By Dr. Lydia Evans
It seems to happen to almost all of us. We glance in the mirror or look at a photograph and wonder “when did that happen?”
While aging of our skin is inevitable, there is much we can do to make the process more tolerable.Collagen fibers are the building blocks of your skin; they provide basic structural support, while elastin fibers create elasticity.
These fibers begin to deteriorate in our 30’s, a process that is accelerated by sun exposure and smoking. The breakdown of these fibers leads to fine lines, and then deeper wrinkles and sagging. Discolorations, also from sun exposure, add to the melee. Individual attitudes about these changes vary widely. Some want to do something, or everything, to turn back the clock, others are content to allow changes to proceed.
What is important for everyone is to attend to your skin’s health. This means regular use of a UVA/UVB sunscreen. And if you smoke, try to quit.
Beyond these important solutions, it is a question of how pro-active you wish to be. Facial products that contain alpha hydroxy (glycolic) acids, or retinoids can stimulate collagen production and lighten discolorations.
Superficial chemical peels and microdermabrasions, performed in a series of three to six treatments and not very aggressive, can make the skin look fresher.
More significant improvements occur with injected agents, including: Botox for expression lines, fillers (Juvaderm, Restylane) for lines that remain when your skin is relaxed, and Sculptra for adding volume to areas that have “sunk-in.” Lasers like V-beam for blood vessels and Fraxel for lines and brown spots can change the skin’s appearance rather dramatically, while deep ultrasound treatments with Ulthera significantly improve sagging.
There is no doubt, when you look better, you feel better. Whatever you choose, it is never too late to care for your skin.
Lydia Evans, M.D., a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology and the consulting dermatologist to L’Oreal since 2000, has practiced dermatology in Chappaqua since 1993.