There is a curious thing about aging: everyone seems to know what it looks like, but no one seems to know exactly what it is. Two diverging camps have emerged on the subject. The most popular belief is that aging is a natural and inevitable process. However, the theory that aging is NOT a natural part of life and therefore can be delayed or modified is gaining credibility in the scientific world. Theories of free radical formation, reactive oxygen species, genetic programing, immunosuppression and telomere length have all permeated the recent scientific literature. A common link among all of the theories is the nutritional state of the individual which by itself contributes greatly or greatly prevents age related changes. Nutrition and hormonal balance are the key components of a successful wellness program especially where it concerns the aging skin.
The diagnosis of the aging skin is not difficult in its later stages. The subtle changes that take place in the earlier stages are often overlooked. These include changes in the color and tone of the skin, formation of small linear wrinkles around the mouth and smokers lines. Later changes add pigmentation, more visible fine lines and decreased spring -back of the skin with pinching (a sign of decreased collagen production). Finally, the naso-labial folds deepen, neck muscles lose tone with a “hatched” pattern of the neck, moderate forehead wrinkles and crow’s feet appear, the cheeks sag and the lips thin.
Should the appearance of the skin progress into the later stages, topical treatment with retinol and vitamin C solutions along with chemical peels, exfoliants and microdermabrasion will aid in resolution. At this stage it is necessary to reduce free radical formation on a cellular level with multivitamins and various antioxidants including alpha-lipoic-acid and Coenzyme Q10. Non-surgical treatment of this stage also includes the use of neurotoxins such as Botox or Dysport to reduce dynamic wrinkles. The use of various dermal fillers can volumize the aging lips and skin folds, and reduce stubborn facial wrinkles as well.Treatment of the aging skin begins at the earliest signs. General facial cleansing, morning treatment with Vitamin C and facial massage to increase circulation and improve the tone and strength of connective tissue should be performed daily. A hydrating mask, sunscreen protection and a nightly regimen of cleansing followed by an emollient prep containing antioxidants, moisturizer and an immune stimulant will decrease the chances of progression of age related changes. A preventative nutritional regimen is also helpful. The patient should reduce alcohol consumption and enjoy a diet high in Vitamins A and C. Smoking cessation and reduced sun exposure are also important.