Naturally you can’t expect to go through life looking as though you’d never lived it. And probably you wouldn’t even want to. But if, when you look into your mirror, you’re worried about those lines and folds on your face that weren’t always there, here’s good news.
Today experts know more about what causes skin aging, and therefore what can be done to slow down the process. There are a variety of techniques and products available to help your face look smoother.
You may wonder what wrinkles actually are, and may be confused by the wide range of commercial and medical approaches available to deal with them. To get the facts. We asked three American dermatologists and a plastic surgeon the questions that may be on your mind.
1. What causes wrinkles?
Wrinkles is a confusing term. Most people don’t realize that you have to distinguish between lines in the face and extra folds of skin.
The lines are there from birth, but aren’t visible. As a result of age and hereditary factors, they become more deeply etched into the skin. These lines are at right angles to facial muscles. The more you use the muscles, the more you stretch the skin.
Stretching eventually causes extra folds of skin to form around the lines and makes them still more obvious. You can compare this process to what happens to a rubber band – after you stretch it a lot it loses its bounce.
Stretched-out skin is a condition that can be helped. There isn’t a great deal that can be done for lines. Whether wrinkles are caused by excess skin or lines determines how a doctor would treat them. It’s for him to decide; don’t try to diagnose yourself.
2. Why do some people look more wrinkled than others?
The amount of sun exposure is a major factor. As you use your features you stretch your skin, but the effect is greater in skin that’s been damaged by the sun.
3. What happens to the skin?
A number of changes take place. The dermis or deeper layer of the skin contains elastic fibers made of a protein called elastin which allows the skin to return to its shape when stretched. With age or sun exposure these fibers become fragmented and can’t do their work.
The dermis also contains layers of collagen, another protein which support the skin and holds it in place. With age, collagen fibers are replaced by a structurally inferior protein.
In addition, there’s an accentuation of the normal lines of the epidermis or outer skin layer. Everyone has these lines, but exposure to the sun makes them more visible. Still another age-related change is a loss of moisture from the epidermis.
4. What is the most important thing one can do to keep skin looking as young as possible?
Try to avoid the sun’s rays between the hours of 10 and four, and certainly don’t work at getting that tan everyone likes to boast about. Tanning ages the skin.
Also use a sunscreen preparation every day. This isn’t just for sunburn but for ordinary exposure to light.
5. What’s the best kind of sunscreen?
Products containing Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), anthranilates or oxybenzones are very good for filtering out the sun’s rays. Some have more blocking power than others. The last is possibly the best blocking agent.
6. Some people think that if they don’t wash their faces with soap and water they’ll slow down skin aging. It that true?
No. Wrinkling will not be either increased or prevented by using soap and water.
7. Can vitamins or special diets keep the skin from wrinkling?
If you eat a properly balanced diet including fruits and vegetables daily, you’re giving your skin all the nutritional protection you can. We don’t think vitamin pills are necessary. You shouldn’t look for nutrition in a bottle.
8. Do moisturizing creams and lotions help?
Yes. One reason skin looks dry is that there’s a lack of water. You could puff it out by providing water itself, but this would involve using wet compresses for 30 minutes three times a day. Plain water applied to the skin dries too quickly to do any good.
But moisturizing products combine water with a cream that keeps the fluid from drying out. We suggest using one twice a day.
9. Are face masks beneficial?
Yes. These also add moisture to superficial layers temporarily. By filling out tiny lines, they may make the skin look smoother for several hours after their use. If you were going somewhere and wanted to look special, masks would help.
10. Are hormone creams a good idea?
We don’t recommend them any more. Hormone creams can be absorbed into the system. Since the hormones themselves are potentially dangerous, We wouldn’t recommend these products.
11. What is involved in a face-lift?
There are many variations. The basic procedure is as follows:
First, we make incisions above the hairline and in natural folds around the ears and eyelids. Then we separate the skin from underlying muscles and other structures. Next, we pull the skin up so that it’s more taut. After that, we remove excess skin and close the incision.
It should be understood that a face-lift can correct problems caused by excess skin, but won’t eliminate deep lines.
12. Are scars visible following a face-lift?
Because of where incisions are made, scars are relatively imperceptible. But a woman may have to comb her hair forward and if she isn’t willing to do this she should reconsider the operation.
13. What is a mini-lift?
A mini-lift involves the removal of a small strip of tissue in front of the ear, behind the ear, or both. It’s not recommended. Because the skin has not been repositioned over the underlying structures, it’s pulled back to its original position in a short time. The improvement lasts only a few months at best.
Even more serious is the fact that failure to reposition the skin completely in this operation creates excess tension on areas where incisions have been made. The result can be much more unsightly scarring in conspicuous areas than one normally encounters in a face-lift.
14. What is liquid silicone, and is it likely that it will ever be used to correct the effects of aging?
Liquid silicone is a crystal-clear, viscous, oily fluid. We believe it may turn out to be useful for treating a very limited number of conditions where missing tissue needs to be replaced.
Such conditions would include some rare congenital deformities and changes associated with certain rare diseases. It might also be used in very small amounts to correct minor defects after rhinoplasties (nose jobs) and possibly as an adjunct to a face-lift (to blunt the look of those deep folds between the eyes and the furrows that separate the cheeks from the upper lip on either side).
