Aging of skin
If life is about change, skin establishes this very fact. Our skin is at the mercy of various forces as we age: sun, harsh weather, and our own bad habits. How your skin ages depends on a variety of factors, such as your lifestyle, diet, heredity, and other personal habits.
Types of Aging
Research reveals that there are, in fact, two distinct types of aging:
Aging caused by the genes we inherit is termed as intrinsic or internal aging. The other type of aging called extrinsic or external aging which is caused by environmental factors, such as exposure to the sun’s rays.
Intrinsic aging is also known as the natural aging process. It is a continuous process that normally starts in our mid-20s. Within the skin, the production of collagen decelerates, and elastin, the substance which enables skin to snap back into place, has a bit less spring. Dead skin cells also do not shed as quickly and turnover of new skin cells may reduce a little. While these changes usually occur in our 20s, the signs of intrinsic aging normally remain invisible for decades. The signs of intrinsic aging include:
- Fine wrinkles
- Thin and transparent skin
- Loss of underlying fat, leading to hollowed cheeks and eye sockets as well as noticeable loss of firmness on the
- hands and neck
- Bones shrink away from the skin due to bone loss, which causes sagging skin
- Dry skin that may itch
- Inability to sweat sufficiently to cool the skin
- Graying hair that eventually turns white
- Hair loss
- Unwanted hair
- Nail plate thins, the half moons disappear, and ridges develops
Genes control the advancement of normal aging process. While some detect those first gray hairs in their 20s; others do not notice graying until their 40s. People with Werner’s syndrome which is a rare inherited condition that swiftly accelerates the normal aging process; usually appear aged in their 30s. Their hair can grow gray and thin significantly in their teens. Cataracts may also appear in their 20s. The average longevity for people with Werner’s syndrome is 46 years of age.
Extrinsic Aging-A number of extrinsic, or external, factors often act together with the normal aging process to accelerate the aging of our skin. Most premature aging is due to exposure to sun. Other external factors that contribute to the premature aging of our skin are repetitive facial expressions, gravity, sleeping positions, and even smoking.
The Sun and Skin Care
Too much exposure to sun allows the ultraviolet (UV) rays to damage certain fibers of our skin called elastin. The damage of elastin fibers causes the skin to droop, stretch, and lose its elasticity (ability to snap back after stretching). Apart from that the skin also bruises, tears more easily, and takes much time to heal. Sun damage may not be seen in youth, but it will appear later in life. Freckles, age spots, spider veins on the face, rough and leathery skin, fine wrinkles that disappear when stretched, loose skin, a blotchy complexion, actinic keratoses (thick wart-like, rough, reddish patches of skin), and skin cancer all of these can happen due to sun exposure. Scientific studies have shown that frequent ultraviolet (UV) exposure breaks down collagen and obstructs the synthesis of new collagen. The sun also affects our elastin. Sun-damaged skin stops to spring back more easily than skin protected from harmful UV rays. Skin also becomes slack, wrinkled, and leathery much earlier if you do not take measure to protect your skin from sunlight. People residing in sun-intense areas, such as Florida or Arizona, can have the signs of photo aging in their 20s and may also develop actinic keratoses (AKs) and skin cancer in their 20s.
Nothing can completely control sun damage, although the skin has the ability to repair itself. So, it’s never too late to take protection against sun exposure and skin cancer. Remember, you can delay changes associated with natural aging process by avoiding too much exposure to the sun and wearing sunscreen with an SPF 30 or more.
“Photo aging” is the term, used by dermatologists to describe the aging caused by exposure to the sun rays. The intensity of photo aging that develops depends on:
1) A person’s complexion
2) Their history of long-term or intense sun exposure.
People with fair complexion who have a history of sun exposure get more signs of photo aging than those with dark complexion. In the darkest complexion, the signs of photo aging are usually limited to fine wrinkles and a blotchy complexion.
If you do facial exercises to retain a younger-looking appearance, it is time to put an end to it. Recurring facial expressions actually lead to fine lines and wrinkles. Each time we use a facial muscle, a groove develops beneath the surface of the skin, which is why we see lines form with each facial expression. With the aging of skin it loses its elasticity and the skin stops springing back to its line-free state as before, and these grooves become permanently engraved on the face and appear as fine lines and wrinkles.
