Tips for Younger-Looking Skin for Seniors
Despite what hundreds of infomercials would have you believe, there is no fountain of youth for skin. No pill or lotion will erase 20 years from your face overnight.
While you can’t stop or even slow down the internal aging process, to some extent you can control external factors that affect premature aging. Protecting your skin from the sun and quitting smoking are a good start.
Once you’ve noticed the signs of aging, you can take some steps to minimize them.
Combating fine lines and wrinkles
By our 40s and 50s, our skin has lost firmness, spring and moisture. We see fine lines and wrinkles.
Pale skin tends to wrinkle earlier than dark skin. People with pale skin also tend to develop more wrinkles and fine lines. When lines develop in dark skin, the lines tend to be deeper.
What causes wrinkles?
- Constant muscle movement. Lines and wrinkles may be deep in areas with lots of muscle movement, such as on the forehead or around the mouth.
- Sun, tanning beds and sun lamps. Lying outdoors in the sun, using a tanning bed or sun lamp, and even just being outdoors without sunscreen can cause wrinkles. Exposure to UV rays accelerates the breakdown of collagen and elastin, which causes many people to see wrinkles and fine lines before they reach their 40s and 50s.
- Smoking. People who smoke expose their skin to toxins that accelerate the aging of their skin. Repeated puckering to inhale can cause deep lines around the lips. Frequent squinting to avoid getting smoke in one’s eyes can cause noticeable crow’s feet.
What you can do at home?
The following are simple measures that you can take to help diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
- Use moisturizer developed especially for the face. This plumps up fine lines, which makes them less noticeable. Moisturizer is the secret ingredient in many anti-aging products that promise fewer wrinkles.
- Wear sunscreen every day–even on overcast days. This helps to protect your skin from further damage. Apply sunscreen to all skin that will not be covered by clothing. For best results, you should apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a sunscreen that offers a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or greater and broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) protection.
- Repair skin at night. Gently wash your face every night and then apply a product that contains retinol, followed by a good facial moisturizer. The retinol can stimulate the skin to make collagen, and the moisturizer seals in water.
- Stop smoking. Many people notice significant improvements after they stop smoking.
- Eat a healthful diet. A diet rich in fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains and other healthful foods can lead to healthier skin. Be sure to include some protein in your diet. Our skin is made of protein, so some protein is necessary for healthy skin.
What your doctor can do
At-home versions of chemical peels and microdermabrasion are on the market, but the active ingredients in these at-home treatments are much less potent than you would find at your dermatologist’s office.
Similarly, women who see results with over-the-counter cosmetics usually have very fine lines that sit near the surface of the skin. Non-prescription products generally work by sloughing off the outermost layer of skin or hydrating the skin to plump it. Wrinkles return when you stop using the product.
Thanks to ongoing research, dermatologists offer several treatments that can diminish the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and even deep lines. These treatments include:
- Prescription-strength wrinkle creams, serums and lotions, such as:
Source: American Academy of Dermatology
Reducing age spots
“Age spot” refers to various spots and bumps that appear on the skin with age. Some of these spots and bumps are harmless. Others can be a sign of skin cancer.
Most age spots develop on skin that has been badly damaged by the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Age spots also appear on people who use tanning beds and sun lamps. The cause of one type of age spot, seborrheic keratosis (SK), is not known. Some studies suggest that sun exposure plays a role.
What you can do at home
Sometimes what appears to be an age spot is actually melanoma or another type of skin cancer. With early detection and proper treatment, skin cancer has a high cure rate. That’s why it’s important to get any age spots checked by a dermatologist.
If your skin shows plenty of sun damage, using an over-the-counter product to diminish age spots may not be wise. It can delay diagnosis of a skin cancer. If your dermatologist gives you the OK, keep these pointers in mind:
- Apply sunscreen every day to all skin that will not be covered by clothing. You will not see results from a treatment for age spots if you do not protect your skin from UV rays. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a sunscreen that offers a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or greater and broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) protection.
- Look at the list of ingredients on a fade cream or similar product. Some fade creams and bleaching treatments are available without a prescription. They generally contain hydroquinone. Other products that may help fade age spots are called skin brighteners, lighteners or whiteners. These products usually contain soy, licorice, or kojic acid.
