Aging is an inevitable continuous biological process. In the simplest of terms, it is the process of becoming older. With that, as you age,  your skin produces less of the proteins collagen and elastin. This natural aging process causes for everyone to eventually develop wrinkles,  especially on parts of our body that are exposed to the sun, like the face, neck, hands, and forearms. Wrinkles, also known as rhytides, are folds in your skin. Other than its aesthetic concern, wrinkles also make your skin thinner and less resistant to damage, making your skin more vulnerable to possible harm. For most people, wrinkles develop between the ages of 40 and 50 as the skin loses moisture and thickness. However, genetics also contribute a big chunk in the development of wrinkles. In addition to that, environmental exposure, dehydration, and toxins can all make your face more likely to develop significant wrinkles as you age. In research studies, they have found out that sun exposure appears to be the biggest cause in the development of wrinkles. This is especially observed in people with fairer skin. Smoking and diet also significantly contribute to the formation of wrinkles. 

With that, just like aging, wrinkles are inevitable because they are part of aging. However, if you would like to slow the signs of aging on your body such as the formation of fine lines and wrinkles, there are some natural ways to do it. Furthermore, there also a number of different cosmetologic procedures available in the market that can target the issue of wrinkles. Hence, in order to help you, this article will elaborate further on how to remove wrinkles and prevent its formation. 

Layers of the Skin

Before tackling about the ways to remove wrinkles and prevent its formation, it is important that you understand the three different layers of the skin, so that you will have an idea on certain factors that induce changes in these layers that cause the formation of wrinkles. Furthemore, it will also give you an idea on how specific treatment targets these layers in order to lessen the appearance of wrinkles and also prevent its further formation. 

With that, the human skin is composed of three layers which include the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous tissue.

Layers of the Skin

Image source from https://wtamu.edu/~cbaird/sq/2015/11/23/how-does-the-outer-layer-of-skin-cells-on-my-finger-detect-when-i-am-touching-an-object/

  • Epidermis layer

The outer skin layer is called the epidermis. This layer of the skin is significantly rich in keratin, which is the material that is responsible for providing the skin its roughness and water-resistance. It is within this layer of skin that dead skin cells are shed and where melanin, or the dark pigment of the skin, is situated. This outer layer of the skin acts as a barrier for the underlying layers. With that, it is considered as the first line of defense in the body’s immune system.

  • Dermis layer

This thick layer of the skin lies beneath the epidermis. Nerves, fats, blood vessels, elastin, and collagen fibers comprise the dermal layer. The most significant component of the dermis is the collagen. This protein occupies approximately 80% of the dermis. Furthemore, collagen is the primary component of the body’s connective tissue. On one hand, collagen is responsible for providing the skin its strength. On other hand, elastin, which is also one of the components of the dermal layer, provides the skin its elastic quality. It is also responsible for enabling the skin to have the ability to stretch back and forth. 

  • Subcutaneous Tissue


This deepest layer of the skin is composed of fat. The subcutaneous layer is mostly responsible for keeping the body temperature in normal range. With that, it keeps the body warm. It also makes sure that the internal organs are in place.

Two Types of Aging

In humans, there are two types of aging: Intrinsic aging and Extrinsic aging. These terms are utilized in order to describe cutaneous aging of the skin and other parts of the integumentary system, which while having epidermal concomitants, seems to specifically involve the dermis. Intrinsic aging is significantly influenced by internal physiological factors alone, while the extrinsic aging is influenced by several different external factors. Intrinsic ageing is also called chronologic aging, while extrinsic ageing is usually and frequently referred to as photoaging.

  • Intrinsic Aging

Regardless of external factors, intrinsic aging, also known as chronological aging, occurs over the span of your lifetime. As stated above, intrinsic aging is a natural process, and although most bodies mature along a generally similar timeline, this aging still differs from person to person based on his or her genetic makeup. However, it must be noted that there are varied changes in the human body that occur due to intrinsic aging. These changes include:

  • The human body produces 1% less total collagen each year after the age of 20.  This signifies that the skin will become more and more inelastic and brittle as the years go by because collagen and elastin fibers become thicker and looser. With this, the signs of the skin’s attempt to stretch back and forth turns into visible wrinkles on the body. Furthermore, when you turn 20, the exfoliation process of the body also decreases, leading to the accumulation of dead skin cells which can produce the signs of aging and also cause skin problems. 
  • When you turn 30, the transfer of moisture between the dermis and epidermis slows and fat cells start to shrink, making the skin appear dull. Moreover, the sebum or the oil production of the skin also decreases as the body ages. This causes the texture of the skin to become dry. Furthermore, this also causes wrinkles to become significantly visible. This is also the reason why most people observe those Crow’s Feet around their eyes because the area surrounding it has very few sebaceous glands.
  • At age 40, collagen production stops. During this time, wrinkles form as the fibers begin to break and stiffen. In addition to that, skin cell turnover slows, and it becomes more difficult for the cells to regenerate themselves. All of these significantly speeds up the aging process of the skin. 
  • You start losing the fat stored in the subcutaneous tissue by age 50. This leads to the skin becoming thinner. Moreover, the loss of estrogen following menopause also contributes to thinning of the skin, and results in the skin becoming more easily damaged. In addition to that, during older ages, there is also a decline in blood vessels and decrease in circulation. This also works against your complexion.

All of these intrinsic factors contribute to the production of the signs of aging such as wrinkles, sagging, and hyperpigmentation. It must be noted however that the intrinsic aging process is very slow, and hence only contributes to a small percentage in the formation of wrinkles. With that, most wrinkling is due to the effects of extrinsic aging.

  • Extrinsic Aging

Unlike intrinsic aging that focuses on the internal natural process of the human body, extrinsic aging of skin is a distinctive declination process caused by external factors. This type of aging refers to environmental influences that lead to wrinkles, and they are responsible for creating the most dramatic signs of age. There are a lot of common sources of extrinsic aging which include ultraviolet radiation, cigarette smoking, air pollution, and the likes. Of all these extrinsic causes, ultraviolet radiation from sunlight has the most widespread documentation of its negative effects on the skin. Because of this, extrinsic ageing is frequently referred to as photoaging. Photoaging may be defined as skin changes caused by chronic exposure to UV light. Being defined as cutaneous damage caused by chronic exposure to solar radiation and is associated with emergence of neoplastic lesions, photodamage implies changes beyond those associated with aging alone. 

What causes wrinkles?

As stated above, wrinkles are inevitable because they are a natural part of the aging process. As you get older, your skin becomes thinner, drier, and less elastic. This means that the skin is less able to protect itself from damage. Furthemore, this aging process leads to the formation of wrinkles, creases, and lines on the skin. In addition to that, facial expressions such as smiling, frowning, or squinting, also relatively contribute to the development of fine lines and wrinkles at a young age, and as you get older, these lines deepen. 

During younger years, the skin is able to spring back because the layers of the skin still have abundant amounts of collagen, elastin, and other proteins that contribute to the skin’s significant flexibility. However, as one gets older, the skin loses its flexibility, and it becomes more difficult for the skin to spring back, leading to the production of permanent grooves.

Furthermore, due to structural and functional differences in the skin, wrinkles affect people of different skin tones differently. Several studies indicate that the compact dermis is thicker in the skin of Black and Asian people. Because of this, they are more likely to be protected against facial wrinkles.

A number of factors affect the development of wrinkles which include:

  • Sun Exposure

Photoaging, or changes that occur due to the sun, is by far the biggest culprit in the causation of wrinkles. With that, it should come as no surprise that the biggest culprit for wrinkles is exposure to the sun. Studies have already established that photoaging is responsible for 80 percent of wrinkles. Both UVA rays and UVB rays are harmful for the skin. UVA rays penetrate the skin’s deepest layers. When UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin’s dermal layer, it causes the breakdowns of the skin’s much-needed collagen and elastin. As these essential proteins break down, the skin begins to sag and wrinkle. The UVB rays, on the other hand, can cause sunburn,  which can result in premature aging and wrinkles. In addition to that, according to experts, the first and most common type of skin wrinkling is from chronic sun damage. Other than the sun damage that results in loss of collagen and elastin resulting in wrinkling of the skin, it must be noted that there are other problems that might come out due to chronic sun exposure. These photoaging related skin conditions include sun spots, rough texture, pigmentation problems, and even deadly skin cancer. Lastly, it must be remembered that exposure to natural ultraviolet light from the sun is not only the culprit in the formation of wrinkles but also from artificial UV lights such as those from tanning booths. 