Gravity constantly pulls down our bodies. Changes related to gravity become more prominent as we age. In our 50s, when the skin’s elasticity declines significantly, the effects of gravity become obvious. It’s the Gravity that causes the tip of the nose to sag, the ears to elongate, the eyelids to fall, jowls to form, and the upper lip to disappear as the lower lip becomes more prominent.
Resting your face on the pillow in the similar way every night for years can lead to wrinkles which are called sleep lines; these wrinkles ultimately become etched on the surface of the skin and do not tend to disappear also when the head is not resting on the pillow. Women, who tend to sleep on their sides, are most likely to see these lines appear on their chin and cheeks where as, men generally notice these lines on the forehead since they usually sleep with the face pressed down on the pillow. Therefore, People habituated to sleep on their backs do not develop these wrinkles as their skin does not lie crumpled against the pillow.
Smoking-Cigarette smoking leads to biochemical changes in our bodies that speed up aging. Research reveals that a person who smokes 10 or more cigarettes a day for a minimum of 10 years is statistically more inclined to have deeply wrinkled, leathery skin than a nonsmoker. It is also evident that people who smoke for a long time tend to develop a harmful yellowish hue to their complexion. Moreover, a study conducted in 2002 revealed that facial wrinkles, while not yet visible to our eyes, can be detected under a microscope in smokers as young as 20.
Changes below the Skin-Loss of fat below the skin, especially in the cheeks, temples, chin, nose, and eye area may result in loosening skin elasticity, sunken eyes, and even a “skeletal” appearance. Bone loss, generally around the mouth and chin, may become evident after age 60 and leads to puckering of the skin around the mouth.
Cartilage loss in the nose leads to the drooping of the nasal tip and prominence of the bony structure in the nose.
Procedures developed to offer you a younger looking skin are called cosmetic procedures. Many dermatologists prefer cosmetic procedures. The medical training which these doctors receive makes them exceptionally qualified to judge your skin and determine which cosmetic procedures can safely and effectively reduce your signs of aging and benefit you.
Botulinum Rejuvenation /Botox /Botulinum toxin
Botulinum rejuvenation is a procedure which is capable to wipe out signs of years from the face and neck by reducing the appearance of lines and wrinkles. This is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures in the United States because the effects of injections are quick, side effects are minimal, and the procedure does not generally require downtime.
Signs of Aging Treated by Botox:
- Crow’s feet
- Forehead lines
- Frown lines between the eyebrows
- Neck bands and lines
Dermabrasion / Dermasanding / Mechanical resurfacing/Surgical skin planning
This cosmetic procedure plainly wipes away damaged skin. As the wound heals by time, new smoother, more radiant skin appears which is even in tone.
Signs of Aging Treated by Dermabrasion:
With the advancement in laser technology, dermabrasion is not used as much today as it was used before. Dermabrasion is still effective to treat:
- Primarily shallow scars resulting from acne
- Scars caused by an accident
- Wrinkles (especially deep lines that form above the lip).
After laser resurfacing, dermabrasion helps reduce the lines that differentiate the laser treated skin from the untreated skin.
Chemical Peeling Chemexfoliation/Dermapeeling/Refreshing peel
This procedure is useful in peeling away many visible signs of aging on the face, hands, neck, and chest. Once the skin heals, fewer wrinkles, less discoloration, and improved texture may be observed.
Signs of Aging Treated:
- Age spots
- Discoloration (blotchy complexion, uneven skin tone)
- Dull complexion
- Fine lines (especially under the eyes and around the mouth)
- Rough-feeling skin
As we age, our skin loses its youthful radiance and fullness. Fillers can restore lost volume particularly in our face and hands. Many fillers offer immediate results and no downtime.
Signs of Aging Treated Using Fillers:
Fillers can reduce signs of aging on the face and hands caused by the reduction of collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid. These are the components of our skin that provide it fullness. With a number of fillers available in the market, the following signs of aging can be treated:
- Brow, drooping
- Cheeks, hollow
- Chin, receding
- Creases, deep
- Eyes, hollow beneath
- Jaw line, beginning to lose firmness
- Lips, thinning
- Mouth, downturned
- Scars, which often become more noticeable with age, if shallow
- Wrinkles and fine lines, especially around the eyes and mouth
- Crinkly, thin skin
Laser Skin Rejuvenation
Today’s lasers can diminish many signs of aging — from early wrinkles and age spots to deep lines and spider veins. A laser procedure often can be performed in less than an hour and may require little or no downtime.
