When I see someone who is looking to rejuvenate their face, I find that it’s very important to first explain the underlying causes of the problem. One of the biggest misunderstandings about this topic is the idea that sun damage is the only culprit, when in reality the process involves multiple factors that occur below the skin as well. Let’s look at some of the biggest contributors to this problem:
Actinic damage – Caused by UV radiation from sun exposure, actinic damage manifests in the form of hyperpigmentation including red and brown spots, and loss of hydration.
Loss of collagen – Our skin also becomes looser and thinner over time because we lose about 1% of our collagen per year. This causes sagging and wrinkles.
Fat loss – The shrinking and migration of fat deposits in our face creates a hollow and sagging appearance in the face by distorting youthful contours.
Bone resorption – Facial aging is also caused by the change in the facial structure, such as the decrease in size of bones called the mandible and maxilla. This process reduces support for the overlying structures (like muscles and tendons), and causes the skin to fall toward the center of mouth and nose – a sort of inward rotation of our face.
So when we talk about facial aging, we have to remember that it’s much more than just skin deep. There are profound changes in the structures that can literally change the shape of the face over time.
Reversing Facial Aging
In order to achieve the best results from facial aging treatments each of the four components of aging must be addressed separately. For example, we can certainly use laser skin resurfacing to reduce hyperpigmentation, but it won’t reverse the facial volume loss.
Let’s take a closer look at what a truly complete anti aging strategy might look like:
- Sun Damage: This can be addressed through laser skin resurfacing, intense pulsed light therapy (photo facials), and chemical peels. It’s also helpful to use medical grade skin care products, like Jan Marini, to repair damage with antioxidants, retinols, glycolics and skin lighteners.
- Skin Thinning: Laser therapy is also a good way to address collagen loss. Some lasers work by causing micro damage to the skin, which causes the body to produce more collagen. Ultrasound treatments with Ultherapy are another way to produce a tightening effect on the face and neck with little down time.
- Volume Loss: Facial volume can be enhanced with hyaluronic acid fillers, like Juvederm Voluma and Restylane. The results are nearly immediate and can last up to 12 months in some cases. Other fillers, like Sculptra, can even help rebuild collagen at the treatment site and can be especially helpful with adding volume to areas that appear more gaunt.
- Changes in Facial Structure: Although many people will experience changes in underlying bone structure over time, a small percentage will see a very dramatic change. In such cases we can use facial implants to return face structure to a more youthful appearance.
Preventing Facial Aging
One of the best ways to treat facial aging is to prevent it in the first place.
Think of it this way; although you cannot stop your body from aging, you may exercise on a regular basis to maintain your cardiovascular health, muscle tone and flexibility. In the same way, you can take steps to mitigate dramatic facial aging.
Start by wearing sunscreen regularly – not just at the beach. You’ve probably heard this advice a million times by now, and there’s good reason for it – sun block works. So if you’re not using it, you’re only hurting yourself.
A Note on Skin Cancer
In addition to reducing skin aging, sun screen will also reduce your chances of developing skin cancer. Getting annual skin checks is also vital for catching this condition early.
By the way, if you think you’ll never get skin cancer, I’ll tell you this; none of my patients who came to me for skin cancer reconstruction surgery thought they would ever get cancer. Not one. And when they did develop it, the experience seriously up-ended their lives.
So take care of your skin now, while you have the opportunity. A little bit of effort now may save you a terrifying ride on an emotional rollercoaster in the future.
Ask Us a Question
If you have questions about facial aging, my staff and I will be happy to help. We can help you choose the right professional skin care products for your needs (20% off on Jan Marini items in May!) and will provide you with an unbiased recommendation for surgical and non-surgical facial aging treatment options. Just schedule a consultation and you’ll quickly see the welcoming and thoughtful environment we’ve created for our patients.
Please contact Illuminate Plastic Surgery to schedule an appointment with Dr. David Boudreault.