Ageing processes are defined as those which increase the susceptibility of the individuals as they grow older, to the factors which may cause death.
There are two theories:
1. Extrinsic or random hypothesis states that ageing is a result of the contingencies of living, i.e. progressive wear and tear, accumulation of waste products in the body etc.
2. The “fundamentalist” hypothesis states that ageing is internal, i.e. it is genetically programmed by our “biological clock”.
Skin ageing does not follow life expectancy because of the complex interplay of genetics, systemic influences and environmental factors. For e.g. Grey hair is seen in many a youth due to hereditary or environmental influences, similarly the sun, environment and skin protection play a large role in skin ageing.
It cannot be stressed enough that sun exposure, either casual or deliberate is the most damaging accelerator of skin ageing. Even the activities of daily life take their toll: Actions such as laughing, frowning and sleeping with the face pressed to the pillow can both affect the number and depth of facial lines by stressing the skin and underlying tissue. What I want to stress here is that accept skin ageing, it is inevitable. What we can do is strike a right balance between looking younger and personable without stepping into too much plastic.
This is the new mantra of today. There is no sin in looking as good as possible. Why not? It does a lot for your self-esteem and this advice is not restricted to women but also to men. After all, the biology of the body is almost similar. The only thing to keep in mind is your budget and not to get too carried away by trying to look younger. The most common ageing changes involving the face are:
Wrinkling. This is due to a loss of collagen and elastic tissue. Thinning of the dermis and subcutaneous fat augment wrinkles.
Rhagades. These are the lines seen in the skin over the lips wherein the lipsticks bleed into.
Frown lines. Seen on the forehead and near the nose are a results of remodelling of dermal connective tissue due to the forces of facial muscles.
Melasma. This is the brownish pigment occurring on the cheeks, nose, forehead and upper lip. This pigment is also seen after pregnancy, oral contraceptives etc. Darkening under the eyes. Seen more in dark skinned people.
Dilated blood vessels or spider veins. Seen as a network of red lines on the cheeks or bridge of the nose. These are a result of sun exposure or decreased skin support. Tumours, keratosis, skin tags, wart-like growths, pigmented and non-pigmented keratosis are seen in different skin types in varying amounts.
The old adage “Beauty is not skin deep” should always be adhered to while going in for any sort of anti-ageing therapies.
Nourish the skin from inside: Drink plenty of water, have a diet consisting of proper vitamins, nutrients and exercise to keep not only fit and trim but to keep your hormones in peak working order. When you are feeling healthy you get that glow on your skin which cannot be bottled. For smokers it is necessary to add anti-oxidants to your intake. What are antioxidants? Vitamins A, C and E which help the body fight detrimental effects of an endangered environment.
The dermatologist must firstly take out the time to explain to the patients why and how changes of ageing occur. In discussing with patients the results that may be expected from a cosmetic procedure it is better to err on the side of caution than to promise too much. The most effective treatment of ageing is, of course, prevention of sun exposure.
Regular usage of sunscreens with adequate SPF is a must, come what may. This in itself improves skin colour, texture and prevents further skin ageing. Nowadays, sunscreen preparations are so advanced that they incorporate within them makeup bases, anti-ageing substances, anti-acne and cosmetic covers. Patient acceptability is high and even “sensitive skin” sunscreens are available.
With new procedures and pharmaceutical agents now available, dermatologists can improve the looks of both sun-damaged skin and ageing skin. More medical and surgical procedures are being carried out by dermatologists which are not only safe but effective as well.
Skin cleansing: Use an appropriate cleanser, milk or anti-acne soap or gel wash as indicated for your skin type. Exfoliation or scrub can be used once a week. Do not over scrub, it damages skin further. Buff puffs or even plain grains can do the job. Be careful, however, to avoid blemished areas and acne eruptions as the skin will get even more irritated.
Don’t exfoliate more often because the “dead skin” as is referred to by beauticians, is actually a protective layer of skin which seals the epidermis and der-mis from the harm caused by external factors. Alternatively an Alpha Hydroxy mask can be used which exfoliates, smoothens, lightens and gives you a glowing skin. Make-up must be cleaned off with a good remover. Do not over dry the skin.
Peels: Can be done once a month under medical supervision. These reduce fine lines and pigmentation, the skin smoothens and glows. Retin A has been used for over 20 years as an anti-acne agent. Its anti-ageing properties are well established. In addition to improving skin texture, it also causes a lightening of pigmentary changes and gives you that lovely unblemished, tight, shiny skin. Its drawbacks are it is irritant and can give rashes.
Implants: The most popular being collagen, gelatin matrix injections, hyaluron-ic acid and autologous fat implants. These are utilised to fill up small defects, wrinkles, Rhagades, frown lines, restructure the lip etc. Each has its own wonders and its own drawbacks. Better to acquaint oneself with all aspects before subjecting oneself to any of them. Done by highly-specialised doctors they give wonderful results and are invaluable in cosmetic .surgery
Cosmetic surgeries: Include dermabra-ll sions, fat sculpting, liposuction, removal of “bags under the eyes”, chin pads, face lifts, brow lifts, blepharoplas-ty etc. are all aimed at improving a person’s appearance. These are best done by qualified cosmetic surgeons and in a proper setup.
Lasers: The latest craze to invade trie populace. These are used for skin resurfacing, removal of pigments etc. all of which shows a reversal of the ageing processes. It all sounds wonderful, but how many people really sit down and think of all the implications. Where skin types one to three are concerned i.e. the European communities, the risks are minimal but talk about Asian skins and the story is very different. Serious post operative pigmentation is a reality which has to be faced. Sun exposure is also detrimental. Today we have pho-torejuvenation, that is, use of light or mild laser light to cause the skin to heal from within without peeling out the skin or surgically abrading it. It is a slow process but the results are good without any side-effects.
Whether to age gracefully or to “let go” is ultimately your choice. But it is also important to weigh your priorities in life and act accordingly. After all how many of us need to present a youthful exterior to get on in our chosen careers and life in general.