What are the signs of aging, and how can we fight it? Aging is a universal biological process, but how it manifests can differ from person to person. We’re going to explore the topic of aging and how to deal with it.
Aging is a natural process that affects every person. It’s a cellular level change that we still have no fundamental solution to. Even the most advanced cosmetic procedures are unable to stop the process of aging itself. At the same time, even the smallest interventions like applying sunscreen or an anti-aging product can alter our appearance in positive ways.
Many visual symptoms of aging have to do with the skin, and naturally, our focus is often on the face.
- Loss of firmness and elasticity
- Loss of moisture
- Discoloration of the skin
- Thinning of the skin, visible blood vessels
Unfortunately, aging is more than skin-deep:
- The shape of the underlying structures of the face changes over time
- Fats deplete
- Bones recede
- Other supporting structures also change to create a hollow look
- Underlying sun damage
How people age and the speed at which these changes occur is unique to each individual. Genetics and environmental factors (lifestyle) will both play a role. Like many things in life, aging isn’t fair; some people will have lucky genetics. We can, however, control environmental factors like sun exposure and minimize other sources of damage by practicing healthy living.
Today, there are many interventions to slow down aging, and the options are plentiful. It can range from anti-aging products found at the local drugstore to a surgical procedure like a facelift. Whatever you choose, it’s important to remember that aging is a constant process. Even the most invasive cosmetic surgeries will not reverse or stop the underlying process of aging.
Common Treatment Options
How you choose to deal with aging is an entirely personal matter. Many choose to focus on lifestyle, doing little else to interfere with the aging process. Others are willing to go through every possible option to delay and counteract the effects of aging.
These are the most common types of anti-aging treatments in order of invasiveness. Generally, as risk and cost increase, so do the rewards of longer-lasting and profound changes in appearance.
Sun Protection and Anti-aging products (Over-The-Counter):
This is the first step in intervention, and it has many advantages. These products are available at retail or via online shopping.
|Easy access – These products can be found over the counter at local drug stores or malls. Sold widely.||Limited efficacy – skincare products are NOT drugs and are not regulated as such.|
|Affordable – Generally low cost, although the price points vary widely from product to product.||Exaggerated claims and the use of imagery to manipulate emotions are common. Be critical.|
|Lower risk of serious reactions – Adverse reactions to ingredients can occur from time to time for those with sensitive skin.||Generally, the products are effective, only for the duration that it is on the skin.|
|Sun protection is crucial in slowing down aging.||The price points aren’t necessarily correlated with efficacy. Do your research.|
Skincare combines well with any other anti-aging modality and is safe and low-cost. The key is to be realistic about your expectations. Skincare products should be in everyone’s regimen and budget. At the same time, we shouldn’t expect a similar effect to a more involved procedure like a facelift or a Botox injection.
At-Home Chemical Peels:
Light strength peels can be purchased over the counter. Dermabrasion products fit the same category. These aim to damage and remove the skin’s top layers, stimulating collagen and promoting new skin growth. The replaced skin is fresher.
|Easy access – Many can be purchased at stores or spas.||Limited efficacy: It can return some radiance and glow to the skin’s surface.|
|Low cost – Many products are under $100.||For people with sensitive skin, chemical peels can backfire.|
|Low risk – if used according to instructions. Chemical peels may be too harsh, leading to redness for those with sensitive skin.||Peels only have a temporary effect.|
|Removes the uppermost layer of the skin and encourages the growth of fresh skin.||It can be painful or irritating, especially for people with sensitive skin.|
Soft Procedures (Injectable fillers and Botox):
This is the fastest-growing cosmetic procedure in the last two decades. It is practical and affordable while being low risk and has almost no recovery time. Many of these lunch break Botox sessions allow you to go right back to work.
|More effective than OTC skincare products. Can reduce wrinkles and tighten the skin for several months.||BOTOX and injectable fillers are not permanent, and repeat treatments are required for maintenance.|
|Low risk – These procedures do not involve cutting, so the risk is much lower than cosmetic surgery. Hyaluronic acid fillers can be dissolved using hyaluronidase if needed.||The first risk factor is an adverse reaction. The second risk is that the outcome is undesirable to the patient. In general, though, Botox and injectable fillers have a high safety profile with decades of use.|
|Small or no recovery time – The recovery times are typically a day at most.||Some patients may not like the idea of needle injection.|
|Flexible results allowing for both subtle and drastic changes. Costs are not as high as surgical procedures ($500-$1000 for a BOTOX or injectable filler).||The cost, while low, is still considerable ($500-$1000). Retreatments are common, meaning that the cost over the years can be high.|
Surgery refers to invasive procedures that involve cutting, puncturing, or incising the skin. Some popular surgical procedures include Facelifts, Breast Augmentation, and Fat Transfers. See the top 10 popular cosmetic procedures for other examples. Like soft procedures, there are hundreds of surgical procedures with varying risks, costs, and goals.
|The most drastic changes are possible with surgical procedures.||The cost of surgical procedures is the highest, sometimes over five figures.|
|Can impact structural changes like receding bones or facial fat changes that are not possible with any other treatments.||The risk of procedures is higher than other interventions.|
|Surgical procedures such as facelifts can make longer-lasting impacts. Some procedures can turn back the clock by ten years.||Recovery time may last several months, and patients may be restricted from regular activity for months.|
|Procedures like facelifts can have a large impact if performed at the ideal age when structural changes occur.||Patients who may have health issues may be disqualified from elective surgery. Smokers will need to quit first.|
Focus on Your Priorities
There are plenty of options but no universally correct answer when it comes to anti-aging. Only you can decide what your priorities are, but we can help you ask yourself the right questions.
What are your anti-aging goals?
Anti-aging goals are unique to every individual. Everyone ages in different ways and also have differing feelings about their appearance. Try to reflect on and think about what you want, rather than what someone else may want.
- How old are you, what are your specific concerns?
- What risks are you willing to accept, and how much are you willing to spend?
What are your risks, and what risks are you willing to accept?
- Do you know the general rate of success for the procedure?
- Risks specific to you may be different from general risk. Do you have any medical conditions that may change your risk profile? Are you a smoker?
- Risk tolerance is individual. Some people are ok with certain risks such as poor aesthetic outcomes but may be conservative about the possibility of health issues.
What is your budget?
Money matters. The cost of high-end procedures has gotten lower as a whole, widening access. Consider the full cost of the procedure, taking into account factors like the need for complementary procedures, repeat treatments, or the possibility of unsatisfactory results.
- Do you understand the total cost of the procedures over time?
- Do you understand who pays if the procedure isn’t to your liking or if there was an error?
Although aging is universal, how we react to it is individual. We can choose to do nothing, focus on prevention and improving lifestyle, stick to skincare products, or are comfortable with surgical procedures. There isn’t a right or wrong answer.