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Here Comes the Sun

Several weeks ago, the media outlets were ablaze with the sensational picture of a career truck driver with severe sun damage on his “driver’s side” of his face.  This picture shows his normal aging on his face and neck and the tremendously accelerated aging on the left side.  I guess in some countries, the aging would be reversed, related to the steering wheel being on the opposite side as ours.  Having tinted glass on the car windows may assist, but not in Virginia as it is illegal to have very dark tint.

We all know that sun is good and bad for our skin.  It is good because it helps the process of Vitamin D synthesis and there is no doubt that it feels good, makes us feel good and affects our moods and well-being.  Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs when people are faced with long stretches of dark and gloomy days.

The bad part of sun exposure is the actinic damage from the ultraviolet rays.  There is a 100% chance that excessive sun exposure will make us look older than we are and make us more susceptible to skin cancer.  Unfortunately, much sun damage begins in childhood and the effects are cumulative.  It is really important to protect our children and educate them on the dangers of excessive sun exposure.

If you are young and reading this article, use your head and use moderation.  You can still tan and enjoy the outdoors if you use moderation.  Ultra dark tans in white folks no longer are a fashion statement, but rather a sign of being old fashioned and out of touch.  The biggest thing is to avoid getting burned as that is the worse culprit in skin damage.  The biggest mistake most people make is trying to rush a tan and over expose.  If you are going to be out in the sun, control it with common sense and sunscreens.  Most people use far too little sunscreen and need do double or triple the amount applied.  They also don’t reapply it often enough as sweat and water can remove it quickly.   Don’t believe the “waterproof” claims on the bottles.  Heading off future damage with medically based “lifetime” skin care is also important.  Early use of Retin A and daily sunscreen is a good habit to begin in the second decade.

Older folks who may be reading this must realize that it is never too late to control sun exposure.  Getting on a medically based skin care regimen with Retin A and bleaching creams, and of course sun screen can make big differences in reversing sun damage.  Skin resurfacing procedures like chemical peel or laser skin resurfacing can reverse decades of sun damage from our face.


The photo below shows a patient before and after laser skin resurfacing.  The improvement in wrinkles and sun and age spots are obvious.

Finally, it is important to see your dermatologist for a yearly full body mole check.  I just had mine last week!  We all need to be suspicious about any lesion (especially pigmented ones) that are new or that have changed.  See your Derm!

For more information about cosmetic facial surgery and Dr. Joe Niamtu, visit


Joe Niamtu, III DMD

Cosmetic Facial Surgery

Richmond, Virginia

Office Address

Joe Niamtu III, DMD
11319 Polo Place
Midlothian, VA 23113

Office Hours

Monday - Friday
8:00am - 5:00pm

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