What causes wrinkles?

There are many reasons why skin wrinkles. The most common are:

Aging

Wrinkles are a by-product of the aging process. As people age, skin cells divide more slowly, and the middle layer of the skin, called the dermis, begins to thin. The dermis is composed of a network of elastin and collagen fibers, which offer support and elasticity. As this network loosens and unravels with time, depressions are created on the skin surface. Aging skin is also less able to retain moisture, less efficient in secreting oil, and slower to heal. All these factors contribute to the development of wrinkles.

Facial muscle contractions

Lines on the forehead, between the eyebrows (frown lines), and jutting from the corner of the eyes (crow's feet) are believed to develop because of small muscle contractions. Smiling, frowning, squinting and other habitual facial expressions cause these wrinkles to become more prominent. Over time, these expressions coupled with gravity contribute to the formation of wrinkles.

Sun damage

Excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can result in premature aging of the skin, also known as photoaging. Exposure to UV light breaks down collagen fibers and leads to the production of abnormal elastin. When ultraviolet light damages skin tissue, an enzyme called metalloproteinase is produced. This enzyme creates and reforms collagen. During the process, however, some healthy collagen fibers are damaged, resulting in solar elastosis—the disorganized formation of fibers. Wrinkles develop when the rebuilding process occurs over and over, less efficiently each time.

Smoking

Healthy skin constantly regenerates. Old collagen is broken down and removed, and new collagen is produced. Researchers have found that smoking causes a marked reduction in the production of new collagen. Decreased collagen results in the development of wrinkles.

What are the treatment options for wrinkles?

There are numerous over-the-counter treatment options for wrinkles. Removing skin layers to reduce wrinkles or irregular depressions is an effective way to regain smoother, more youthful-looking skin. Dermabrasion (sanding layers away) and chemical peels (dissolving skin away) are two of the traditional methods used in skin resurfacing. Laser skin resurfacing with an erbium or carbon dioxide laser rejuvenates skin by stimulating the body’s repair mechanisms. Other nonablative laser procedures work by heating the skin to stimulate the production of collagen. Replacing loss of subcutaneous fat or bone volume with fillers and softening muscle contractions with toxin injections are the latest techniques developed to repair prematurely aging skin and wrinkles.

If you are considering treatment for your wrinkles, ask your doctor which procedure is right for you. There is no replacement for your doctor's professional advice. Each person has his or her own individual needs; similarly, each procedure fulfills its own specific need.

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