The Aging Process: Part 1
The Aging Process: Part 2
Causes of skin aging
As our skin ages, we develop fine lines, wrinkles, and creases in our skin. This process occurs naturally (called chronological aging in medical circles), and is accelerated by exposure to ultraviolet light (called photo aging). Your skin’s individual aging pattern is a culmination of your personal chronological aging (usually genetic), added to the amount of photo aging your skin absorbs over time. Photo aging is, of course, a major problem for those of us who live and play in Colorado – where 300 days a year of sun combined with the high altitude virtually guarantee that your skin is accumulating a fair amount of photo damage every year!
How the skin responds to photo aging depends a great deal on how much melanin is present. For example, pale or white skin burns much more easily and tends to tan slowly and inadequately, whereas darker skin tends to burn less and tan without difficulty. A person’s general health also has a large effect on the skin’s ability to resist environmental damage. Smoking for example, decreases the skin’s ability to protect itself, leading to faster formation of lines and wrinkles, whereas good nutrition and exercise helps the skin resist damage and protect itself.
Some wrinkles are caused by muscles contracting. These wrinkles are caused “dynamic wrinkles” and they occur in the upper face. These are the lines you get across your forehead, between your brows, and around your eyes (crow’s feet). They are caused by the muscles of the upper face puling the skin every time you make certain expressions (frowning, for example, or raising your eyebrows). Over time, this pulling on the skin leads to the collagen losing its “snap” – much like a rubber band that has been used too much. When the collagen loses its elasticity, the skin can’t “bounce back” after the muscles pull it into an expression and that creates lines that stay behind, even when the muscle is no longer pulling at the skin. This type of wrinkle is best treated through relaxing the muscles with Botox.
A final cause of some wrinkles is good, old-fashioned gravity. In the same way that muscles puling at the skin can cause collagen to break down and lose its elastic properties – gravity pulling at skin can do the same. This happens in the places that you would think that it would – the jowls, neck, and under the eyes.
To summarize – the formation of lines and wrinkles on the face is controlled by:
- The genetic process aging itself (chronological aging)
- Injury from the sun (photo aging)
- Muscle activity (dynamic wrinkles – treated with Botox)
- The effects of gravity (skin laxity and sagging)
- Smoking or other environmental factors
Treatment of Fine lines and Wrinkles
Fine lines and wrinkles can be treated in a number of different ways. Remarkable changes in facial appearance can be obtained with the right combination of treatments, giving a younger appearance and improving complexion. Treatment of aging skin includes (a) measures to prevent against further UV damage, (b) medical grade skin care to use at home on a regular basis, and (c) aesthetic procedures such as lasers or peels to reverse existing damage.
First, and most important, is prevention with appropriate sunscreens and moisturizer on exposed areas daily, avoiding smoking, and other pollutants that are harmful to your skin. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of regular use of sunscreen! Photodamage is the single biggest culprit when it comes to aging of the skin – and it is preventable! Aging skin also feels and looks better when moisturizers are applied regularly. These improve the water-holding capacity of the skin, and a cream cleanser should be used instead of soap to help the skin retain its valuable moisture.
Treatment with medical-grade skin care products is another cornerstone of any anti-aging care regimen. Many cosmeceutical grade products include anti-aging ingredients such as topical retinoids, vitamin C, and Alpha Hydroxy Acids (such as lactic, salycilate, and hyaluronic). Topical retinoids are derivatives of vitamin A which have known anti-aging properties. When used between 4 and 10 months they have been proved over and over again in medical studies to even out pigments, and reduce fine lines and wrinkles. While retinoids are powerful and effective tools, most people will have redness and scaling in the first few weeks to months of use (called retinoid dermatitis). For some people, this makes using retinoids more frustrating than fruitful. Come in to Restōr to have a free consult with one of our skin specialists to determine the correct treatments for your skin type.
Another category of treatments for fine lines and wrinkles is resurfacing. Resurfacing refers to various techniques in which the top layers of the epidermis are peeled off using chemical or mechanical means. Peels may even out pigmentation and improve skin texture. They can improve fine lines but have no effect on dynamic lines or deeper creases. At Restōr we have the best in resurfacing procedures such as dermaplaning and microdermabrasion, a variety of chemical peels.
Finally, modern laser treatments can be used to even out pigments, and smooth away fine lines and wrinkles, through total skin rejuvenation. Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), a non-invasive therapy can remove unwanted brown and red spots caused by photo damage. A Laser genesis package can induce the formation of new collagen and help improve the appearance of facial lines and wrinkles. A full resurfacing laser such as the Pearl can remove 5-7 years from the skin – reducing skin laxity, erasing photo damage, and removing fine lines and wrinkles in one treatment! At Restōr we are experts in all of these therapies – come in for your free consult with Dr. Waples to learn more, and to find out which one is right for you.
Treatment of Skin Laxity
The skin also loses its elasticity over time and is usually the result of losing fat cells under the skin, the loss of natural collagen and elastin fibers in the skin, and of course, gravity which pulls even further on lax tissue. Skin laxity can be treated with certain kinds of lasers, as well as with surgery. Read more about skin laxity here. Come in to Restōr to learn more about your options!