Do Anti-Ageing Formulas And Treatments Work?
For most of us, those biology class lessons about skin in the schoolroom almost fade into oblivion overtime. As we grow up, for many of us between the ages of 35-40, our skin loses the tautness and elasticity we were born with, showing signs of ageing.
While tears weep over our lost youth and the perils of UV, gravity, pollution exposure, stress, and lifestyle choices, our focus gets directed to the changing condition of our skin. As the ageing process progresses, the wear and tear of a lifetime is reflected in the fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, and sagging skin. And so, a phalanx of creams, serums and procedures are pressed into service to combat this ageing process.
Truth be told, as research has revealed, prevention is better than cure. Because, try as we might, we can not really turn back the clock. That said, though ageing in time is a certainty, we should try to set obstacles in its path by setting in motion several preventive measures, including exercise, hydration and nutritional food–and making sustainable lifestyle choices to keep our youthful looks and energy.
Dr Divya Sharma, a noted dermatologist provides us a quick recap on the basics of skin and provides valuable insights on how we can help retard the ageing process. The skin is the body’s largest organ and protects against germs and regulates body temperature. “Think of the skin as a three-storied house,” she says. The upper floor is the Epidermis, which replaces old skin cells with new ones all the time; the middle floor is the Dermis, which has a criss-crossed mesh of elastin and collagen hydrates, which is below 3ml of the surface of the skin; and the third, the Hypodermis, is the fatty layer or subcutaneous layer which cushions the muscles and bones.”
Elastin and collagen are the twin engines that give our skin structure and elasticity and its youthful quality. Composing 80% of the skin’s structure, collagen binds water to keep the skin hydrated and helps keep the skin taut, strong and maintain our skin’s structure. Elastin gives it elasticity. As a natural process of ageing, the body production of these proteins slows down, resulting in a reduction of collagen and elastin. The outcome of this is that the Dermis gets thinner and can cause the skin to sag and form wrinkles.
There are ways and means of restoring lost collagen to some degree. But Dr Sharma adds a cautionary note on the expectations from the options out there in the market. “Most of the creams and serums you apply cannot penetrate below the upper epidermal layer. It is difficult for that to happen and there are very few formulations that can penetrate the Dermal layer. Most creams like retinoid work on improving the exfoliation of the skin. To some extent, they also help in preventing fine lines and uneven skin tone. Retinoid especially helps in multiplying the cellular turnover, but they can not penetrate the deeper levels of Dermis and tighten the collagen. Also, practically speaking, they can not work on the sagging of the skin on the face, which happens because of the gravitational pull on the fat layer,” reveals Dr Sharma.
The American Academy of Dermatology underpins this outlook by its findings, which maintain that though there are many firming products to treat loose skin in the market, these products have limited efficacy. They are unlikely to penetrate the skin deeply enough to improve sagging.
Elaborating further on the use of anti-ageing creams, Dr Sharma says: “They can help you in prevention but to improve the Dermal collagen one may have to opt for procedures like Radio Frequency Skin Tightening Therapy or High-Frequency Ultrasound (HFUS). For the sagging of the fat layer, options available are probably injectable, or other nonsurgical facelift procedures will have to be resorted to.”
Non-invasive and minimally invasive treatments
Firming Creams: Some benefits for ageing skins can be sourced from skin-tightening creams which include retinoids and hyaluronic acid. Retinoids, which are good for firming the skin, help increase the proliferation, maturation, and turnover of skin cells. Hyaluronic acid is your go-to hydrating option, which helps reduce the depth of wrinkles, increases skin tautness, and reduces skin roughness.
Collagen injections and Retin-A creams: Help restore skin tautness by either introducing collagen externally or stimulating blood flow and repair of the dermis, respectively.
Chemical peels: These slough off the outer layer of old skin, reducing the appearance of loose, sagging, or wrinkled skin on the face and neck. The emerging skin below is usually less wrinkly and smoother.
Radiofrequency (RF) therapy or radiofrequency skin tightening: It is a nonsurgical method for tightening the skin. Energy waves are used to heat the Dermis, which stimulates the production of collagen. It has been used to combat saggy skins, the effects of ageing, and other signs of ageing.
High-frequency ultrasound (HFUS): Uses heat to stimulate collagen production. The ultrasound energy penetrates the skin’s surface to heat deeper layers.
As a rule of thumb, collagen must be created from the inside out. Exercise, limited ultraviolet radiation and environmental pollution exposure, staying hydrated and eating nutrients with Protein, Vitamin C, Omega-3 fatty acids that speed up the production of collagen, can help stem skin ageing symptoms.
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