Prescription-strength products tend to be more effective than products you can buy without a prescription, even if the ingredient list looks similar.
- Products from outside the United States may contain an inaccurate list of ingredients. Some imported products contain mercury; others include high-potency steroids. While illegal, these products do find their way into the United States. Using a product that contains a high-potency steroid can cause paper-thin skin, acne and stretch marks. Some imported products contain much higher levels of hydroquinone than currently allowed in the United States. These high levels can irritate the skin and cause visible, light-colored halos to appear on the treated skin. To avoid buying imported products, it’s best to purchase them directly through a dermatologist.
What your doctor can do
Many patients say they do not see the results they want from products available without a prescription. Dermatologists offer the following treatments for those age spots that people often call “liver spots” or “sun spots”:
- Bleaching treatments (prescription strength)
- Chemical peeling
- Cryosurgery (freezing)
- Dermabrasion or microdermabrasion
- Laser skin resurfacing
More detail about some of these procedures is available here .
Source: American Academy of Dermatology
Treating more-advanced signs of aging
Using the latest advances, dermatologists successfully treat wrinkles, lax skin, age spots, spider veins and more. All cosmetic procedures, including microdermabrasion and chemical peels, should be performed by a board certified physician or under the doctor’s direct supervision. This greatly reduces the risk of complications.
Here are some of the services a dermatologist can provide:
Laser treatments/photorejuvenation. Light energy delivered by BroadBand Light (BBL) technology gently heats the upper layers of the skin. The heat absorbed by the targeted areas stimulates the skin cells to generate new collagen. This process helps restore the skin to its natural stage. The photothermal energy also targets and eliminates many of the fine vessels that cause redness and the unwanted melanin responsible for pigmented lesions.
Using different wavelengths and filters, a dermatologist can treat a broad range of skin conditions caused by skin aging and sun exposure, including:
- Pigmented lesions
- Skin firming
- Vascular conditions
- Skin resurfacing
- Wrinkle reduction
Botox. BOTOX® Cosmetic is a simple, nonsurgical, physician-administered treatment that can temporarily smooth moderate to severe frown lines between the brows in people ages 18 to 65. It is the only treatment of its type approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
A Botox treatment lasts about 10 minutes and involves a few tiny injections. Within days, you’ll see a noticeable improvement in frown lines between the brows. Results vary, but the improvement can last up to 4 months.
BOTOX Cosmetic is a purified protein produced by the Clostridium botulinum bacterium, which reduces the activity of the muscles that have caused those frown lines between the brows to form over time.
Fillers. Fillers like JUVÉDERM®, Restylane® and Restylane Lyft® are injected into the skin to restore volume to correct moderate to severe facial wrinkles and folds, such as lines from your nose to the corners of your mouth. Fillers offer natural-looking results by restoring your skin’s fullness.
They are composed of hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance in your skin that helps provide fullness and elasticity. Over time, skin loses hyaluronic acid. As it diminishes, skin loses volume, increasing the chances of wrinkles and folds to appear.
Juvéderm is intended to correct moderate to severe facial wrinkles and “nasolabial folds” (laugh lines). It is the only filler FDA-approved to last up to one year with only one treatment. Like Juvéderm, Restylane is well tolerated, nonsurgical, and long lasting (usually around six months). Restylane Lyft has larger gel particles and is intended to be injected deeper within the skin.
Chemical peels. “Chemical peel” is a general classification for a number of chemical treatments used to exfoliate and rejuvenate the skin. They improve fine wrinkles, small scars, and overall complexion. Peels range from gentle treatments to those that produce dramatic results. Different types include:
- Glycolic peel: A superficial chemical peel. Immediate results include tightness and improved feel of the skin. Over time pores shrink, brown lesions fade, and the overall texture of the skin improves.
- Vitalize peel: A slightly more intense chemical peel that offers faster results.
- TCA peel: These peels can vary in intensity from very mild to very dramatic results. Benefits include wrinkle and scar reduction, decreasing the signs of sun damage and improving pore size and complexion.
- Jessner’s peel: Designed to remove superficial layers of skin, it also tends to decrease oil production and open clogged pores.
Source: American Academy of Dermatology