We have all looked in the mirror, checking around our eyes for signs of wrinkles – for many it is a dreaded sign of aging. According to Medilexicon’s Medical Dictionary, a wrinkle is “A furrow, fold or crease in the skin.” Wrinkles are most noticeable on your face, the backs of your hands, your neck and the top of your forearms. And while aging does play a part in developing wrinkles, there are a number of other causes, some which you can control.
As we age a number of things happen to our skin:
- The outer layer of our skin, the epidermis, thins and the cells in this layer divide more slowly, making it harder for the skin to repair itself from damage or injury. Your skin may look thinner or even papery and wrinkles can develop.
- The changes in the epidermis can also contribute to dehydration, which also causes wrinkles.
- Your skin becomes less elastic
- Fat cells, which form a natural “filler” in your skin begin to shrink
- Repeated facial expressions can also contribute to wrinkles. You may see fine lines or wrinkles around your eyes if you repeatedly squint; you may see lines around your mouth, caused by repeatedly smiling or frowning.
All of these are part of the natural aging process, however genetics also play a role so while some people may have many wrinkles, others will age with very little wrinkles.
Environmental and Other Factors Contributing to Wrinkles
You can’t avoid becoming older no matter how you may try. But there are some medical, environmental and personal lifestyle choices which can also contribute to wrinkles:
- Over-exposure to the sun, especially in those with light skin
If you smoke, quit. Use sunscreen on a daily basis and make sure you are drinking enough water every day. If you take medications, know the possible side effects.
Wrinkles are often seen as a symbol of wisdom but many people go to great lengths to try to reduce their wrinkles. Some methods work well while others are a waste of money. Before deciding on a treatment, talk with your dermatologist about your options and what would be best for you.
Over-the-counter creams – there are many different types of wrinkle creams/lotions available without a prescription and some may work modestly but usually the results are slight and will disappear once you discontinue using the product.
Topical retinoids – a cream derived from Vitamin A, available by prescription, which may help reduce your wrinkles but also causes you to be more susceptible to burning from sun exposure. Can also cause burning, itching and drying of the skin.
Surgery or medical procedures – there are a number of cosmetic procedures which may be helpful in reducing wrinkles, for example, dermabrasion, chemical peels, laser resurfacing, injections of soft tissue fillers or a face lift. Your dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon can talk to you about all the different options and which may work for you. Remember these types of procedures are not considered medically necessary and your insurance does not normally pay.