At some point in life most of us begin to worry about wrinkles. For some it happens as early as in their 20’s or 30’s and for many they begin thinking about it in their 40’s or 50’s. Regardless of when we become aware, skin wrinkling eventually occurs for one reason or another and we need to understand what causes it and how to treat it. The earlier you are aware of the causes of wrinkles, the better prepared you are to prevent them.
WHAT CAUSES WRINKLES?
As we age the skin begins to wrinkle and sag, two factors that cause us to look older even if we have been taking care of our bodies with healthy lifestyle choices and feel young. Smoking cigarettes and exposing the skin to the sun are two of the major causes of the skin wrinkling. At a young age, it is important to limit the amount of sun exposure and to avoid smoking in order to protect your skin from wrinkling sooner than later.
Elastin and collagen fibers are two constituents that contribute to strong and supple skin. As we age, these fibers decrease, and this leads to wrinkles. In addition, there is a layer of fat below the skin’s surface and this helps create structure and ; however, as we age, this fat layer thins, and this causes sagging skin.
It is difficult to avoid the sun totally, and as we in the Northeast spend a good amount of time indoors during inclement weather, it is even harder during the warmer months to stay out of the sun. The sun does provide us with healthy benefits with regard to Vitamin D and mental health as it just feels good; however, the ultraviolet radiation in sunlight is the most common cause of skin damage and wrinkles. Exposure to UV rays changes the skin and causes not only wrinkles and fine lines, it also causes uneven skin tone and brown spots in addition to red blotches and broken capillaries. These skin changes, unfortunately, make the skin appear older. UV rays also cause free radicals within the skin and this causes damage to elastin fibers and can contribute to wrinkles and skin cancer.
In addition to the sun, smoking is another huge contributor to wrinkles in addition to many other health risks. As a smoker, you may not see these changes in skin until you are in your 40’s and usually the first sign is fine lines around the mouth. Another cause of fine lines known as crow’s feet around the eyes is squinting. Frowning is another thing that causes wrinkles in the forehead. Genetics and age play a role as well; however, we have no control over these two risk factors, but we do have control of how much we squint, whether or not we choose to smoke, and how much time we spend in the sun!
HOW TO TREAT WRINKLES
Prevention is the key and we can achieve this by:
- Avoiding the sun during the strongest part of the day
- Wearing protective clothing when in the sun
- Use sunscreen on parts of the skin not protected by clothing
- Daily SPF 15 or 30 is effective in preventing wrinkles
- Wear makeup with SPF
- Use creams that contain SPF
- Never smoke, or quit smoking
- Avoid frowning
- Wear protective sunglasses and eyeglasses to prevent squinting
If these simple measures are not enough, you need to seek the advice of your doctor who may refer you to a dermatologist. Some other treatments for wrinkles include:
- Injection of botulinum toxin
- This causes paralysis of the muscles under the skin that cause deep wrinkles and fine lines around mouth and eyes.
- A single injection may last up to 6 months but varies according to the individual, and the number of wrinkles the individual has.
- A skilled doctor is needed to ensure there is no loss of power to those facial muscles responsible for facial expressions.
- An example is my aunt who could never close her eyes and had to sleep with an eye mask.This is extreme but may happen if not performed correctly.
- Laser resurfacing
- Resurfacing and threading are cosmetic procedures used for fine lines and wrinkles.
- Fractionated laser
- This procedure causes many tiny invisible wounds in the skin.
- When the skin begins to heal it promotes the regeneration of collagen and slowly fades wrinkles.
- 4-6 treatments around 4-6 weeks apart is generally needed
- Injection of a filler
- Filler is injected into the base of wrinkles and this helps to elevate or plump the skin and flatten the wrinkles.
- May last 6-9 months depending on wrinkle site, the product used, and the volume of the filler injected.
- Face lift
- Face lifts are performed by plastic surgeons and the most invasive of all procedures for facial rejuvenation.
As there are many treatments for wrinkles, the best option is prevention. Any treatment is costly and usually not covered by insurance as it is a cosmetic treatment. Becoming aware and practicing preventive measures at an early age are the best options of preventing wrinkles. Taking care of your skin is as important as taking care of any other part of your body and as such is best if done sooner than later. It is never too late to make changes that protect your skin and using proper skin care products may also help. For more information on products designed to protect skin click here.