Wrinkles are a widely recognized symbol of age (and wisdom). Even if you don’t have any now, it is inevitable for most people to eventually get wrinkles. A major focus of the modern beauty industry is to find ways to reduce and prevent these lines from forming. For us to fully understand what works and what doesn’t for wrinkle treatments, we need to first understand that there are different types of wrinkles that have different physiological causes. To start, let’s first explore the two major categories of wrinkles: dynamic and static.
Dynamic wrinkles only occur with movement. These wrinkles are a part of normal anatomy and are perpendicular to the way your muscles contract. When you lift your eyebrows using your frontalis (forehead) muscle, which is vertically oriented, you cause horizontal folds in your forehead. Similarly, when you grimace at someone, your brows furrow by moving horizontally closer toward each other and cause the infamous 11’s or 111’ in between your brows. These types of wrinkles can happen at any age, though they do tend to increase over time as skin progresses with age and sun exposure.
Have you ever heard the old wives’ tale that says, ‘if you keep making that face, it’s going to stay that way’? Well, it turns out that it’s true… for wrinkles. While dynamic wrinkles go away if you stop moving your face, over time your skin produces less collagen and loses its elasticity, which become permanent folds in your skin (static wrinkles). Most commonly, these are seen on the forehead, between the brows, lateral side of the eyes (crow’s feet), around the lips, and at the marionette lines.
Having wrinkles are completely natural. Unfortunately, the general perception of wrinkles from an aesthetic perspective begins to turn sour starting in the 20’s and 30’s. Having numerous wrinkles can cause an individual to look tired, seem like their skin is sun-damaged, make them appear older and alter an observer’s perception of the individual’s mood (Perhaps by looking less happy). However, having wrinkles is not always a bad thing! Often, having a few fine lines can make you look more mature, seasoned, and wiser. Some examples of celebrities who have rocked their wrinkles include Bruce Willis, George Clooney, and Meryl Streep.
Viewing your own wrinkles positively or negatively is subjective. If you aren’t a fan, there are many ways to improve and soften the way they look. A quick Google search will give you thousands of practitioners and clinics promising that their method of wrinkle reduction is the best for you. Nevertheless, it is important to understand how these methods work and what type of wrinkles they work for. So, let’s take a moment to discuss these in some detail.
Ways to Prevent and Reduce Wrinkles
You may be surprised to learn that the single most important and effective method for preventing wrinkles and for anti-aging is not a fancy laser, surgery, or neurotoxins. It is simply to develop a long-term protection plan. Radiation exposure changes the composition and quality of the natural connective tissue in your skin and can cause new wrinkles and intensify existing ones. Other side effects of photo-aging include discoloration, pebbly skin texture (solar elastosis), tanning, reducing turgor, and skin cancers. Effective sun protection can prevent these unwanted outcomes and include methods such as staying out of the sun during peak hours (10 AM to 2 PM), wearing sun-protective clothing such as long sleeves and wide-brimmed hats, and wearing sunscreen.
To learn more about sunscreens, check out my blog post here. To summarize: you will want a broad spectrum SPF50+ physical sunscreen. Still unsure? To make things nice and simple check out our dermshop for dermatologist-approved sunscreens.
Retinol and Retinoids
Retinol and retinoids are derivatives of vitamin A, with the latter being more potent than the former. Retinols are over-the-counter products more commonly used for anti-aging, while retinoids are prescription products typically reserved for medical conditions such as acne. Both of these compounds exfoliate the skin and stimulate collagen production, which can improve skin texture and reduce fine lines. Even though retinoids are more potent and effective than retinols, they can also cause more redness and peeling of the skin. If you decide to go with a retinol, start with the lowest concentration that you can find and stick to it until your skin becomes accustomed to the redness and dryness, then slowly work your way up.
Chemical peels are exactly as their name implies, chemicals that gently peel off the outermost layers of your skin. Common examples include TCA and glycolic acid peels. Though chemical peels are known for their ability to reduce color and texture abnormalities, they can also do wonders for fine lines. The deeper chemical peels can affect the collagen fibers in the upper layers of the dermis, which can contribute to skin texture improvement and fine line reduction.
‘Laser’ is a term that represents a wide array of devices, each with its own specific function. Lasers that can target wrinkle reduction do so by inducing microscopic changes to some, but not all, parts of the skin. This process is termed “fractional laser resurfacing” and can be performed using several different types of lasers including CO2 and Clear + Brilliant. The upside of laser resurfacing is that the benefits are long-lasting and durable. Potential drawbacks of this type of wrinkle-reduction method include being red and swollen for up to a week, infections, scarring, pigmentation, and others. An expert and skilled provider will be able to pick an option and technique that best suits your skin while minimizing the risks. Fun fact: laser is actually an acronym meaning Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation!
Neurotoxins, found in Botox®, is a chemical produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum that inhibits nerve activation of muscle movement. By preventing muscle contractions, neurotoxins prevent the formation of dynamic wrinkles in the short run and static wrinkles in the long run. Botox® treatments last around 3-4 months but are incredibly effective in achieving wrinkle reduction. The short duration can also be an advantage for those who are trying cosmetic procedures for the first time; if you don’t like it, it will naturally fade after a few months.
While neurotoxins target dynamic wrinkles, fillers are an option for certain static wrinkles. Fillers are, for the most part, hyaluronic acid, which is a naturally existing substance that attracts water to the skin and stimulates collagen production. Certain fillers can be used to soften fine and deep wrinkles including wrinkles around the lips (smoker’s lines), melomental fold (marionette lines), nasolabial fold, and depressed scars.
The last option for treating wrinkles is through surgical intervention. These can include traditional facelifts and newer techniques like threads. Surgery is theoretically the longest lasting and most durable method of wrinkle reduction of all techniques, but it is important to remember that it is also the most invasive. Facelifts can be very effective in treating wrinkles, but they will cause a scar where the surgeon operated. Furthermore, if you do not like the results, the surgery is, for the most part, irreversible. Many cosmetic practitioners would recommend trying alternative nonsurgical options before committing to surgery for that exact reason.
Let’s sum it up!
Some people love their wrinkles and others don’t, and both are okay! Whichever is the case for you, be sure to carefully choose which source of information to trust. Speak with your doctor about your concerns so that they can give you an honest medical assessment. If you’re out on the West coast don’t hesitate to stop by my Rejuvenations dermatology clinic in Calgary. Even if I cannot provide the service you may need, I will be able to direct you towards a trusted colleague who can.
Hope you found this useful and don’t forget to check out Sundown Studio for some more incredible art!