Ways to Prevent Wrinkles Easily

Most of the organs in our bodies age without our being aware of anything very much happening: our lungs, kidneys, heart and liver all begin to wear out but, unless they fail to function effectively, we are not usually aware of what is happening.

Skin is different. As we age, the changes which take place in our skin become clearly apparent:

1 There is an increase in the amount of natural skin pigmentation and instead of being regular and even, it tends to be rather blotchy, producing freckle-like patches or 'liver spots'.

2 There is a build up of dead cells and these collect together to cause dryness and roughness.

3 As the connective tissue beneath the skin loses its firmness, the elastic fibres break down, the skin loses its natural plasticity, and the changes in sex hormone production which accompany old age lower the production of natural skin oils.

All these combine with environmental factors - such as sunshine, high winds and chemical pollutants in the atmosphere - to produce skin wrinkling.

Although it isn't possible to prevent all wrinkles developing it is possible to slow down the process:

1 One of the simplest and most effective ways is to keep out of the sun as much as possible, or at least to use effective sunscreen creams. The sun is a giant wrinkle­ making machine.

2 Use a good moisturizing cream regularly to protect your skin from the sun and from pollutants.

Exercise is often promoted as an effective way to stay young looking. Beauty experts have thought up complex routines designed to strengthen the facial muscles. However, I don't know of any evidence to suggest that exercising your muscles will retard the development of wrinkles. The harsh truth is that it is the collapse, breakdown and disappearance of the proteins, elastin and collagen, in the skin which determines the formation of wrinkles - and these are not restored by exercise.

Massage is another frequently recommended remedy for wrinkles. But again, I do not know or any evidence proving that it works. Indeed, I suspect that massage could hasten the development of wrinkles rather than prevent them. Nor do I think that rubbing in special creams will help. You need to use good supplies of your ordinary moisturizing cream all over your body, but I don't think there is any value in buying special creams.

One specific pollutant often associated with wrinkle formation is tobacco. I'm doubtful about this. I suspect that if tobacco does cause wrinkles it is because smokers tend to screw up their eyes against the smoke. The answer is either to give up smoking or to use a cigarette holder.

There are scores of remedies available for the treatment of wrinkles but I think that a lot of them are quite useless. You can, for example, buy special' anti-wrinkle' creams, but these only work as masking creams - they do not make the wrinkles disappear. Then there are the special electrical treatments that beauty salons sometimes offer. I don't have much faith in them either. Nor do I recommend special collagen injections or laser treatments, both of which could be dangerous in unskilled hands. Special pills and diets are a waste of money, vitamins won't help wrinkles and nor will vitamin creams. I don't think you should waste your money on garlic, ginseng or any of the magical and mysterious remedies now on the market either. Finally, while discussing remedies I don't recommend for wrinkles I must mention dermabrasion and chemosurgery. In dermabrasion the surface layer of the skin is removed mechanically - with a very tough brush. In chemosurgery the skin's top layer is removed in much the same way as it would be if acid were splashed on to it. Both these remedies are potentially dangerous and I think you should avoid them.

The only effective, permanent way of dealing with wrinkles that already exist is to visit a plastic surgeon. However, I would repeat my advice that you should only visit a plastic surgeon who has been recommended by your own family doctor. Never follow up advertisements offering plastic surgery.

The classic way in which a plastic surgeon deals with wrinkles is by tightening the skin. Just as you can remove the surface wrinkles from a piece of cloth by pulling it tight so you can remove the wrinkles from skin.

A standard face lift, to deal with deep creases and sagging skin, takes several hours. Using either a local or a general anesthetic the surgeon makes small cuts in front of the ears, cuts the facial skin away from the face and then literally pulls the skin tight before cutting off the excess and resuturing. There is usually some bruising for a week or two, but the eventual scars can usually be covered up with hair.

Unfortunately, there are a number of risks with face lift surgery. If the circulation is impaired, skin may slough off and if the facial nerve is cut permanent paralysis can result.

The other extremely popular operation to eliminate facial wrinkles involves the eyelids. This is longer lasting than a face lift, heals quickly and is usually very effective. It is also possible to deal with forehead creases by an operation called a frontal ridectomy. The snag with this type of operation is that afterwards the patient's face may not be so mobile or able to produce a full range of facial expressions.

I've mentioned facial wrinkles at some length because they are the ones that worry people most of all. But surgeons can also operate on wrinkles elsewhere. Indeed, the only part of the human body that plastic surgeons cannot straighten out is the insides of the thighs. If you see someone on the beach and you want to know whether their youthful good looks are a result of the knife, look at the insides of the thighs for tell-tale wrinkles and creases.

Removing excess skin is probably the technique most commonly used for wrinkles but there are others. Plastic surgeons used to inject silicone into the skin, for example, although this has gone out of favor because it is known that the silicone does not always stay where it is put.

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