Unfortunately, there’s no avoiding it – skin is bound to age. While some may accept this with grace, most try to prevent the onslaught of aging. We all know the familiar signs: wrinkles, fine lines, pigmentation, dark spots, sagging skin. These indications of age are especially bothersome when they come early in life, causing us to look older than we act and feel. Although we can’t freeze time, we can slow down the clock, by treating our existing signs of aging, as well as taking preventative measures to delay future physical side effects.
In order to understand how to prevent the signs of age, you first need to learn what causes wrinkles. Understanding the science behind wrinkles will make you better equipped to avoid their formation.
The best place to start is by looking at the structure of the skin.
THE THREE LAYERS OF SKIN
Human skin is composed of three layers: the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous tissue.
The epidermis is the skin’s outer layer. It’s rich in keratin, which provides roughness and water-resistance. It’s within this layer of skin that dead skin cells are shed and where melanin (a dark pigment) is found. The epidermis acts as a barrier for the underlying layers, and is the first line of defense in our body’s immune system.
Beneath the epidermis lies the thick dermal layer. The dermis is composed of nerves, fats, blood vessels, elastin, and collagen fibers. Collagen – which occupies about 80% of the dermis – is a protein that accounts for the primary component of body’s connective tissue. Collagen provides the skin’s strength, whereas elastin (as its name implies) gives your skin its elastic quality and enables it to stretch back and forth.
The subcutaneous layer is composed of fat. It’s mostly responsible for keeping us warm and holding our internal organs in place.
The structural changes that take place within these three layers of skin are responsible for producing the visible signs of aging. There are two different processes that induce such changes and lead to wrinkles: intrinsic aging and extrinsic aging.
Intrinsic aging, also known as chronological aging, occurs over the span of your lifetime regardless of external factors. Intrinsic aging is a natural process, and although most bodies mature along a similar timeline, it varies from person to person based on heredity:
After age 20, our bodies produce 1% less collagen each year. As collagen and elastin fibers become thicker and looser, the skin becomes inelastic and brittle; the signs of the skin’s attempt to stretch back and forth turns into visible wrinkles. Also in our 20s, the exfoliation process decreases, causing dead skin cells to accumulate and stick together for longer periods of time.
In our 30s, the transfer of moisture between the dermis and epidermis slows and fat cells start to shrink, making the skin appear dull. As the body ages, the skin produces less sebum (oil). This causes the texture of the skin to become dry and for wrinkles to become more visible – which is why you might notice those Crow’s Feet around your eyes, since this area has very few sebaceous glands.
Collagen production stops at age 40, and wrinkles form as the fibers begin to break and stiffen. Skin cell turnover slows, and it becomes more difficult for the cells to regenerate themselves.
By age 50, we start losing the fat stored in the subcutaneous tissue, which makes the skin thinner. The loss of estrogen following menopause also contributes to thinness, and results in the skin becoming more easily damaged. A decline in blood vessels and decrease in circulation also works against our complexion.
All of these intrinsic factors contribute to wrinkles, sagging, and pigmentation issues. This aging process is very slow, and only contributes to a small percentage of wrinkles. Most wrinkling is due to the effects of extrinsic aging.
Extrinsic aging is caused by external factors—and these are what you can pay attention to if you want to slow down the manifestation of wrinkles. The greatest culprit of extrinsic aging is photo-damage or the exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun. Thus, another common name for extrinsic aging is photo-aging. Extrinsic signs of aging include dryness, loss of volume, fine lines and deep wrinkles, sagging, coarseness, blotchy or irregular pigmentation or dark spots and loss of elasticity. At its worst, extrinsic aging—due to overexposure to UV light—may also result in skin cancer. Here are a few of the most common sources of extrinsic aging.
Repeated facial expressions and sleeping positions:
When you smile, creases form at the corners of your mouth as your lips pull up into your cheeks. Such repeated facial expressions can eventually form wrinkles known as expression lines. While everyone should be proud of their signs of smiling, other expression lines are not so welcome. Be sure to be careful every time you rub those sleepy eyes in the morning, and try to switch up which side of your face you sleep on to reduce the risk of deepened creases along the side of your nose.
Stop smoking! It’s bad for your health and it’s what causes wrinkles on your face. Each time you take a drag from a cigarette, you’re pulling on what’s called your Purse String muscles. This repeated motion has the same effect as expression lines: premature wrinkles which betray your age. Furthermore, the nicotine found in cigarettes causes a narrowing of the blood cells within the outermost layer of the epidermis. If blood flow decreases, the skin becomes deprived of oxygen and vital nutrients, such as vitamin A. As a result, the skin begins to sag and wrinkle prematurely.
Free radicals (or harmful, electron-hungry molecules) cause damage when they pull electrons from other molecules in our body. This action alters chemical structures and biological functioning, thereby accelerating the aging process, as seen on our skin in the form of wrinkles. Pollution in the environment is a major source of free radical exposure, and although antioxidant enzymes can help protect against free radicals, their damage will occur regardless.
