Wrinkle Treatments that are Actually Effective
If there is one thing we fear more than death itself, it’s probably wrinkles. OK, that might be an overstatement but you get it. Wrinkles = old, old = bad. That’s what we all assume, and hence spend our twenties and thirties fretting over that one line in the cheek and trying not to show too much emotion on our face, lest we be left with permanent smile lines and a furrow in the brow.
Now there’s no need to start going about life looking like emotionless robots just to prevent wrinkles. How would any Hollywood actress stay employed? Instead, let’s understand how and why wrinkles form, the scientific way, and then read about wrinkle treatments that are actually effective!
How Wrinkles Form
Wrinkles are essentially fine lines and grooves in your face that become more prominent with age. They become more prominent due to the thinning and loss of elasticity in the skin as you mature with age.
But did you know that wrinkles have their foundations of formation right from your childhood? Whenever you make facial expressions, fine lines begin to develop on your skin. Due to your youth and hence the abundance of collagen and fats, the skin has the flexibility to spring back to normal, which is why wrinkles and lines do not show on young people and children. However, as you grow older and the skin loses this property of elasticity, that is how wrinkles begin to become more pronounced. The creases in your skin no longer have the elasticity and springiness to bounce back the way it did when you were young, and that is how these permanent grooves in the skin form.
The types of facial expressions you make frequently throughout your life also make a difference in where your wrinkles will form. For example, if your disposition is to be quite smiley and happy you will probably develop crow’s feet and laugh lines as these are the natural areas of creasing when you smile or laugh. On the contrary, if you have the quintessential RBF (resting b*tch face), you will likely develop the eleven wrinkle between the brows, and lip lines that run vertically down the sides of your lips due to the downturn motion of your mouth.
The natural aging process
Wrinkles are made permanent through the natural aging processes through which the skin loses its elasticity and suppleness.
The skin ages through natural cumulative processes that occur as the body matures. There are both internal and external aging processes that happen in the skin. Internal aging happens regardless of what you do. We have no control over this process. Collagen production in the dermis decreases year-on-year after you turn twenty, and it ceases after forty. As collagen production slows down, collagen and elastin fibers also start to become thicker, clumpier, and looser which is how the skin becomes inelastic and brittle. The thinning of skin occurs as the fat cells in the subcutaneous layer shrink. The combination of thinning skin with a loss of elasticity results in the permanence of wrinkles.
Meanwhile, the external aging process occurs due to environmental factors that are damaging to the skin and is caused by free radicals that pull electrons from molecules in the skin, resulting in biological alterations to the cells. Skin proteins are damaged and as a result, skin becomes more brittle and less elastic. The biggest culprits of external skin damage are UV exposure (sun exposure) and smoking. These exacerbate the rate of wrinkle formation and skin aging.
The Most Effective Treatments
Now that we understand how wrinkles form, we can better understand and appreciate why some treatments are more effective than others. Over-the-counter treatments and topical serums can potentially reduce the look of wrinkles, but it is most effective when you are younger and not when the wrinkles have set in for a long time. Retinols are good for stimulating collagen production, which can improve elasticity and hence reduce the look of wrinkles, but if you are already past 40 and collagen has largely stopped producing it might not be effective. You’ll probably notice very modest improvements or more realistically, none at all.
Instead, procedures performed by a surgeon or aesthetician involving some type of chemical or injectable are likely going to be the most effective at reducing wrinkles significantly. These treatments are expensive and might require some downtime to heal, but they are definitely the most effective in combating wrinkles. Let’s go through the most common ones:
The quintessential “old lady” procedure. All those TV and movie tropes about the over-Botox-ed stepmother aside, Botox is one of the most effective procedures to get rid of wrinkles. Botox works by injecting a compound called Botulinum toxin type A into the muscle causing the wrinkles, and freezing it so it cannot move and hence cannot create a wrinkle. The downside is that too much Botox can indeed lead to a stiff face. You’ll also need regular top-ups because they wear off pretty fast.
2. Chemical Peel
A chemical peel is as the name suggests — a layer of chemicals is applied to your face. These chemicals will dissolve the top layers of your skin which are most likely the dry, damaged ones with dead skin cell buildup. It also promotes quicker cell turnover, which can help with dullness and reduce the look of wrinkles.
This is a surgical and invasive procedure that involves the abrasion of the upper layers of skin. A rotating device is used to wear away the skin layers to remove the top layers. There is a less invasive version called microdermabrasion in which microcrystals of aluminum oxide are applied to the surface of the skin. Depending on where you get it done, the aesthetician might use a handheld device with fine diamond crystals. Dermabrasion has side effects of swelling and redness, and it will take a few months for results to show. But it overall is effective in reducing the look of lines and wrinkles and gives a much smoother appearance to the face.
4. Laser Treatment
Laser treatment can come in the form of non-ablative light, radiofrequency devices, and pulsed light sources. It does not physically damage the skin, but it basically works to destroy the outer layer of skin to reduce wrinkles by heating the dermis layer to stimulate the development of new collagen fibers, tightening the skin and hence reducing the look of wrinkles and lines. However, laser treatments are very expensive, and given that you will need a few sessions to see results, it might not be for those unwilling to spend too much money on cosmetic processes.
Wrinkles are hard to reduce and nearly impossible to get rid of. Procedures that are most effective are usually time and cost-consuming, and not to mention can have side effects. The best ways to deal with wrinkles are still 1) prevention from young by staying out of UV exposure, and 2) embracing them! Wrinkles are not a sign of decay but of maturity and the beauty of age.