Aging Skin: Today's Perspective

Whether you call aging an enemy or a process depends on perspective and outlook. Not long ago, the symptoms of aging were largely considered inevitable and unstoppable, and that was to a large extent true.

While science hasn't been able to solve aging itself, there are now many ways to reduce, delay, and treat many of the symptoms of aging.

Aging

When it comes to the skin, there are two types of aging: Genetic or natural aging, and photo-aging. The first type is what most people ascribe to all sorts of symptoms like wrinkles or uneven skin tone, but in reality, many of these symptoms are a result of photo-aging, caused by overexposure to the sun. Like natural aging, photo-aging is also progressive and cumulative. Damage from UV light is cumulative, so the more years of sun exposure, the more that the damage will accumulate so all else being equal, the person who has been around longer is more likely to have greater total sun exposure as well.

Prevention

The main difference between the two types of aging is that we can't choose our genetics, but we can choose our lifestyle. The first type of aging-genetic or natural-is at least at this time, inevitable although there is some interesting theoretical research in gerontology about the possibility of renewing damage at the cellular level. The second type of aging can definitely be managed and controlled.

  • Wear broad spectrum sunscreen on a regular basis. UVA light which causes long-term damage like wrinkling, is constant throughout the year regardless of season, and can penetrate windows and clouds.
  • Sun damage is cumulative. Make sure that your children are protected from the sun. While the symptoms may not become visible until they get older, the damage is constantly being accumulated by the body.
  • Photo damage doesn't just accelerate natural aging and progress cosmetic symptoms like wrinkling or blotchy skin, but it is a critical factor in overall skin cancer risk.

Treatment

Treatments are where dermatology has progressed in leaps and bounds in the last few decades. Combined with better public awareness of the aging effect of sun exposure, people are looking younger than their actual age now. There are many targeted treatments that help resolve specific skin problems. While treatments will not stop the natural aging process or reverse the photo-damage that your skin has already taken, it will reverse the visible symptoms of aging such as skin discoloration, or wrinkling. There are now many procedures that can help improve the skin without expensive surgical procedures with significant recovery periods. Many of these treatments like Botox, dermal fillers, or laser treatments, can be completed within an hour at a dermatologist's office, with almost no recovery time. Many of these procedures can be done during lunch break without any time needed for recovery.

  • Practice smart sun habits. This should be the baseline of all anti-aging treatment. Costly treatments are less effective if overexposure to the sun is a part of your lifestyle.
  • Have an effective skincare regimen. Use mild cleansers instead of harsh soaps. Anti-aging creams, gels, and serums that contain key active ingredients like retinol, tretinoin, vitamin C, peptides, or stem cell ingredients can provide some extra nutrients to the skin.
  • Upper face wrinkling around the forehead and surrounding the eyes are called dynamic wrinkles and occur due to muscle movement. These can be treated with neuromodulators like Botox, Xeomin, or Dysport. These treatments have been around for a long time and have proven their efficacy and safety in laboratories as well as on the market. The drawback is that they are temporary measures lasting from 6 to 18 months as the body metabolizes these products over time.
  • The lower face ages slightly differently with changes focused on volume loss and skin sagging. Jowls, nasolabial folds, and marionette lines are some common problems seen in this area. Dermal fillers are very effective treatments for many of these problems in the lower face restoring much of the natural plumpness that is lost over time.
  • Pigmentation problems such as melasma, sun spots, and overall uneven skin tone can be addressed with lasers, chemical peels, and microdermabrasion.
  • Surgical procedures can make the most drastic changes to the face, and provide a longer term improvement, but also involve a higher risk as well as cost and recovery time.
  • Talk to a dermatologist about your goals, as well as lifestyle, and risks that you are willing to take, and find a solution that works well for you.

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Dr. Benjamin Barankin discusses in the video more about aging, various processes involved, and treatment options.