Skin Aging Factors and How To Avoid Them

aging_skinAging is a universal problem that everyone confronts at one time or another. Medicine has not yet figured out how to stop aging yet, but there are definite moves you can make to slow the effects of aging on the skin.

Since your skin is the primary barrier between you and the world, your skin frequently gets assaulted by time and the environment.  Aging happens because of two distinctive types of factors: intrinsic and extrinsic.

Intrinsic aging is generally governed by your genetics and ethnicity, and is something over which you don’t have very much control.  Your genetic makeup will determine whether your skin will withstand the aging process better or worse than others.

Extrinsic aging is caused by factors over which you do have control.  Such extrinsic factors include the following:

  1. Sun Damage
    autumn_fall_sunExcessive ultraviolet radiation, whether through sunlight or artificial tanning, is the worst thing you can expose to your skin if your goal is keeping your skin appearing young.  One of the best ways to understand how UV rays age your skin is to compare the skin from an area commonly exposed to the sun with an area rarely exposed.  In the skin areas not exposed to the sun, you are not likely to see any age spots and there is usually much less wrinkling.
  2. Smoking
    Tobacco is second only to UV radiation in terms of aging effects on the skin. Smoking does multiple bad things for the skin including (but not limited to) constricting blood vessels, increasing free radical damage, dehydrating the skin, and enhancing the breakdown of collagen. Studies have shown that the risk of developing severe wrinkles is three times higher in smokers than non-smokers.
  3. Poor Diet
    Sugars and high-carb foods in particular increase skin inflammation and increase the metabolism of collagen, resulting in more wrinkling.
  4. Too Much Alcohol
    no-alcoholAlcohol, when taken in excess, ages the skin prematurely in several ways. First, alcohol dehydrates the skin, resulting in reduced production of collagen and thus earlier-than-usual wrinkles. Second, alcohol also causes blood vessels to dilate or enlarge, especially in the face resulting in a flushed appearance. If this reaction happens frequently enough, tiny broken-appearing blood vessels, known as telangectasias, form permanently and show up as blotchy red areas, especially on the cheeks and nose.

One common thread within these four extrinsic aging factors is their effect on free radicals, the damaged oxygen molecules that are missing electrons. Within the body, free radicals attach to healthy cells to basically steal back electrons, resulting in damage to cell structure and even the cell’s DNA.

free_radicals_and_agingWhile free radicals occur naturally within the body as the by-products of various normal chemical reactions, excess free radicals caused by extrinsic factors outlined above result in undue stress on the body and its cells.  The stress on cells causes breakdown in collagen and elastin, making your skin more loose, thinner and inevitably more wrinkled.

In addition to reducing the extrinsic aging factors that produce free radicals, the best anti-aging products contain antioxidants that fight these damaging agents by neutralizing them.  Using medical grade skin care products similar to those we carry here at Maine Laser Skin Care in addition to a no-tanning (especially not tanning booths!), no-smoking, good diet and limited alcohol lifestyle will go a long way to making you looking younger than your age and feeling better too.

If you want any advice on your specific skin condition or skin care needs, do not hesitate to call us for a free consultation at (207) 873-2158.

About Dr. John Burke

John Burke M.D. has practiced medicine for over 25 years, and is the founding partner of MidMaine Internal Medicine. He established Maine Laser Skin Care in 2004 after devoting years to learning the latest in laser and dermatologic technology. Dr. Burke has treated patients from all over the United States. He is one of Maine's busiest practitioners in laser treatments, and in the use of Botox for upper facial lines and excessive sweating.
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