Wrinkles and fine lines, an inevitable part of aging, can make a person look old, sad, angry or tired. To look younger and/or more refreshed, many people who have wrinkles and fine lines seek treatment. Fortunately, there are countless options, including creams, dermal fillers, peels, laser treatments and surgery, for improving the look of the skin.
How Wrinkles and Fine Lines Form
The skin is made up of three layers: the epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous tissue, each of which contributes to the full, strong and smooth skin that we are born with. The epidermis, which is the outer layer, protects the skin from environmental toxins with special cells called keratinocytes. Underneath the epidermis is the dermis layer, which contains connective tissue, including collagen, elastin and other proteins, that provide strength and flexibility to the skin. The subcutaneous tissue at the bottom layer is made up of fat cells that insulate the body, and is what makes the skin look full and plump.
Each of these layers is affected by aging, genetics and environmental factors, which can make the skin sag and look more wrinkled. The skin's layers tend to thin as production of tissue slows down, making skin more susceptible to damage and changes because it lacks its previous support and fast-repair abilities. The result is thinner skin with visible lines and wrinkles that can no longer be filled in by collagen and fat cells.
Causes of Wrinkles and Fine Lines
Wrinkles and fine lines are the result of several factors, some of which are beyond a person's control. During aging, skin naturally thins and loses elasticity, which allows lines and creases to form, usually around the eyes, on the forehead and at the corners of the mouth. Through years of repeated muscle contraction, lines and wrinkles tend to develop in these areas. Certain people may be genetically prone to getting wrinkles.
Many people also develop wrinkles and other unwanted skin changes as a result of excessive exposure to harmful substances over a long period of time. Ultraviolet light from the sun or artificial tanning is the leading cause of premature aging; it causes collagen and elastin fibers to break down, resulting in sagging, weakened skin that can more easily develop wrinkles and other signs of aging. Smoking also affects the skin; it can result in early aging by triggering changes in the skin's blood supply. These factors lead to photoaging, which accounts for up to 90 percent of premature skin aging.
Treatments for Wrinkles and Fine Lines
There are many treatments, including the following, designed to improve skin and make the patient look younger:
- Topical creams
- Laser treatments
- Chemical peels
- Soft-tissue fillers
The treatment chosen depends on the cause and severity of wrinkles, as well as the age and personal preference of the patient.
Prevention of Wrinkles and Fine Lines
There are many ways to prevent or reduce the effects of photoaging. If avoiding the sun is not possible, it is essential to use sunscreen with an adequate SPF, and wear a hat and/or protective clothing. Avoiding smoking, eating a balanced diet and minimizing stress also help skin to look its best.
Long term and repeated exposure to sunlight, especially ultraviolet light, can cause a variety of cosmetic and medical problems related to the skin, commonly referred to as sun damage. Sun damage can affect any area of the skin as a result of excessive exposure to the ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun. Sun damage most commonly occurs on the face, hands and arms, and may lead to sun spots, age spots, rough skin and wrinkles. Years of sun exposure can also lead to premature aging and skin cancer. Some individuals may notice skin lesions that are a form of actinic keratosis, which is is a precancerous skin condition that develops from years of sun exposure.
The best treatment against sun damage is preventing it from occurring in the first place. It is important to wear sunscreen on a daily basis and avoid excessive exposure to the sun, especially during mid-day hours when the sun is strongest. Additional ways to prevent sun damage include:
- Always wear sun screen with an SPF of at least 15
- Wear a hat in the sun
- Wear long sleeves and long pants
- Avoid tanning beds and salons
Once sun damage has occurred, there are options available to cosmetically improve damage that has already been suffered. Injectable fillers such as collagen help to fill out lines and wrinkles to give the skin a fuller, smoother look and feel. Phototherapy can reduce the appearance of uneven pigmentation and laser treatments may also be effective for these conditions. Chemical peels and microdermabrasion soften and rejuvenate the skin by removing old and dead layers of skin cells. This helps to promote new growth and enhanced texture of the skin. resulting in a noticeable renewal of the skin.
Individuals that notice any suspicious growths or skin patches should immediately consult with a doctor, as early detection is extremely important in treating any forms of skin cancer that may have developed as a result of sun damage.