin, but also help you maintain your overall health. 
We’re here to offer a warm, friendly environment while providing the highest quality treatments and procedures to help you look great and feel great. 
Get started today by using our virtual consultation tool or scheduling an appointment. 
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