Courtesy of This Quarterly magazine
Lines away!

Wrinkles are nature’s way of showing the passage of time – but it is possible to slow them down. Here’s how.

Wrinkles can take the form of fine lines or deep grooves. As skin ages, the content of collagen and fat in the skin diminishes, causing the skin to lose its firmness and elasticity. This in turn causes fine lines that deepen over time into permanent wrinkles. Apart from age, wrinkles can be aggravated by chronic sun exposure or photoageing. In fact, photo-damage accounts for the majority of physical changes in skin and is a major contributor to wrinkling, crepey skin, pigmentation and broken veins. Other factors that can lead to wrinkles include:

  • Excessive skin dryness due to weather or harsh cleansers
  • Habitual facial expressions
  • Scarring due to trauma or acne
  • Chronic use of oral steroids
  • Sudden and massive weight loss
  • Smoking
  • Diet of processed foods and insufficient water, fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Lifestyle factors such as stress, and lack of exercise, rest or sleep

Lines Away!

Healthy body, healthy skin
You may not be able to completely avoid wrinkles as you age, but you can prevent their early onset and severity. Ensure skin is adequately moisturised and prevent photo-damage by avoiding or limiting outdoor activity during the sunniest times of the day (10am-4pm) and using sunscreen and protective barriers (umbrellas, long-sleeved clothing or hats). Ensure wounds, acne and inflammation are treated, to limit scarring that compromises skin integrity. A healthy lifestyle – maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet and managing stress well – is also helpful in maintaining good skin. Smoking is a no-no: the chemicals in cigarette smoke age skin and affect blood circulation, and increase the risks of hair loss, tooth decay and major chronic diseases and cancer.

The following cosmetic therapies can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles:

Tretinoin cream is a prescription drug that reduces wrinkling and photo-damage. When used with creams containing antioxidants, the effect can be enhanced. The cream is inexpensive, simple to use and readily available at your dermatology clinic. However, it can cause irritation in those with sensitive or eczema-prone skin and should only be used under a skin doctor's supervision.

Chemical peels, performed consistently, can improve fine lines, although deeper wrinkles require more aggressive treatment. This method is simple, quick, usually well-tolerated and inexpensive relative to other procedures. Light peels also have little or no downtime. The success of these peels is predicated on the level of experience and may require greater operator skill to prevent downtime, pigmentation and scarring.

Intense pulsed light therapy can treat not only wrinkles but also discoloration, dull complexion, fine lines and prominent pores with low discomfort and little or no downtime. It is however not as effective when compared to laser treatment. There is also a small risk of burns, discoloration and scarring.

Laser therapies are procedures to stimulate collagen formation and improve wrinkling. Different lasers offer different intensities and results. The CoolTouch laser is non-invasive and can produce lasting results over several sessions. Fractional CO2 laser resurfacing is more aggressive and improves skin texture via a controlled use of energy light to bore tiny holes in the skin. This stimulates the body’s natural collagen production without damaging the top layer of skin. Improvement is usually visible after a single session. The range of laser treatments varies, and typically, the more invasive the procedure, the more visible the results are post-treatment.

Radiofrequency skin therapy uses radiowaves to tighten the skin and diminishes the appearance of wrinkles. Though it is a non-invasive and comfortable procedure, improvement is gradual and the subtle results may not satisfy everyone.

Botox injections relax the muscles of the face and abolish or soften the appearance of facial creases. Quick and highly effective, it requires a skilled operator. Repeated sessions will be needed to maintain results and over-use can result in an unnatural appearance.

Fillers can improve facial contours, reduce depth of grooves and fill in deep static lines. Though effective, there is some risk of infection and tissue damage.

Dr Cheong Lai Leng
Consultant Dermatologist

MBBS (Singapore), M.Med (Internal Medicine),
MRCP (UK), FAMS (Dermatology).
Corr. Fellow, American Society for Dermatologic Surgery

3 Mount Elizabeth
#09-09 Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre
Singapore 228510
Tel : (65) 6836 1480
Fax : (65) 6836 1481
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