Numerous lasers and light devices are used to rejuvenate the skin. These devices are generally grouped into the following categories:
Non-ablative laser rejuvenation – No downtime.
Best for early signs of aging.
Intense pulsed light (IPL) – Not a laser, this light therapy penetrates deeper into the skin than a non-ablative laser. IPL does not injure the surface of the skin, so there is usually no downtime. IPL can improve skin texture and color as well as reduce pore size.
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) – This is a two-step procedure. First, a solution that makes the skin more sensitive to light is applied and left on for 30 minutes or longer. Then light from the laser or other source is beamed onto the treated area. Downtime is minimal. PDT decreases redness, reduces age spots and freckles, and improves the overall texture and appearance of the skin.
Fractional laser rejuvenation – Offers deeper rejuvenation. Recovery time is short. Best for diminishing signs of aging such as age spots, wrinkles, and skin discoloration.
Ablative laser resurfacing – Heats the skin to cause a visible wound, which means some downtime for recovery. Effective for deeper wrinkles and diminishing aging caused by years of unprotected sun exposure. A type of laser called a fractional ablative laser causes no visible wounds. Fractional ablative laser resurfacing requires less downtime than ablative laser resurfacing.
Signs of Aging Treated
Lasers and other light-based devices are used to treat these concerns:
- Age (sun) spots
- Dark circles under the eye
- Dry, dull skin
- Fine lines
- Hand rejuvenation (age spots, loose skin, and lines)
- Redness and flushing
- Seborrheic keratoses (flat only)
- Skin texture (to treat roughness)
- Skin tone (treats blotchy complexion and skin discoloration)
- Spider veins
- Stretch marks
- Tattoos removal
- Unwanted hair removal
- Varicose veins
It is useful to do away with small amount of fat and re-shape the treated area. This procedure is ideal for those who are at or near their ideal body weight and have an area of fat that seems resistant to diet and exercise.
Signs of Aging Treated by Liposuction:
Dermatologists follow a method called “tumescent liposuction” to safely and effectively remove fat from most parts of your body, such as:
- Arms (upper)
- Jaw line (to diminish jowls)
- Neck (effective for removing fat deposits in the neck that cause a droopy appearance)
- Thighs (inner and outer)
If you are keen to revitalize your skin without downtime, you may consider microdermabrasion. This is a resurfacing procedure that gently exfoliates, revealing the smoother, brighter, skin which is more even in tone.
Signs of Aging Treated by Microdermabrasion:
- Age spots and patches of darker skin
- Dullness that develops in aging skin
- Scars or very shallow scars
- Shallow wrinkles
- Uneven skin tone or texture
The microdermabrasion procedure is performed in a dermatologist’s office. This may be used to reduce signs of aging on the face, neck, chest, and hands.
Several non-invasive devices are capable to tighten the skin. Though these devices do not deliver the results of a surgical lifting method like a facelift, they can produce mild to modest tightening of skin by transmitting heat deep into the skin that causes some immediate tissue tightening and signals the body to start producing new collagen. As the new collagen forms in this process, skin looks firmer and tighter. There is virtually no downtime.
Technologies used for this non-invasive skin tightening include:
- Infrared laser
- Pulsed infrared light
Signs of Aging Treated:
Different devices are used to tighten skin of about every area of the body. Most people choose non-invasive skin tightening for different purposes. They include:
- Firm forehead and cheeks
- Lift the eyebrows
- Tighten jowls and neck
- Reduce wrinkles around the eyes
- Diminish the appearance of cellulite
- Tighten skin on the abdomen, buttocks, arms, and thighs
Dermatologists use the following procedures to provide treatment for spider and varicose veins:
Sclerotherapy – A solution that seals off the vein. It is injected with a very fine needle.
Ambulatory phlebectomy – In this process the vein is surgically removed. One small section can be removed at a time via micro-incisions.
