Where is that fountain of youth?!
Article by Christa Clark, MD, FACS
Sacramento Plastic Surgeon
Where is the fountain of youth anyway?!
Every year a birthday comes and goes…which means that by the calendar, you get one year older. However, if you are like many of my patients, the outward signs of facial aging do not reflect how you feel on the inside. By the calendar you may be in your 40’s and 50’s– but in your mind you are still enjoying your 20’s and 30’s. This dichotomy may leave you searching for that ‘fountain of youth’ to help reverse the aging process. While there is no such fountain per se, as a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, I may be able to offer some suggestions on what you can do to help reverse or slow the signs of aging.
There are many things that can be done on a daily basis to assist your skin in maintaining its youthful appearance as we age. These range from a sensible diet and drinking enough water every day to applying medical grade skin care products to rejuvenate and hydrate your skin.
If you have:
• Early aging lines
• Uneven skin texture
• Photo damage
• Acne or Acne Scars
My first recommendation would be to follow an effective skincare regime that contains three fundamental elements: prevention, protection and correction. You want to prevent future damage, protect healthy skin and correct previous damage. These essential elements start with a high quality daily skin care routine; this does not have to include a bunch of creams or potions nor does it have to be expensive, but your skin care products should be medical grade to maximize the benefit you will receive from daily product application. To supplement a solid skin care routine, I recommend monthly facials, peels and micro-dermabrasion performed by a licensed aesthetician. Each of these treatments are customized for the individual depending on skin type, desired level of exfoliation and skin care goals.
Middle of the Road
The next “step up” in the battle against aging is something more invasive. The most common tools to reduce facial wrinkles has to be botulinum toxin, or more commonly referred to as Botox® or Dysport®. These products can help you smooth and diminish:
• Frown lines
• Crows feet
• Forehead furrows
Smiling, frowning, squinting and even chewing - basically any facial movement can eventually lead to one of the most common signs of aging: wrinkles. They can make you appear tired or even angry when you are not. One of the quickest and safest remedies to soften wrinkles and even prevent them from being etched into the skin is an injection of botulinum toxin. Injections of this substance block muscular nerve signals in the targeted facial animation muscle, which then weakens the muscle so that it can't contract thereby diminishing your unwanted facial wrinkles. These are not one time injections, but must be repeated at intervals to maintain their effectiveness.
For women and men who are noticing deep grooves along the sides of the mouth and nose or feel they are losing fullness in the lip or cheek area, the standard option is to try a dermal filler. A dermal or soft tissue filler does not paralyze muscles like botulinum toxin, but will add volume to smooth deep lines and create fullness in areas flattened by age. Although they cannot help with excess sagging skin, soft tissue fillers can provide immediate results at a lower cost than surgery by restoring volume and reducing lines. For full lips and cheeks, smoother contours along the nose, mouth, and jawline, think filler. Examples of commonly used fillers are hyaluronic acids (Restylane®, Perlane®, Juvederm®) and calcium hydroxyapatite (Radiesse®). Like the paralytics Botox® and Dysport®, the soft tissue fillers must be repeated and maintained.
Perhaps you desire a more even complexion and would like to treat not only wrinkles but sun and age spots as well. In that case, laser treatments would be a great option. There are a wide variety of lasers that are designed to treat different problems on the skin. Some lasers focus on dark spots or redness created by small surface blood vessels, while others work to tone and tighten the skin or resurface the skin completely. A visit to your board certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist’s office is a great place to start by having your skin evaluated and discussing your goals for treatment.
If you are still reading, then perhaps you feel you may have missed the exit for an easy or middle of the road path to achieve a fresh rejuvenated face. For those of us who have loose saggy skin or jowls that are too prominent for soft tissue filling, a more advanced route may be advised.
Technically known as rhytidectomy, a facelift is an invasive surgical procedure to improve visible signs of aging in the face and neck, such as:
• Sagginess or flattening in the midface or cheek area
• Prominent jowling along the jawline
• Loose hanging skin along the neck
Rejuvenation procedures typically performed in conjunction with a facelift are a brow lift which will correct a sagging or heavy brow, and eyelid surgery to rejuvenate aging eyes by removing excess upper and lower eyelid skin and fat. As a restorative surgery, a facelift and its related procedures do not change your fundamental facial framework and cannot stop the aging process, but will refresh your appearance and soften the signs of aging.
Each and every year without fail your birthday shows up---whether we like it or not! The options listed are available to help you reconcile the way that you look with the way that you feel.
Dr. Christa Clark
Board Certified Plastic Surgeon