  • Smoking 

After the sun, smoking is one of the biggest culprits for formation of wrinkles. Generally, smoking is not bad for your health and it also speeds up the aging process of the body.  Each time you take a drag from a cigarette, you are pulling on what is termed as your Purse String muscles. This repeated motion has the same effect as expression lines which are premature wrinkles that only become worse as you age. Not only does the position of a cigarette in your mouth lead to fine lines, but the toxins from the cigarette itself can age your skin. Regular smoking accelerates the aging process of skin because it reduces the blood supply to the skin. The nicotine found in cigarettes causes a narrowing of the blood cells within the outermost layer of the epidermis. If blood flow decreases, the skin becomes deprived of oxygen and vital nutrients, such as vitamin A. As a result, the skin becomes more prone to wrinkling because vital nutrients cannot reach the epidermis. 

  • Pollution

Pollution in the environment is a major source of free radical exposure. Free radicals or harmful charged molecules can also cause damage when they pull electrons from other molecules in the body. This causes the alteration of chemical structures and biological functioning, which leads to an accelerated aging process, as seen on your skin in the form of wrinkles. It must be noted that although antioxidant enzymes can help protect against free radicals, their damage will occur regardless. So you may not think much about the environment that you live in, but it can actually contribute a significant impact on the formation of deep wrinkles and fine lines on your body. According to several studies,  people who lived in urban settings had more prominent wrinkles and age spots compared to those who lived in rural areas. Thus, with that, experts strongly recommend that if you live in a heavily populated city, be sure to wash your face at night before bed in order to eliminate the pollution particles.

  • Stress

Stress is also considered a significant factor that speeds up aging. Stress is a known contributor to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. Studies have shown that stress increases cortisol levels in the blood. This increase in this hormone causes the reduction of the skin’s ability to hold and keep moisture. Furthermore, during stress, there is a relative elevation in blood sugar levels, which can then damage the collagen and elastin fibers in the skin. Both the increase of cortisol and sugar levels lead to the decrease production and destruction of collagen and elastin, which are considered as the critical support structures that keep skin from sagging and developing wrinkles

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Treatment of Wrinkles

Now that you know what are the major significant contributors to the formation of wrinkles, it is important to know that wrinkles can be removed or treated, especially with today’s technological advancement in cosmetology. 

Here are some medical treatments and procedural options you can choose from in order to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles:

Medical treatments for fine lines and wrinkles

  • Vitamin A acid (tretinoin [Retin A, Renova])

Only available through a prescription given by a licensed physician, vitamin A acid is an well-known anti-aging ingredient. This vitamin has the longest track record of success in treating aging skin, fine lines, and wrinkles. Most dermatologists will require their patients to use creams containing tretinoin on a continuous basis. It must be noted that when you first use these products, they may or may not produce redness and peeling, but you can usually achieve to minimize the discomfort through lowering the retinoid cream’s concentration or applying it less often until the skin gets used to it.

  • Alpha-hydroxy acids

These alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA), also known as fruit acids, are composed of glycolic and lactic acid. Preparations containing these acids are relatively safe and cause no more than mild and temporary irritation. Both of these acids are utilized in many skincare products in order to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. However, it must be noted that they only produce subtle improvement even after such time of usage. 

  • Antioxidant serums

These antioxidant serums include preparations that have vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E, and beta-carotene components in them. Many cosmetic products claim that these antioxidants help in reducing the appearance of fine lines. However, there is only very little compelling evidence produced by scientific research that these sorts of products produce a significant cosmetic improvement.

Medical Procedures That Can Remove Wrinkles

  • Glycolic acid peels 

Glycolic acid peels use glycolic acid, an alpha-hydroxy acid and one of the most effective exfoliating chemicals, in order to weaken the bonds between cells on the top layer of your skin. This effectively removes the top layer of the skin, allowing new skin to surface. However, it must be noted that this superficial peel can only make a slight difference in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

  • Deeper peels 

Utilizing salicylic acid and trichloroacetic acid, this type of peeling treatment can penetrate somewhat deeper into the skin layers. With this, deeper peels tend to do a better job in improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. However, because it penetrates the deeper layers of the skin, it also poses a greater risk for side effects such as long-lasting pigment changes or changes in the color of the skin, and scarring. Furthermore, in most deeper peel procedures, anesthesia is required. This mild sedation can help ease short-term but intense discomfort.

