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Definition of Wrinkles
Wrinkles are furrows or channels in the SKIN, typically resulting from repeated movements, such as facial expressions(for example, crow’s feet and laugh lines), or from long-term exposure to sun and wind.
Aging is the single-most significant factor that causes wrinkles.
Wrinkles increase with age as the skin loses collagen and subsequently resiliency. As well, the skin and the cutaneous tissue layer that supports it both thin, providing less support.
People who have light-colored skin tend to have more wrinkles than people who have darker skin. Smoking ages the skin considerably, increasing the depth and number of wrinkles.
Extensive wrinkles may signal substantial sun damage that is an alert for SKIN CANCER. Rapid or major weight loss also causes wrinkles, as the skin that stretched to accommodate the extra weight suddenly has no underlying support so it sags, bags, and wrinkles.
Prematurely wrinkled skin has less ability to protect itself from the sun because its layers are thinner and contain fewer cells, which means less melanin to shield the skin from ultraviolet radiation.
For many people, wrinkles are cosmetically undesirable. Dermatologists offer a number of solutions to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. These include
- For a CHEMICAL PEEL, the dermatologist applies a caustic solution to the skin, causing the epidermis, and in a deep chemical peel the dermis, to slough away. The new skin that forms beneath is tighter, pulling the surface of the skin smooth.
- For DERMABRASION, the dermatologist mechanically removes the top layers of skin (with local Anesthesia), using a device similar to a small grinder or sander to strip away the epidermis.
- For LASER SKIN RESURFACING, the dermatologist uses a heat laser to “burn” away the top layers of the skin. This technique allows the dermatologist to precisely control the depth and extent of skin removal as well as to target some areas for deeper penetration and others for lighter penetration.
- For BOTULINUM THERAPY, the dermatologist injects purified botulinum toxin into the muscles beneath the skin. This paralyzes them and keeps them from contracting. The paralysis keeps the person from forming wrinkles. Botulinum therapy lasts three to four months on average, depending on the location and the person’s natural skin-aging tendencies.
- For BLEPHAROPLASTY and RHYTIDOPLASTY, a surgeon performs cosmetic surgery operations to remove wrinkles and tighten the skin around the eyes (blepharoplasty) and the overall face (rhytidoplasty).
Though it is not possible to totally prevent wrinkles because they develop as a function of aging, it is possible to reduce their numbers and effects.
- drink plenty of water to keep the skin well hydrated
- use topical moisturizers and emollients to hold moisture in the skin
- limit sun exposure, and wear protective clothing and sunscreen when outdoors
- stop smoking and avoid exposure to environmental cigarette smoke
- eat nutritiously, especially fruits and vegetables that supply B vitamins and vitamin C, antioxidants that may help prevent skin damage due to sun exposure
Numerous over-the-counter products and preparations purport to “cure” wrinkles. At best this is false advertising, as wrinkles are as inevitable as aging. However, products that add moisture and vitamins to the skin may be nonetheless beneficial for the skin.