Why Your Face Ages, and How to Avoid Premature Aging
While your eyes may indeed be your window to the world, your
face is like the world's window to you. Just looking at a
person's face, you can easily identify whether they are happy
or sad, tired or energetic
young or old.
When did you notice your first wrinkle? It's never
too late (or too soon) to prevent premature aging to
your face (see the tips below).
In your 20s, you might not have given this much thought.
At this time, your face is still firm and virtually wrinkle-free.
But as you reach your 30s, your 40s and certainly your 50s,
an aging face -- particularly one that's aged prematurely
-- can make you appear older, more fatigued and less excited
than you really are.
You can't stop your face from aging entirely, but there are
a number of internal and external factors at work here --
many of which you can influence. It's never too late -- nor
too soon -- to start taking care of your face and preventing
Why (and How) Your Face Ages
There are two ways by which your face, and for that matter
your skin all over, ages: internally and externally. Internal
aging is what's commonly referred to as the "natural"
aging process. This type of aging occurs as you get older,
Collagen production slowing (collagen contributes
to skin's firmness)
Elastin production decreases (elastin contributes
to skin's elasticity)
Fat cells begin to disappear (which can lead to sagging
Your skin losing its ability to retain moisture
Frown lines and "crow's feet" appearing
due to small muscle contractions
Dead skin cells not being shed as quickly
Slightly less turnover of new skin cells
All of these things combine and contribute to the characteristic
face of an elderly person: wrinkles, sagging, dryness, thinness
in the skin and perhaps discolorations such as "age spots."
Gravity is Not a Major Part
of Face Aging
While common sense might dictate that gravity plays a role
in gradually pulling our faces down, leading to jowls and
drooping skin around the eyes, chin and neck, a study found
this is not the case.
According to researchers, fat loss, sun exposure and natural
changes in the skin are the primary causes of face aging --
"People make assumptions about how the face ages because
when they pull up on their facial skin, they look better,"
said Val Lambros, MD, American Society of Plastic Surgeons
(ASPS) member and author of the study. "Actually the
pull of gravity on facial tissues is not a significant component
of facial aging. Instead, other factors, like the loss of
facial fat and sun damage are more contributory in the complex
process of aging."
Are Facelifts a Good Option?
In 2005, more than 10.2 million cosmetic plastic surgery
procedures were performed in the United States according to
ASPS. For the first time in six years, facelifts did not make
the top five procedures. (The top five were liposuction, nose
reshaping, breast augmentation, eyelid surgery and tummy tuck.)
"The facelift is still a highly sought after procedure,
nearly 109,000 were performed last year," said ASPS President
Bruce Cunningham, MD. "However, the fact it didn't make
the top five surgical procedures can be attributed to increased
consumer demand for minimally-invasive injectable wrinkle
fillers and fighters as a remedy to combat facial aging."
Minimally-invasive procedures increased 13 percent from 2004
to nearly 8.5 million procedures in 2005. The top three procedures
in this category were all related to the face: Botox, chemical
peel and microdermabrasion (laser hair removal and sclerotherapy
rounded out the top five).
"The statistics show that in a solid economy, more Americans
are willing to invest in anti-aging remedies such as cosmetic
plastic surgery," said Dr. Cunningham. "For many,
cosmetic plastic surgery is the new take on 'growing old gracefully.'"
Every cosmetic procedure has its own unique set of risks
and potential advantages that you should research thoroughly
before moving forward. For instance, facelifts carry a risk
of scarring or permanent damage to facial nerves, while Botox
treatments carry a risk of forehead and eyelid drooping and
Further, there is always a risk that the results will not
be what you had in mind. Country singer Kenny Rogers has been
very open about his own feelings regarding his plastic surgery
operation in 2005.
"I went in and got my eyes done, and I'm not happy about
it. (The surgeon) is going to go in and fix that for me. They're
too tight around the eyelids for me. It drives me crazy!"
Rogers said. "If we can fix that, then I'll be glad I
did it. If we can't fix it, I'll regret it or get used to
How to Prevent Premature Aging of Your Face
External factors from your lifestyle and environment play
a huge role in how quickly your face begins to show the signs
of your age. Here are some of the top contributing factors
to premature aging of your face, along with how to avoid them
and keep your skin looking young longer.
1. Smoking. Exposure to cigarette smoke, whether from
your own smoke or second-hand, will increase wrinkling and
dryness of the skin. This is partly because smoking depletes
your body's vitamin C, which is necessary for young-looking
skin. Some researchers even say that cigarette smoke is just
as bad for your skin as ultraviolet rays from the sun.
Eating healthy gives your body the antioxidants it
needs to keep your skin looking firm, smooth and bright.
2. Sun Exposure. Too much exposure to the sun is well
known to cause wrinkling, premature aging and even cancer
of the skin. You may develop brown sunspots or the skin can
take on a dry, leathery appearance. While some researchers
are now pointing out that some sensible
sun exposure can indeed be healthy, to protect your face
Wear a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, year-round.
Avoid exposing your face to the sun during its strongest
hours, from about 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses when you're out
in the sun for an extended period of time.
3. Poor Diet. A poor diet is a source of facial aging
(and overall aging) from the inside out. Without the proper
fuel, your body does not have the nutrients it needs to even
function properly, let alone devote to keeping your skin firm,
moist and blemish-free. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables,
on the other hand, will provide you with plenty
of antioxidants that will help to protect your skin and
4. Not Enough Exercise. Exercise tones muscles and
helps promote blood flow -- necessary for healthy skin and
5. Too Much Stress. Anyone who's been through an extremely
stressful event knows how it seems to show up all over your
body, including on your face in dark circles under your eyes,
dull skin and new wrinkles. Managing
your stress, along with getting enough sleep, is key to
retaining a youthful face.
6. Exposure to Cold. If you're outside in the elements
-- cold temperatures, wind, etc. -- your face will show it.
Too much cold can easily suck the moisture right out of your
face, leading to dry, irritated patches. To prevent this,
protect your face with a scarf when you're outside and invest
in a natural facial moisturizer.
7. Excess Alcohol. Over time, alcohol can permanently
damage blood vessels in the skin, causing you to appear flushed.
Broken blood vessels may also appear near your skin's surface.
Not sure how
much alcohol is too much? The Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC) define heavy drinking as more than one
drink a day for women and more than two drinks a day for men.
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Ages Due to Fat Loss, Skin Changes
Million Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Procedures in 2005
Skin Care Series