  • Microdermabrasion 

Microdermabrasion treatments use a mildly abrasive instrument in order to gently sand your skin. The machine used for this procedure contains silica or aluminum crystals.  Microdermabrasion is done in order to remove the thicker, uneven outer layer of the skin. Furthermore, this type of skin rejuvenation is used in order to treat light scarring, discoloration, sun damage, fine lines, wrinkles, and stretch marks. Many estheticians offer this service, usually in packages of six or seven sessions. It must be noted that microdermabrasion does not change the skin anatomy, however it helps make the face feel smoother. 

  • Dermabrasion

Dermabrasion is considered to be a true surgical procedure. This is often performed under general anesthesia. The procedure involves the physician using a rotating instrument in order to sand the skin down. Dermabrasion can result in excellent improvement depending a great deal on the skill and experience of the physician,  however it must also be noted that it can also produce significant side effects such as scarring and permanent changes in skin color.

  • Laser resurfacing

Producing similar results to those of dermabrasion but with greater reliability and precision, laser resurfacing is one of the most utilized techniques by physicians in order to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Using instruments such as the carbon dioxide and erbium lasers, a licensed professional passes the laser a number of times over the area to be treated until the damage reaches the middle of the dermis which is the second layer of the skin. This procedure aids in stimulating the body’s natural collagen production, which helps fight against sagging skin and wrinkles. In recent times, more dermatologists perform the laser resurfacing procedure under conscious sedation. This means that the patient is awake and receives intravenous medications to calm and ease pain. Doctors frequently combine this sedation with the application of topical anesthetic creams such as EMLA, as well as injections of local anesthetics such as lidocaine. Several treatments are usually required to patients in order to see the maximum improvement in their skin texture and appearance. It must be noted however that the skin takes a long time to heal, usually weeks to months, after 1 session of laser resurfacing. Just like dermabrasion, the side effects of this procedure are permanent pigment changes and scarring.

  • Fractional resurfacing

Recent improvement of laser resurfacing is the fractional resurfacing. Thus unlike the traditional laser resurfacing that aff, this new laser treatments affect only evenly spaced spots of the skin of concern, surrounded by undamaged skin. Because of this modification, healing is much faster. There is also less downtime after the procedure. However, just like the laser resurfacing, patients may need several treatments to achieve full benefit.

  • Non-ablative laser resurfacing 

The non-ablative laser resurfacing is also another modification of the traditional laser resurfacing. This new laser treatment attempts to increase collagen production under the skin without damaging the epidermis. Though not as much as laser resurfacing, many medical studies and clinical experiences have suggested that non-ablative laser resurfacing can still improve fine lines and wrinkles. However, several treatments are  necessary in order to achieve maximum benefit. These procedures are almost painless and there is little or no redness, peeling, or downtime afterward.

  • Cosmetic surgery

There are also available surgical cosmetic procedures in the market such as facelifts, brow lifts, and other similar operations that can be very helpful in reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles for selected patients.

  • Thread lift

The thread lift procedure involves a barbed, medical professionals that insert a stiff thread into facial skin in the appropriate direction. The tissue is then pulled to catch on the barbs, producing a lifted appearance. This procedure is still controversial, especially that the effects are still not strongly established to be sustained for a long time. However, there is no doubt that this procedure is beneficial for those who are looking for a short term with modest cosmetic benefits. This procedure also utilizes local anesthetic and is also associated with minimal downtime.

  • Botox Injection 

One of the most common procedures in removing wrinkles is the injection of botulinum toxin or also known as the muscle poison. Botulinum toxin is able to paralyze facial muscles that produce the frown lines on the forehead, fine lines around the eyes, and other wrinkles. Because it paralyzes the muscles, it causes the skin to smoothen. The improvement with this injection lasts several months, and patients must have repeated injections in order to sustain improvement.

  • Fillers

In order to increase volume and to flatten wrinkles and folds, medical professionals inject fillers into the skin. Collagen was the most popular filler, especially during the early development of this procedure. However, recently, most experts use new filler substances such as hyaluronic acid and calcium hydroxylapatite, lactic acid, and autologous fat transplants. These new fillers are utilized more because their effects can last six to nine months or even longer.

