At Romeo & Juliette Laser Hair Removal, we’re all about getting rid of the hair you don’t want. But most of our patients also have interest in procedures that seek to slow the aging process. With that in mind, here’s some information on why your skin ages and what you can (and can’t) do about it.
With all of the concern about sun damage and skin cancer, you’d think we would all be better off if we spent every daylight hour in a cave, venturing forth only after dark like some vampire from a Twilight novel. That sort of lifestyle would make for less sun damage on the skin, but there is another side of skin aging that happens no matter what we do.
Alas, there is the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic aging.
Ah, young skin — the envy of us all when we cross the 35 or 40-year threshold. When you’re young, the skin’s outer layer, the epidermis, is smooth and acts as an effective barrier to water and environmental damage. The skin’s color and tone are even, without any pigmentation issues.
And the skin’s support system is strong. Collagen, which provides the skin’s firmness; elastin, which gives the skin elasticity and rebound; and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), which keep the skin hydrated, are all abundant.
Two types of aging
And then the clock starts ticking, and suddenly you begin to develop wrinkles. Wrinkling is the result of a combination of two types of aging — intrinsic and extrinsic.
Intrinsic aging just happens. It doesn’t matter if you live in New York or New Guinea. After your 20th birthday, your body cuts its production of collagen by one percent each year. This makes the skin thinner and more fragile the older you get. Your sweat and oil glands also slow their function, and elastin and GAGs drop as well. Intrinsic aging is inevitable, but it isn’t the main cause of wrinkles.
The main cause of wrinkles would be extrinsic aging. Extrinsic aging occurs because of the sun and environmental damage (smoking or exposure to pollution, among other things). Your formerly even-toned, supple skin changes. Extrinsic aging shows itself as a thickening of the cornified outer layer of the skin. Precancerous growths, skin cancers, and freckles and sun spots all start to show up, directly related to your amount of sun exposure. This exposure also causes an exaggerated loss of collagen, elastin, and GAGs.
All of these factors team up to give your skin a rough appearance, uneven tone, brown patches, sagging skin, and deep wrinkles.
But with each passing day, it seems, a new procedure comes onto the market to try and slow the aging process, whether it involves peeling off the damaged outer epidermis (chemical peels or laser resurfacing), getting the body to produce new collagen (various laser procedures, radiofrequency energy, ultrasound energy, and microneedling), or other efforts.
Alas, there’s no stopping Father Time. But at least, you may slow him down.