WASHINGTON – Bill McElligott looks 66 or 86 depending on which side of his face is visible.
The right side of McElligott’s face looks like any baby boomer might, but on the left, his face is sagging, wrinkled and aged beyond his years.
McElligott spent his career as a truck driver, with the left side of his body exposed to constant sun for almost 30 years.
“It would take me an hour to drive to work and an hour to come home,” McElligott tells The New England Journal of Medicine. “It was a semi route, I’d have six to eight stops … 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the road.”
McElligott drove a truck through sunny Chicago, delivering milk to stores and gas stations. The 66-year-old suffers from unilateral dermatoheliosis or photo-aging which is caused by long-term exposure to the sun.
It took him 15 years before he started noticing a difference between the two sides of his face, but McElligott says his grandchildren began to question why his face was uneven.
“My left arm was always more tan than my right, because a lot of the time I had the window open (since) we didn’t have A.C.,” McElligott says.
He went to have the sun damage removed from his face when Dr. Jennifer Gordon, a dermatology resident at UT Southwestern, treated him and submitted the case study to the New England Journal of Medicine.
“We think it’s because it (UVA) can penetrate more deeply into the skin than UVB and affect your collagen and elasticity,” she said. “When you destroy those that’s what gives you the aging appearance that we see.”