Prevention of Wrinkle Formation

Even if the formation of wrinkles are inevitable, there are definitely steps you can take in order to prevent its formation. So while wrinkle treatments above can significantly improve the skin’s appearance, the best way to avoid wrinkles definitely involves your lifestyle choices and behaviors. With that, here are some of the ways in order to prevent the formation of wrinkles: 

  • Wear sunscreen

One of the best ways in order to protect your skin from sun damage and formation of fine lines and wrinkles is through wearing sunscreen. A sun protection factor (SPF) over 30 can help prevent the damage caused by sun such as wrinkles, fine lines, and even skin cancer. Furthermore, studies have shown that sunscreen also aids in delaying the signs of aging. Wearing a moisturizing sunscreen on your face each day should be a habit that you should develop in order to benefit your skin health long-term.

  • Avoid ultraviolet light

As stated above, the ultimate cause of most wrinkles in the body is due to exposure to ultraviolet light. It is true that you can not completely avoid ultraviolet light because it is everywhere. However, there are steps that you can take to lessen the degree of exposure that you receive such as opting for a sunless tanning lotion over long sunbathing sessions in the sand, wearing longer pants and long-sleeved shirts when adventuring outdoors, and wearing a hat that shields your face from the sun when going out.

  • Limit your sugar intake

Sugar in the body is set off through a process called glycation. This process produces advanced glycation end products (AGE) which are considered harmful for your skin. AGEs damage the collagen in your body and, after such time, can make you look older. Grilling and frying also produces AGEs. Thus, it is important to limit your intake of sugar and oil-rich foods in order to prevent the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. 

  • Increase your beta carotene intake

According to recent studies, beta carotenes have the ability to block the sun’s ultraviolet light from damaging your skin and eyes. On the market, beta carotene and retinol (vitamin A) are frequent ingredients in the cosmetic anti-wrinkle creams. If you do not want to buy these creams, you can opt beta carotene supplement instead. Studies show that as little as 30 milligrams per day of beta carotene, taken orally, can prevent and repair photoaging.

  • Use coconut oil

Coconut oil has the ability to fill in the gaps in your epidermis which results in a smoother looking skin because coconut oil  is considered as a natural emollient. Other than making your skin smoother, coconut oil can also help the skin retain moisture so that it can appear fuller and volumized. Many studies have concluded that coconut oil can also be utilized as an alternative treatment for dry skin.

  • Drink lemon balm leaf tea

One of the latest strategies in fighting against wrinkle formation is lemon balm leaf tea. A study has compared a small sample of people drinking lemon balm leaf tea to another group drinking a placebo of barley leaf tea. The study concluded that lemon balm leaf extract makes skin more elastic and corrects tissue damage.

  • Regularly wash your face

In order to remove pollutants stuck in your face, it is important to wash your face for three to five minutes. It is important to note that when you leave makeup on your face overnight, your skin absorbs most of it. This contributes to the oxidative stress your skin faces since most cosmetics contain harsh chemicals. That is the reason why you should always wash your face. However, you must avoid vigorously scrubbing your face. Use a water-based wipe to cleanse your face before going to sleep, and finish your wash with some water to rinse off. 

  • Increase antioxidants intake

Your skin can be damaged just by going through your daily routine because it is exposed to more oxidative stress than any other organ in your body. As many people already know, antioxidants can help fight the damage that oxidative stress does to your cells. There are plenty of other ways to get that antioxidant boost for your skin other than just buying expensive serums or creams that have antioxidants in it. You can start with maintaining a healthy diet rich in blueberries, kidney beans, grapes, kale, and spinach. These fruits and vegetables are known to reduce the signs of premature aging.

Takeaway

Wrinkles are indeed a natural part of the aging process, hence it is inevitable. However, there are several things you can do in order to remove and prevent them and reduce their appearance. If you are especially concerned about your skin’s appearance as you grow older, you may want to speak to a dermatologist so that they can offer you the best treatments available in order to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on your skin. But at the end of the day, maintaining a healthy lifestyle combined with proven medical strategies is the key in removing the appearance of aging in your skin. 

References: 

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