Breaking Down the Age-old Battle Against Anti-Aging
It seems like every new day brings a new anti-aging or skin rejuvenating treatment! This can leave those trying to keep up with wrinkle prevention with their heads spinning. We’ve put together a brief guide to the world of anti-aging treatments for those who are overwhelmed by all of the options.
There’s no question that facials can rejuvenate skin–it’s just a matter of degree. Designed to deep-cleanse the skin, facials (even no-frills ones) involve extraction (removing debris from clogged pores), exfoliation (sloughing away dead, skin-dulling cells), moisturizing, and massage (to improve circulation). Each of these elements helps the skin look better, but only in the short term. “Any smoothing effects will be very subtle and temporary,” says Barbara Schell, M.D., the founder and director of Ageless Center for Rejuvenation, a medical day spa in Seattle.
Hope in a Bottle
Topical treatments make more of a difference than people recognize. Whether they’re used solo or to help maintain the results of professional procedures, topical skin-care products are effective at damage control. Many people tend to gravitate toward the “big gadgets,” like lasers, and underestimate the effectiveness of creams and lotions.
The key to using topical products is knowing when to step up to versions sold in physicians’ offices. Because they contain higher concentrations of the most potent anti-aging ingredients, like alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and retinol, such products are generally more effective than those available in drug or department stores.
A Primer on Peels
A chemical peel delivers a controlled exfoliation. Depending on the strength and the type of acid used, it produces a mild freshening or a significant improvement in fine lines and blotches. The lightest peels (a.k.a. lunchtime peels) are usually performed with glycolic acid in 20 to 70 percent concentrations. A series of six such peels, performed at two-week intervals, will boost the skin’s softness, smoothness, clarity, and dewiness.
Microdermabrasion is a quick, painless procedure in which the surface layer of dead cells is buffed away with a spray of fine crystals. Offering at least as much improvement as a light peel (but not as much as a TCA one), microdermabrasion leaves skin looking noticeably softer, smoother, and healthier after one treatment. However, it takes four to six sessions, usually done at two-week intervals, to obtain the full effect. Precisely how dramatic the change is depends in part on the strength of the particle pressure. One advantage of microdermabrasion is its no-one’s-the-wiser aspect; the resulting dryness can be soothed with moisturizer, and any redness fades within a few hours.
Injections of Youth
According to the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery, injections of wrinkle fillers and Botox® are some of the most requested procedures. But there are two important things to remember if this is the route that you take for wrinkle removal: when it comes to picking a doctor, experience counts, and when dabbling in injectables keep in mind that humans are supposed to have lines in their faces. In other words, don’t over-do it. A face with no lines at all screams “I had plastic surgery!”