Jumping onto the anti-aging bandwagon?
Gone are the days when people reached a certain age and became proud of their wrinkles. Images of age-defying celebrities and the “cult of youth” have placed greater pressures on men and women to look young...so much so that our bathroom cabinets can often resemble local drugstore shelves with our hydrating creams, clay masks and collagen replacement serums; eye creams, night creams and DIY concoctions. Unsurprisingly, this desire to halt or even reverse the aging process is not a uniquely American phenomenon nor is it limited to women. For example, 33 percent of French girls between 15 and 19 regularly use anti-aging creams, while anti-aging products marketed to men have experienced dramatic growth in recent years.
Nonetheless, it’s worth mentioning that the prevalence or popularity of anti-aging therapies shouldn’t force an individual onto society’s “anti-aging bandwagon.” Indeed, there are celebrities who have been openly critical of this message. But for many of us, youthful skin can improve our well-being, leading to greater confidence and self-esteem. In this way, anti-aging therapies are akin to exercise; instead of the physical benefits associated with greater activity (e.g. decreased risk of stroke and heart disease), there are psychological benefits associated with maintaining an effective anti-aging skin care regime (e.g. positive outlook and self confidence).
Now, onto the issue of effectiveness: most anti-aging creams are moisturizer-based products with limited efficacy. In fact, in a study conducted by Consumer Reports, the authors suggest that the $1.5 billion spent on anti-wrinkle creams may be for naught; the most effective creams provide a barely perceptible reduction of wrinkles, less than 10 percent.
But don’t empty your cabinets just yet! A ten percent reduction in wrinkles might be sufficient for some individuals. Moreover, adding a cream to your anti-aging regimen is unlikely to hurt so consider purchasing products that contain antioxidants to protect the skin from free radicals (i.e retinol, Vitamin C), hydroxy acids to exfoliate the skin surface, and niacinamide to promote skin elasticity. There are other common anti-wrinkle ingredients you should consider when shopping.
Ultimately, the best preventative therapy for maintaining youthful skin or halting further damage is to protect the skin from sun with SPF 30 (or higher)-containing products. Also consider visiting a dermatologist’s office; at Lumos Dermatology, we create personalized skin care regimes for our patients based on an assessment of their skin type, condition and lifestyle. Additionally, our clinicians can prescribe prescription-grade creams or inject fillers (e.g. Botox, Juvederm) that can dramatically reduce or altogether remove wrinkles. Consider a visit to our office to learn more about anti-aging skin therapies and how you can improve the health of your skin.
More Wrinkles, More Advanced Treatments
If you have extensive wrinkles or fine lines, over-the-counter creams and lotions may insufficiently address your concerns. One of the more aggressive anti-aging treatments is called laser resurfacing and should be performed by a licensed dermatologist or PA specializing in dermatology. Laser resurfacing can decrease the appearance of wrinkles and scars, while also improving your complexion and skin tone by rejuvenating the skin epidermis and stimulating collagen production. Laser resurfacing outcomes have been been revolutionized by fractional technology. In fractional resurfacing, a laser is split or fractionated into a grid of microbeams. The grid pattern ensures that there are untreated intervening areas of skin surrounding the treated zones. These untreated areas help to maintain the skin’s stability and promote healing of adjacent treated skin and thus reduce downtime and side effects.
Currently there are two types of lasers used in fractional laser resurfacing treatments: ablative and nonablative.
The ablative laser works by delivering an intense beam of light directly to the skin, which vaporizes the epidermis while stimulating collagen fibers in the dermis underneath. Because the entire epidermis is removed, the skin can take a week to heal, but since a new epidermis is regenerated once healed, the results can be dramatic with a rejuvenated skin.
In contrast, treatment with the non-ablative laser leaves the epidermis untouched while only heating and stimulating the underlying collagen. This conservative approach results in less side effects and limited downtime of only 3-5 days due to its alternate mechanism of action.
The choice of which laser to use will ultimately depend on a variety of factors. For example, if you are unable to take a vacation from work, the ablative laser is not a practical option given the extended healing process required. Thus, for people with busy schedules, more frequent but less intense laser resurfacing options with the nonablative laser are best. However, since the ablative laser is more intense, it results in more dramatic improvement per treatment. Generally 3 to 4 non-ablative treatments is the equivalent to 1 ablative treatment. After treatment, a dermatologist can then suggest combinations of other therapies in order to realize the full potential of your treatment.
If you would like to learn more about anti-aging treatments and laser resurfacing technologies, please schedule an appointment to speak with a clinician.