What Causes Wrinkles?

What causes wrinkles in the first place?

Doctor Answers 1

Why wrinkles? A simple answer.

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Many changes occur in the skin as it ages. Two important substances make up the skin (in addition to others): collagen and elastin. If one looks at the skin under a microscope, there are very clear predictable changes that occur in the organization and amouts of these components as one ages. A variety of things impact upon this process including sun damage (extremely important), smoking, and perhaps even things such as air pollution. Genetics/heredity, "nationality", and race also play a role.

If one thinks of a piece of paper that is folded back and forth many times, a crease eventually develops. Similarly, habitual use of facial muscles causes "crease" or wrinkles in the face. In addition to the chemical effects of smoking cigarettes, smokers use their lip and mouth muscles in very different ways than non-smokers, leading to "smoker's lips".

A variety of treatments for wrinkles are available, and have different targets and effectiveness. Of course, as with many things, prevention is very important, and things such as avoiding excessive sun exposure and not smoking help ensure that wrinkles don't develop in the first place. Wrinkles can be "filled". Muscles that create dynamic wrinkles can be weakened. Chemicals, mechanical forces, or the laser can be used to "resurface" the skin. Surgical procedures can tighten the skin and remove excess. .....and so on.

Probably the most important thing to realize is that different treatments deal with wrinkles in different ways, and that your physician is in a position to evaluate you, discuss those wrinkles with which you are most concerned, and provide recommendations for treatment. Meanwhile, since you cannot change your age, race or ethnic background, avoid the excessive sun exposure!

Cleveland Facial Plastic Surgeon

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.