Written by: Blaise Geyer PA-C
Ever wish that our skin aged more like Benjamin Button did? Unfortunately, the reality is that when we are young our skin is like a grape- tight, plump and hydrated, but as we get older our skin starts to more closely resemble a raisin. Why is this the case?
The essential building blocks of the skin are collagen (this gives the skin its firmness and support to prevent wrinkles), elastin (this allows the skin to be elastic and rebound to prevent sagging), and hyaluronic acid (aka HA; this holds moisture in to keep skin plump and hydrated). They are abundant in young skin, however, due to intrinsic and extrinsic factors, over time the building blocks start to break down and production decreases. You can thank these changes for causing you to look like a wrinkled prune!
Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Aging
Skin aging is multifactorial, a result of two main types of aging- Intrinsic and Extrinsic Aging. Intrinsic aging is the natural, chronological aging process that takes place over the years regardless of outside influences. This type of aging is due to free radicals, hormones, and our body’s inability to perfectly repair damaged skin. This leads to decreased levels of collagen, elastin, and HA. In fact, after the age of 20, a person produces about 1 percent less collagen in the skin each year. This causes the skin to become more thin and fragile. Although this type of aging is inevitable and there is some wrinkle formation as a result, it is slight in comparison to skin aging due to extrinsic factors.
Extrinsic aging is a result of lifestyle (diet, tobacco use), sun exposure, and environmental damages (pollution). Effects of extrinsic aging cause the outermost layer of the epidermis (stratum corneum) to become thicker with more dead skin cells, cause precancerous and cancerous lesions, freckles and sun spot formation, and result in an exaggerated loss of collagen, elastin and HA. These changes create the appearance of skin roughness, dullness, dryness, uneven tone, brown patches, thin skin and deep wrinkles.
Prevention is Key
Unfortunately, while fully preventing wrinkles is not possible, taking care of your skin can help keep you looking closer to a grape than a full on raisin. It is crucial that you start taking care of your skin before these changes start to take place. I think the most important ways to do this is:
- By wearing a broad-spectrum SPF 30+ or higher sunscreen with a zinc- or titanium base.
- Using retinoic acid (I like SkinBetter’s AlphaRet) nightly after the age of 25 to boost collagen production and increase exfoliation and cell turnover.
- Using a Growth factor to improve your production of collagen and elastin to prevent wrinkles and skin laxity (my favorite is SkinMedica’s TNS Advanced+).
Pairing these daily products with collagen boosting procedures like chemical peels, ablative and non-ablative lasers will also improve collagen and lead to better results. Lastly, Botox treatments every 3-4 months will relax the muscles and prevent various static wrinkles (lines at rest) from forming. So don’t delay and trick that skin of yours to think it is aging in reverse. We can’t wait to see you!