Exposure to the sun:
Photoaging, or changes that occur due to the sun, is by far the biggest culprit in the causation of wrinkles. The National Center for Biotechnology Information asserts that photoaging is responsible for 80 percent of wrinkles. When UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin’s dermal layer, it causes the breakdowns of our much-needed collagen and elastin. As these essential proteins break down, the skin begins to sag and wrinkle. Wrinkles are just one effect stemming from sun damage; photoaging also causes sun spots, rough texture, pigmentation problems, and can even lead to the development of deadly skin cancer.
Anti-wrinkle injections help to relax certain wrinkle-causing muscles in the face to produce a younger and more refreshed appearance. Here at Radiant Skin Clinics, we aim for natural looking results, not frozen faces. The treatment has a proven safety record for over 25 years, and is always administered by a fully trained medical professional. Anti-wrinkle injections, are composed of a natural, purified protein. Due to restrictions from the TGA, the actual name of the anti-wrinkle injection cannot be used on Australian websites.
HOW DO ANTI-WRINKLE INJECTIONS WORK?
Also known as a muscle relaxer, anti-wrinkle injections prevent the skin above from creasing up and causing wrinkles. When anti-wrinkle injections are performed, a small amount of anti-wrinkle product is placed into the muscle. This product prevents the nerve from telling the muscle to contract.
WHICH AREAS ARE COMMONLY TREATED?
It is important to note that anti-wrinkle injections do not immediately improve static lines, or lines that are present at rest. These can be treated by adding volume with dermal fillers or through skin resurfacing treatments.
The most popular areas treated with anti-wrinkle injections include:
HOW QUICKLY WILL I SEE RESULTS?
Each client is different, although the relaxation of muscles takes approximately 5-12 days to work, with the peak effect around the 2 week mark.
HOW LONG DO THE EFFECTS LAST?
Anti-wrinkle products are made of a protein which is broken down naturally by the body. Ideally the effects of anti-wrinkle injections should last 3-4 months but it can vary depending on the strength of the muscle (the stronger the muscle the more anti-wrinkle ‘units‘ that you need) and how quickly your body breaks down the product.
WHAT ARE ANTI-WRINKLE UNITS?
In your research, you may have come across the term ‘anti-wrinkle units’. A ‘unit’ is simply a measure of anti-wrinkle product. Given several brands of products are available in Australia, with differing strengths, it can make it difficult to directly compare the volumes needed from one provider to another. We know that certain amounts of units work to reduce muscle movement in certain areas. You will be provided with an upfront cost guide at your consultation depending on your desired results, however as a guide, a female face would typically need the following amounts based on the products used by Radiant Skin Clinics:
HOW MUCH DO ANTI-WRINKLE INJECTIONS COST?
At Radiant Skin Clinics, we charge from $3.95 per unit, and offer a complimentary initial consultation. It's important to understand the upfront and ongoing maintenance costs of any skin treatments, which will will discuss fully and openly with you during your appointment.
People are often confused about the difference between anti-wrinkle injections and dermal fillers. Anti-wrinkle injections relax muscles, reducing the crumpling of the skin and in doing so softening lines. Dermal filler is placed deeper under the skin to restore lost volume and hide shadows.
Think of dermal filler as being the structural supports in a house and anti-wrinkle treatment being the plaster on the walls which provides a smooth surface.
Dermal fillers help to replace lost volume that occurs with the ageing process. As we age there are a number of processes that contribute to changes in the face that we see in the mirror. Firstly we lose the fat pads in the face which help keep the skin plump and young. The facial bones change causing loss of cheekbones and widening of the orbit. Collagen is lost in the skin causing laxity.
HOW DO DERMAL FILLERS WORK?
The most common dermal fillers are made of a substance which is naturally found in the skin. When injected under the skin, the fillers lift up the skin and reduce the appearance of lines. The fillers attract water and over the next few days will swell slightly. This produces a lifting effect and in this way dermal filler looks better in the days after injection. Over time, dermal filler is broken down naturally by the body.
WHAT AREAS CAN BE TREATED WITH DERMAL FILLERS?
Different types of dermal fillers are designed to treat varying signs of aging. Depending on the filler selected, they may:
*Static wrinkles include those around the mouth and along the cheeks. These wrinkles are usually a result of a loss of collagen and elasticity in the skin.
WHAT TYPES OF DERMAL FILLERS ARE AVAILABLE?
Dermal fillers are clear and feel gelatinous. They vary from thin dermal fillers which flow easily from the tip of the needle to thicker fillers which are firmer. Generally speaking the thicker the dermal filler the longer it lasts and the more lift it provides. We have to be careful to place thicker dermal fillers deep under the skin to avoid causing small lumps and bumps.
Thicker dermal fillers are more often used in the "structural areas of the face" - cheeks, marionette lines, chins and in the jowl area. Thinner fillers are more often used to treat fine lines around the mouth and in the lips where we want a nice, smooth spread of the filler without overfilling.
We offer a wide variety of dermal fillers, lasting from 6 to 36 months. Each filler is suited to different applications and we will advise you on which dermal filler is best for you at the time of consultation.
HOW MUCH DERMAL FILLER WILL I NEED?
The amount of dermal filler that you may need depends on the degree of volume loss or depth of the line that we are treating. As a general guide we use the following amounts of dermal filler:
HOW MUCH DO DERMAL FILLERS COST?
Dermal fillers are typically priced on a per ML basis, and the cost will depend on which type of filler is selected based on the treatment area and longevity. As a guide: