North Coast Medispa, based on the Far North Coast of NSW say the most common skin concern they see at their clinics is photoageing, which occurs as a result of repeated exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV) rays from the sun. Today’s feature is about Photoageing – What it is and how can we combat it.

Here on the Far North Coast of NSW, as it is in much of Australia, our lifestyle revolves around sun, surf, sand and the great outdoors; whether we’re being beach bums or wandering markets on the weekend. Our exposure to UV rays in Australia is more than that of almost anywhere in the world and approximately 2 in 3 Australians are diagnosed with some sort of skin cancer before they are 70 years of age.

What is photoageing?

“Photo” is derived from the Greek “phos” which means “light”. It’s exposure to the light, specifically light from the sun, which causes the ageing.

Chronic exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and artificial sources (like tanning beds) damages the skins cells and alters the structure of the skin, resulting in the pre-mature ageing of the skin.

Signs of photoageing include:

  • Fine wrinkles and lines, especially around your eyes, mouth and frown lines on your forehead
  • Leathery skin
  • Pigmentation (uneven skin tone)
  • Age spots
  • Red, scaly spots (keratoses) – you need to have these checked regularly as they can be precancerous
  • Spider veins on the face
  • Loss of skin tone
  • Thinning and dry lips

The extent of sun damage depends primarily on a person’s skin colour and their history of long-term or intense sun exposure.

The team at North Coast Medispa suggest that prevention is always better than a cure when it comes to skin ageing. Reversing the damage is possible (to a certain extent) but it does take time and commitment to proper skin care and professional in-clinic treatments.


Obvious, but often the one people forget, or don’t include in their morning routine. Whether you use sunscreen as a moisturiser and apply makeup over the top, or if you choose a foundation that has a high SPF sunscreen, either will go a long way to stopping your skin from being exposed to those hugely damaging UV rays.

“Sunscreen is the most crucial part of preventing premature ageing of the skin. A broad spectrum, SPF30+ or higher sunscreen should be applied daily regardless of how much time you’re in the sun or how covered up you are. It’s also important to reapply during the day, particularly after swimming or sweating.” says Kerry Lynch, dermatology nurse and owner of North Coast Medispa.

Skincare products

Nurse Kerry suggests that in addition to daily application of sunscreen, a topical anti-oxidant serum can help combat the signs of photoageing.

“We love Obagi Professional C serum which contains L-ascorbic acid, the active form of Vitamin C that is most effectively absorbed by the skin. Vitamin C is a potent anti-oxidant that fights the free-radical damage caused by exposure to UV rays. It also plays a role in collagen production and lightening pigmentation, so it’s the perfect skin care ingredient for fighting the signs of photoageing”.

The medical team at North Coast Medispa also prescribe topical creams containing hydroquinone or retinol (Vitamin A) to treat pigmentation and encourage healthy skin cell turnover.

If you’re concerned you’ve left it too long, remember, it’s NEVER too late to start looking after your skin. Whilst damage may have already been done, you can definitely take steps to reduce further damage from happening.

In addition to high quality skincare products, there are various non-surgical treatments that can help reverse or minimise the damage caused by photoageing. Some of the most popular treatments available at North Coast Medispa include:

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) and Laser

IPL and laser devices are two separate light-based technologies that emit powerful wavelengths of light to specifically target pigmentation in the skin. The heat energy created causes the targeted cells to be damaged and forces the skin to repair itself with new, healthier skin cells.

“We prefer to use both IPL and laser together to treat pigmentation and for general photorejuvenation. The combination allows us to use a wider range of wavelengths to specifically target the patient’s concerns and produce a more thorough result”.

Most patients typically have a series of 6 – 8 treatments at monthly intervals. Results will vary depending on your skin type, general health, lifestyle and the extent of the existing damage to your skin.

Microdermabrasion and chemical peels

These treatments are both used to exfoliate the skin to reduce damaged surface skin and encourage the turnover of fresher, healthier skin. Microdermabrasions use a mechanical action to exfoliate while chemical peels chemically exfoliate.

“These treatments are a great alternative for those who don’t want or can’t safely have IPL treatments, such as those with darker skin. Again, we like to use a multi-modality approach across a series of treatments so that we’re able to more effectively address the patient’s concerns and provide a better long-term result.” says Kerry.

If you want to talk about a plan to get your skin back to optimum health, reduce your signs of photoageing or minimise your chances of skin damage and even skin cancer, contact North Coast Medispa to arrange a consultation.

North Coast Medispa have clinics in Ballina and Lismore on the North Coast of NSW and are the only cosmetic dermatology clinic in the region. Get their contact details here.


Trish is a plastic surgery blogger. She is passionate about wellbeing, health and beauty, and doesn't mind a little bit of 'help' from the amazing cosmetic and beauty procedures that are available today. Trish spends her days talking to women and men who are looking for suggestions and advice on procedures that are available to them. Cutting through the sales pitch and hype, a down-to-earth response on general information is what you will get.

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