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Natural and Medical Ways to Reduce Wrinkles


Much as we might concur with the idea that “lines don'e make beautiful women less beautiful,” as Isabel Wolff declared in A Vintage Affair, most women would nonetheless be happy with as few wrinkles on their face as possible!

Wrinkling occurs when important constituents in the skin such as collagen, elastic fibres and glycoaminoglycans (GAGs) diminish due to the passage of time. Collagen and GAGs provides normal skin with its firmness and elastic fibres allow the skin to “recoil” to its original state after it has been stretched.

A reduction of collagen and GAGs in the skin can be likened to a loss of the stuffing in a pillow. The fabric of the pillow cover, being inelastic, is thrown into folds, like wrinkles in aged skin. The most important cause of skin ageing is photodamage, that is, damage of the skin induced by chronic sun exposure. Skin that is subject to photo-ageing, like on the face and forearms, is much more wrinkled than skin that experiences intrinsic ageing without sun damage, like that on the abdomen.

Other factors that can aggravate wrinkling are:

  • Dryness of the skin due to low ambient humidity, excessive washing with soaps, use of astringents, scrubs, etc.
  • Habitual facial expressions that result in facial creases like frown lines, crow’s feet.
  • Sagging of the skin with age due to the effect of gravity. This accentuates the appearance of the wrinkles.
  • Scarring of the skin due to trauma or inflammatory diseases of the skin such as acne. This together with sagging makes the skin appear lined and aged prematurely.
  • Chronic use of oral steroids which causes thinning of the skin.
  • Sudden and massive weight loss.
  • Smoking - chemicals degrade the collagen and elastic fibres in the skin which contribute to skin ageing. Cigarette smoke also reduces blood flow to the skin thus depriving the skin of oxygen and nutrients. (Smoking also accelerates age-related hair loss, so that’s yet another reason to quit smoking!)

Five things that you can do to keep wrinkles away are:

  • Prevent photodamage by the judicious use of sunscreens and protective clothing/hats, limiting outdoor activity during the sunniest times of the day (10am – 4pm).
  • Moisturise appropriately and avoid the use of harsh skincare products that dry out the surface of the skin.
  • Treat skin wounds appropriately so that they heal as quickly as possible in order to minimise scarring.
  • Seek medical treatment for acne and other inflammatory skin conditions early to limit scarring.
  • Pursue a healthy lifestyle, maintain a healthy weight and avoid smoking or secondhand smoke.

For those who already have wrinkled skin, here are some possible treatments:

  • Tretinoin cream – a prescription drug that reduces wrinkling and other aspects of photodamage.
  • Chemical peeling – even light acid peels performed repeatedly can improve fine lines. Deeper wrinkles will require more aggressive chemical peels.
  • Intense pulsed light therapy.
  • Laser therapy – Non-invasive laser procedures such as CoolTouch laser therapy can stimulate collagen formation and thus lighten wrinkles after several sessions. Slightly more aggressive laser therapy such as Fractional CO2 laser resurfacing causes a controlled burn of the skin and results in even more collagen formation. Improvement is often apparent after a single session.
  • Radiofrequency skin tightening with, for example, the Exilis system.
  • Injection of botulinum toxin relaxes muscles of facial expression and abolishes or softens the appearance of facial creases.

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