Ask the Doctor: What are the secrets to aging gracefully?
- Posted on: Feb 6 2019
While there is no magic wand to erase the hands of time, we have many tools now to help to keep our skin looking good and can prevent or significantly delay the need for plastic surgery. Most people these days want to avoid looking like they have had anything done and want the results to look natural. The field of facial aesthetics is really more of an art than a science, and it is based primarily on symmetry and architecture.
Just as the foundation of a house falls in over time, so too does our face. Loss of collagen, fat and bone cause our facial features to change over time. This loss of structural support is why the temples and cheeks become hollow and the nose and chin begin to recede. In other words, everything starts to fall south, like a table cloth falling off it’s table. There are many ways to help prevent and correct this inevitable change. There is hope!
What tools do we have to minimize this from happening to our faces?
#1- Wear sunscreen every day. The single most important step that you can do is to wear sunscreen every day to help minimize and prevent sun damage which in turn can lead to skin cancer, photo-aging and wrinkles.
#2 Botox and dermal fillers. There are many natural ways to restore lost facial volume and soften lines and wrinkles without looking “over-done” or expressionless. The combination of Botox and fillers can give a refreshed and rested look with minimal downtime. Filler is used to fill in lost volume and Botox is used to soften dynamic lines which are those that occur with movement.
#3 Sculptra® Aesthetic. For full face volumization (temples, cheeks and chin), I recommend Sculptra Aesthetic. It is the most natural of all of the injectables in that it is actually a collagen stimulator. Sculptra Aesthetic is an all-natural sugar molecule that works gradually over time to stimulate your own body’s production of collagen. Think of it like planting seeds in the garden and you wait for the garden to grow. Because collagen stimulation occurs slowly over months, the results are so gradual and natural looking that no one will know that you have had anything done. The goal is to get to full correction over a series of treatments, and then to maintain the correction with 1 to 2 vials every year or two. Sculptra Aesthetic gives a beautiful luminosity and lift to the skin that sets it apart from traditional fillers. I call it the “Sculptra glow.”
#4 Lasers. There are a variety of tools in laser medicine that can be used for sun damage, resurfacing, discoloration and skin tightening. One of the greatest innovations is Ultherapy. This uses the science of ultrasound technology to deliver heat to the skin to stimulate the production of collagen to tighten and lift the skin. We call it the “invisible facelift” because, at this point in time, it is about as good as we can get without going under the knife for lifting and tightening the skin on the face, neck and chest.
#5 Good skincare. If you are going to invest in facial treatments or just want healthy looking skin, then it is important to protect your investment at home. There are several categories in skin care which are backed by science with clinically proven results (this is key when choosing skin care products). In general, antioxidants in the morning followed by a sunscreen give a synergistic or added photo-protective effect. Retinoids, such as creams commonly known as Retin-A/Tazorac, work to stimulate your body’s production of collagen and even more importantly, work to stimulate your body’s DNA repair enzymes to reverse sun damage. Other products containing growth factors and peptides also work to reverse damage to the skin and stimulate cellular renewal. I’ll be the first to say that there is no magic cream in a bottle. However, in general, products that are found in a physicians’ office or by prescription usually have a higher concentration of the active ingredients which help to achieve optimal results.
Nonetheless, despite all of these options, the most important thing is to help each person feel good about the skin they are in.
New Year, New You! Here’s to putting your best face forward.
Mary Hurley, MD