Laser therapy or radiofrequency – In this method energy from the laser or radiofrequency device closes the vein.
All of these procedures can be carried out in a dermatologist’s office. The good thing is, after undergoing any of these procedures, the patient can walk out of the office as easily as before. Most people restart their normal activities the next day. It is to be noted that all these procedures have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for vein treatment.
Signs of Aging Treated
- Spider veins
- Varicose veins.
Wearing sunscreen every day can prevent further damage from the sun’s Ultra Violet (UV) rays, which can speed up signs of aging. Therefore sunscreen is essential for your skin. Sunscreen should be applied to all skin that will be exposed to sun including face and hands.
A facial moisturizer can also be used. It offers broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB protection) coverage. A facial moisturizer containing an SPF of at least 30 can be worn on days when you are not going to spend a lot of time outdoors. Try to avoid sun exposure especially during the hours when the sun is intense: 10:00 to 15:00 hours Don’t live in a false conception that cloudy sky can give protection against Ultra Violate rays.
Wear a hat, protective clothing and sun ray blocking glasses that can guard you against sun exposure, especially during peak hours.
Use the sunscreen that offers UVA and UVB protection (also called broad spectrum protection). Note that Sun Protection Factor (SPF) should be greater than 15 and applied at least 20 minutes before the skin is exposed to the sun. Sunscreen should also be reapplied after swimming or heavy sweating
Use antioxidant topical products (that usually includes ingredients such as vitamins A, C, E, selenium, coenzyme Q10, and alpha-lipoic acid) to protect the skin from sun damage and premature aging. Antioxidants effectively neutralize free radicals which will cause damage to skin cells.
Diet and Health
Adequate fluid intake (6 to 8 glasses of water per day) is required to hydrate skin, flush out toxins from your body, and to prevent anti-aging process.
A diet rich with whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables is essential. Use of healthy oils such as olive oil or flax seed oil, and reduction of animal fats (saturated fats) helps protect the skin against oxidative stress.
Exercising on daily basis helps promote capillary functioning, supply oxygen to the skin which is very important for healthy skin, and flushes out body toxins.
avoid large weight fluctuations
get adequate sleep
Do not tan. Getting a tan from the sun, a tanning bed, or sun lamp exposes you to harmful UV rays that can consequently accelerate aging, causing wrinkles, age spots, and a mottled complexion.
Moisturize: This traps water in the skin and help diminish the appearance of some fine lines (not deep lines) and make a complexion look brighter and younger.
Test products, even those labeled “hypoallergenic” are also useful. People often interpret “hypoallergenic” to mean that it prevents allergic reaction. But hypoallergenic actually denotes that there is a reduced chance of developing an allergic reaction. Most of the Dermatologists recommend testing products before applying them on your face.
To test, dab a small amount of hypoallergenic on your inner forearm twice a day for 4 to 5 days. If you do not experience any reaction, probably you will not have a reaction when you apply it on your face.
Limit the number of products. Using many chemical products on your skin, especially more than 1 anti-aging products leads to skin irritation. This makes signs of aging more visible most of the time. For best results, test 1 or 2 products and give them time to show its effect.
Give the product time to work. Despite the claims that most age-fighting products do not work overnight, while a moisturizer can reduce fine lines in a few days, you should know that most products take at least 6 weeks to work. In some cases it can take 3 months.
Use the product as directed. Some products contain active ingredients that can cause more harm than good when too much is used. Therefore, applying more than directed can lead to clogged pores, a mottled complexion, or other unwanted effects.
Avoid products that sting. Tingling and stinging do not indicate that the active ingredients are working. Burning, tingling, or stinging often denote that the product irritates your skin and is not suitable for you. Irritation makes signs of aging more prominent.
Continue using if you want to see the results. People often believe that once they get the results they expect, they can stop using a particular product. So, to continue getting the results, you must continue using the product.
Do not supplement with do-it-yourself procedures. Consumers occasionally prefer to buy lasers and kits for performing a cosmetic procedure (such as injecting botulinum toxin A) online. Such purchases can prove extremely harmful. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cautions consumers to “be vigilant about your purchases and steer clear of lower-priced cosmetic treatments.”