Everyone knows that our skin changes as we age. It’s visible in the wrinkles and age spots. Not everyone knows why we age or that there are things that can be done to help prevent or reverse the signs of aging.
There are multiple factors involved in the aging process. Unfortunately, one of the biggest factors is genetics, one we can’t really do anything about. That being said, if you look at the elders in your family and know that you will have a tendency toward premature aging, there are things that you can do to help slow or prevent some of the aging process.
Sun and UV exposure are huge factors in the aging process. The radiation in the suns rays causes changes in the DNA of your skin cells, which can lead to skin cancers. In an attempt to limit damage, the body increases melanin production in response to sun exposure. This leads to age spots and hyperpigmentation. You can limit the effects of the sun by always wearing sunscreen. It should be a part of your daily skin care regimen. And don’t forget your neck and hands! They often show aging even before your face. Treatments with IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) can help to lighten existing age spots and also help with general rejuvenation of the skin.
Gravity combined with the loss of our facial fatty tissues leads to sagging skin, jowls and the “perpetual frown.” The general recommendation to prevent this is to replace the lost volume. In the past, surgical facelifts were very popular. They continue to have a place in the world of aesthetic medicine, but many of the patients who would have previously been treated with a facelift are now being treated with volume replacement via fillers or fat transfers. This gives a more natural look than the pulling involved in a surgical facelift. Fat transfers have the added benefit of rejuvenating the overlying skin as well.
Years of repetitive facial movements and expressions lead to persistent wrinkles. The way to prevent wrinkling is to prevent the movements. This is generally done with Botox, Dysport or other similar injections. Treatment of the lines can be done with Botox or with fillers such as Juvéderm or fat. Which treatment is used depends on the location, depth and the cause of the lines.
As we age our skin tends to thin. This is partially due to a slowing of skin cell regeneration and a thinner fat layer, but also to a lack of hydration in the tissues. Maintaining good hydration in your skin can be accomplished both internally and externally. Drinking lots of nonalcoholic, noncaffeinated fluids will help keep your skin hydrated. How do you know when you’re drinking enough? Your urine should be nearly colorless. Avoid bathing with very hot water. This can strip your skin of the oils that help it keep moisture in. Using a good moisturizer after you bathe can also help to replace and seal in moisture.
Skin becomes more lax as we age. This is related to a decrease in the collagen and elastin in the skin and also the loss of the fat layer. Multiple treatments aim to increase the collagen and elastin in the skin. PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma), microneedling, Sculptra injections and light/heat & laser treatments all increase collagen and/or elastin production to some extent. The distinctions are in cost, downtime and how much tightening you can get.
Aging starts the moment we are born. It’s never too early to start some of the preventative treatments. Aging doesn’t stop until the day we die. So it’s never too late to start them either!Jennifer Tighe de Soto, MD is a cosmetic surgeon who is board certified through the American Academy of Aesthetic Medicine. For more advice from Dr. de Soto on body sculpting and other aesthetic treatments please visit www.omahaliposuction.com where you can read her blog and see before and after photos of actual patients.