Understanding wrinkles

Time, gravity, genes and sun combine to leave their mark on your face in the form of lines and wrinkles. You can choose to accept them as a badge of experience or banish them, at least temporarily, with an array of ever-evolving weapons. These tips will show you how.

Understanding wrinkles

1. What is happening

Between the ages of 25 and 65, your skin goes through a lot of changes. Cell division slows and the inner layer of your skin thins. The underlying web of elastin and collagen fibres loosen and uncouple, making your skin less elastic. Fat cells diminish, leaving your skin less plump looking. And aggravating all of this, sweat and oil-secreting glands also wither, depriving your skin of its ability to retain moisture.

Your moods can leave their mark too. Frowning or squinting etches vertical furrows between the eyebrows, and a lifetime of laughter may engrave two deep parentheses around your mouth and a spray of crow’s feet at the sides of your eyes.

Why are some people more lined than others? Your genetic makeup and gravity play a role, but the biggest culprit is the sun. Even small exposures can damage critically important collagen fibres. The sun also releases rogue oxygen molecules called free radicals that wreak havoc on cell membranes, helping to create wrinkles. Air pollution and smoking both contribute to wrinkles as well.

2. First steps

  • Avoid the sun and always use sunscreen.
  • Topical creams to remove fine wrinkles.
  • Skin resurfacing or injections for deeper wrinkles and scars.
  • Facelift for a more youthful appearance.

3. Taking control

  • Make sure your doctor is board certified by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and your provincial College of Surgeons.
  • Request before-and-after pictures of your doctor’s patients who have had the cosmetic procedure you're contemplating. It’s also a good idea to get the phone numbers of some of them so you can ask about their experience with the doctor and procedure.
  • Dilute your prescription tretinoin (Retin-A) cream with a moisturizer. This will not only save you money (a small tube of the medicine can be very expensive), it will reduce the side effects on your skin, including excessive dryness, peeling, red­ness and blistering, and extreme sensitivity to the sun.
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