However, the sagging look of the face is not caused by missing tissue, but by folds of excess skin. If you want to correct them, the proper approach is to remove the extra skin by means of surgery. You couldn’t use silicone to correct either these folds or facial lines without changing the contour of the face.
There’s also the danger that if you used too much silicone or placed it improperly, it could migrate to another part of the face.
15. Is there anything that can help reduce facial lines?
Dermabrasion and chemical peels can treat lines. But they can’t eradicate them. A patient should be aware there are risks in both procedures.
16. What is dermabrasion?
Dermabrasion is the use of a wheel containing wire bristles to peel the skin. The old skin is replaced by new skin which, because it has superior collagen, looks smoother. The face is anesthetized by means of a cold material which is sprayed on. After anesthesia wears off. there’s usually pain, perhaps for as long as two weeks.
17. How do you look after dermabrasion?
At first your face looks like your knee does when you’ve skinned it. By two weeks there’s a thin, red skin which gradually thickens. In a month the effects of this treatment won’t be too noticeable under cosmetics. Ninety percent of the healing will have taken place in six months, and 98 percent in one to two years.
18. What are the risks of dermabrasion?
The major complication is a change in pigment in the treated area. The new skin may be lighter or darker than surrounding skin. Other serious risks are infection and scarring. There may also be blackheads caused by blockage of oil glands, recurrent reddening of the face because the new skin is thinner, and new birthmarks or blood vessels in treated areas.
19. What is a chemical peel?
This involves the application of an acid, usually either phenol or trichloroacetic acid, to the face. These peel less deeply than dermabrasion. It is usually on an outpatient basis without anesthesia.
20. How do you look following this procedure?
The skin forms scabs which last about two weeks. After that there’s a new, pink skin which gradually darkens and thickens. In one month you’ll look reasonably good. Ninety-five percent of healing is completed in two to six months.
21. What are the risks of chemical peels?
Besides all the risks involved in dermabrasion, there’s the added possibility that chemicals will be absorbed into the system and cause damage to the kidneys. While a chemical peel done with phenol or trichloroacetic acid is less likely to cause scarring than dermabrasion, there’s also the possibility that it won’t make any beneficial change.
22. Is there any hope of new treatments for wrinkles?
Yes. Here at New York University we’ve begun testing a cream which, when applied to the face, might improve skin that’s begun to sag. We believe it may work because the ingredients in this cream have been shown to help new collagen formation in wound healing.
Here are 22 skin care tips and facial exercises to get rid of wrinkles:
- Opening your mouth as wide as possible to lengthen the face, then squeezing it tight to make your face as small as you can.
- Rolling your head around in wide circles to help retain a firm jaw line and stretch neck muscles.
- Holding your mouth open and pulling down on the bottom teeth with your fingers, then trying to close your mouth against the pressure.
- Sticking your tongue out as far as you can to try to touch the tip of your nose.
- Puffing out your cheeks, rolling the air from side to side and blowing it out.
- Getting enough sleep: lack of sleep is a great skin ager. It’s an essential part of the beauty cycle which is why most beautiful models are rarely seen out late night after night.
- Avoid alcohol: excessive alcohol consumption dehydrates the tissues and enlarges the pores.
- Don’t wear makeup all day also dries out the skin. Even if you are going out for the evening, remove all your makeup and let your skin breathe. Even 10 minutes can make a beautiful difference.
- Never use extremes of water temperature. Too hot or too cold water will cause disruptions in tiny facial blood vessels that leave permanent red blemishes in their wake.
- Sun and wind are the two most damaging elements. If you are going out in the sun, always wear good sunglasses to prevent squinting and as protection for the delicate tissues around the eyes.
- Avoid smoking as it can discolor the skin and squinting from cigarette smoke hastens wrinkles on the forehead.
- Facial mannerisms create likely areas for facial lines. Use a special facial tape or sticky tape smoothed across vulnerable spots and relax, wearing it for as long as possible. Do not stretch or pull the skin when you remove the tape as this can also cause damage.
- Avoid tension and anger. Negative emotions are an open door to invite wrinkles. Learn to relax to ease tension. Closing the eyes and gently stroking the forehead can be beneficial. Wear well-fitting clothes and shoes: they also help you look more relaxed.
- Drink plenty of water to cleanse your system and exercise regularly to keep your blood circulating evenly, ensuring your facial muscles are not starved of nutrients.
- Use a small massager to apply a light moisturizer on your face. Go gently in small circles around the corners of the mouth and eyes, where laughter lines and crow’s feet occur, making sure the skin is lubricated so you don’t stretch the tissues.
- Always allow plenty of time for thorough skin cleansing in the morning and at night.
- Avoid using soap: it can be a contributing factor in making the skin dry and harsh. Use instead a cleanser and toner suited to your skin type.
- Treat yourself to a facial sauna once a week to rid the pores of impurities. After treatment, splash your face with cold water, gently pat dry and apply a moisturizer.
- Use a light foundation and blusher rather than heavy creams and powder, to minimize makeup build-up.
- Discover your skin type and use the products created to suit it.
- Start protecting your face as early as possible to stall those lines that give away your age. And be sure you wear a protective cream every day.
- Every facial movement you make can cause a line, like crushing the fabric in a dress. If you use something to make your skin softer, the chances of wrinkling are kept to a minimum.