The Jacobs Center for Cosmetic Surgery

How Chemical Peels Address Sun Damage

At the height of summer, chances are good that most of us take advantage of the hot days and clear skies with frequent trips to the beach, outdoor festivals, and parties. After weathering through the dreary, colder months, it’s tempting to throw caution to the wind and soak up as much sunshine as we can. Of course, there’s no doubt that the sun can brighten our mood—not to mention give us an enviable golden glow—but how much is too much? The Jacobs Center for Cosmetic Surgery frequently sees patients who have spots, lines, and wrinkles as a result of sun exposure (yes, even in the often-foggy San Francisco Bay Area!). A chemical peel can help to significantly reduce these signs of aging that are hastened and worsened by ultraviolet radiation.

Skin takes a beating from chronic exposure to intense sunlight, as those warming rays come bearing ultraviolet radiation, which weakens connective fibers in the skin and breaks down important molecules. As elastin (the protein primarily responsible for elasticity in the skin) and collagen (the protein responsible for structure, stability, and flexibility) is destroyed, the skin begins to loosen and sag. This leads to the formation of lines and wrinkles. UV radiation can also cause or worsen sunspots (flat, brown spots caused by excess melanin production), leathery patches (due to dry skin as hyaluronic acid levels drop), and more.

The exfoliating process triggered by chemical peels can address these irregularities. A powerful chemical solution causes the top layer of sun-damaged skin to literally flake and peel away over the following days and weeks. This reveals a layer not as severely ravaged by the sun, as well as prompts the production of brand-new collagen and other molecules. This all causes the face to appear more youthful, clearer, and smoother.

Collagen and elastin production continue for four to five months after the peel, so the benefits of beautiful and more youthful skill can last for four to five years!

The Jacobs Center offers TCA chemical peels, which contain non-toxic trichloroacetic acid. These are available in varying strengths, depending on the type of concerns the patient seeks to address. The short, in-office procedure causes only minimal discomfort.

Dr. Jacobs has had great success with TCA peels for 30 years, using them on all skin types and ages. They can be applied as standalone treatments, using a numbing cream, or they can be used in combination with a Dr. Jacobs’ Serial Vector Facelift. This pairing is known as a SynergyLift™, which triggers more profound collagen production for tighter, smoother skin.

A peel alone yields a 40 percent increase in skin elasticity, while a SynergyLift™ measurable boosts elasticity by 50 to 70 percent.

When it comes to UV exposure, it is also important to mention skin health. As skin cancer continues to be pervasive throughout the country, doctors strongly encourage making sun protection a priority. Some of the best ways to safeguard your skin include applying a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 40 each day, practicing sun avoidance during the hours when it is most intense (between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.), and covering up with protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts, along with UV-filtering sunglasses.

Want to find out more about how a TCA chemical peel works? The Jacobs Center for Cosmetic Surgery helps patients in San Francisco and surrounding areas with skin rejuvenation treatments like chemical peels. Inquire about an appointment online or call 415.433.0303 for more details.