Many Seattleites soaked up plenty of vitamin D during our unusually dry, warm summer. However, when seeing ourselves in the mirror or on Zoom, many may find we acquired more than we bargained for — including fine lines, darker spots or patches, and dry, rough skin.

Dr. Kate Dee’s schedule at Glow Medispa in West Seattle is filling with those concerned about what sun exposure has wrought over the past several months. “It can be tough to look at yourself on a Zoom call and see damage that you didn’t notice before,” she says.

A top post-summer concern: sunspots. Also known as liver spots, these rounded, bloblike, flat pigmented areas collect on the face and hands and add years to a person’s appearance. Often, sunspots tend to accumulate on the left side of the face, where skin is exposed to rays through the driver’s side window, Dee explains — particularly if you’ve spent time in sunnier climes such as Florida or Arizona.

Summer sun and heat can exacerbate existing skin conditions, such as rosacea’s flushing and broken blood vessels on the cheeks, nose, chin and forehead. Or melasma, which are larger brownish patches on the cheeks, forehead, upper lip and chin.

And while a leathered look is great for handbags, it’s not so great for faces. “At the end of summer, too much sun leads to dry, flaky skin, which shows more wrinkles,” Dee says. Athletes, gardeners and other outdoor types might fight the dry more than others.

If a brand-new lesion popped up this summer in a new place, it’s best to visit your dermatologist’s office for a quick evaluation, she cautions. But for most concerns, a Seattle skin care professional may have just the anti-aging solution.

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Treating summer skin

Dee’s approach depends on a holistic assessment of skin type and underlying conditions. While skin care products and in-office procedures can work together, some issues can’t be treated with topicals alone — melasma, for example, and multiple sunspots. “It’s tough to make headway with just skin care if someone has a lot of sun damage,” Dee says.  

In-office treatments tend to be more successful in these situations. Dee’s office relies on three main approaches.

Peel: Good for all skin types and a good fit for those with sunspots, melasma and acne. A gently exfoliating chemical is applied to the face. In several days, the surface skin begins to peel off, taking with it any pigment damage. “‘Within a week, the skin looks really different,” Dee says. “Our peels are very effective and are safe on any skin type.”

Broadband light photorejuvenation (BBL): BBL uses a machine to zap targeted pigmented brown and red lesions. Typically, the brown age spots will crust over at the surface, then start sloughing off after a few days, revealing fresh skin. This treatment is a good fit for many with lighter skin types, and/or younger individuals whose concerns are limited to color and tone.

Laser treatment: Gentle laser energy resurfaces the skin, stimulates collagen production, and reduces fine lines, wrinkles and sun damage. Often, a good fit for those with multiple forms of summer skin issues and those who are concerned with anti-aging and prevention. With this treatment, patients experience mild skin redness for about 24 hours and a sandpaper-like skin texture for up to seven days, but it’s not a visually noticeable treatment, like a peel. The laser resurfacing treatment is safe on light to medium skin types.

Treatments usually take place over three sessions, as best results and patient comfort require only a portion of skin turnover on each visit. The recommended treatment depends on skin type, skin conditions involved, and the individual. For example, someone who can’t help but pick at peeling skin wouldn’t be a good candidate for a peel — it must be left alone or scarring might impair the outcome.

Skin type is based on melanin production, which also acts as sun protection. Some of the worst sun damage is seen in fair-skinned redheads, Dee says. Those with darker skin should be particularly cautious at any skin care professional’s office, Dee notes. For those with medium-to-dark skin, careless use of BBL or lasers can leave behind hyperpigmentation (darker splotches) or hypopigmentation (intense lasers kill off pigment, leaving white splotches).

After the procedure series completes, topical creams can help preserve any procedure results, but staying out of the sun is critical. Ideally, concerned clients learn to protect skin and keep the fragile barrier resilient. Dee recommends exfoliating skin cells, along with vitamin C and antioxidant treatments to build collagen and fight sun damage. Layering moisturizer and sunblock in the daytime provides ongoing defense, and using retinol in the evening helps with anti-aging.

Most clients are concerned about the post-summer face, but hands are often next for BBL treatment. Hands often don’t receive as much sun protection as other body parts, Dee says, so hands may appear more noticeably wrinkled, dry, and sunspot-kissed, in contrast to a newly rejuvenated face.

“We have a lot of tools and can accommodate anyone,” she says. “We can figure out an effective, workable solution to skin care issues, even those you don’t think you can do much about.”

Dr. Kate Dee, Glow Medispa

At Glow Medispa, we are driven by science, and everything we do is informed by the latest information and data available. We make a personalized assessment for each patient and strive to bring out your natural beauty.