The skin – the mirror of old age

The skin – the mirror of old age. With an average of two square meters, the skin is our largest body organ. It protects us from heat, cold, and the penetration of pathogens.

Our skin constantly secretes water through tiny openings, the pores, particularly when the outside temperature is high and when doing sports. The water serves as a coolant and keeps our body temperature constant. But our skin is also a sensory organ. The numerous nerves allow us to distinguish between touch, surface textures, pain, heat, or cold.

Flawless skin and fresh complexion are also symbols of beauty and youth. Unfortunately, like any other organ, our skin ages over the years. The skin of the face is the thinnest and most prone to signs of aging. Over the years, it increasingly loses its supportive cushion and moisture. The skin sags become drier and more wrinkled.

How quickly our skin ages depends on many factors. On the one hand, our genetic makeup determines the aging process. On the other hand, external influences are decisive. So-called free radicals in particular caused problems for the skin. Free radicals are aggressive oxygen compounds that are constantly being created in our bodies. This is all-natural and even important because free radicals activate our immune system. However, if they occur in large quantities, they attack our body cells. The skin cells are not spared either. The skin ages faster becomes rough, dry, wrinkled, and blotchy.

A healthy, conscious lifestyle and the right skincare can counteract the formation of radicals and have a positive effect on the skin aging process.

Too much sun makes the skin age faster. Fine lines of dryness and wrinkles appear especially on the forehead, cheeks, and around the eyes. You should, therefore, protect your skin from harmful UV radiation. If you don’t want to do without sunbathing, then it makes sense to avoid the midday heat. The best time to sunbathe is before 11 a.m. or after 3 p.m. To protect against sunburn, it is best to apply a thick layer of sunscreen (at least 15) to your skin 30 minutes before sunbathing. And renew your sunscreen every two hours to keep the protection up. You should also reapply waterproof creams after bathing and showering.

Make sure you have a balanced, varied diet. Fruits and vegetables, whole-grain cereals and low-fat milk or dairy products should be on your menu every day. For meat, sausage, and fish, it is sufficient to eat small portions two to three times a week. Prefer the low-fat variants of these foods.

Drink at least 1.5 to 2 liters a day – even more if the outside temperature is high or if you lose sweat through exercise. If your body lacks fluid, your skin will also show it: it becomes rough, flaky, and cracked. In the long run, it gets small wrinkles and loses tension. Recommended thirst quenchers are mineral water, juice spritzers, and unsweetened herbal and fruit teas.

Smoking makes the skin pale and gray in the long run and accelerates skin aging. The blue haze creates many free radicals in the body that damage our cells. Nicotine also narrows blood vessels. The skin is therefore poorly supplied with blood and receives fewer nutrients. When you smoke, you should get more vitamins A, C, and E to protect your skin and body cells. For example, the vitamin C requirement of smokers has increased by more than 50 percent. The vitamin – together with vitamins A and E – can render free radicals harmless.

The skin – the mirror of old age

Give your skin enough sleep. A lack of sleep puts the skin under stress because it cannot recover properly from the stresses of the day. The complexion deteriorates noticeably. Seven to eight hours of sleep is ideal, but this can vary depending on your sleep type.

Would you like to do more for your skin? A lot of exercises ensures good blood circulation in the skin and makes it look fresh and rosy. And the skin cells are well supplied with nutrients through the blood. In addition, trained muscles can tighten the overlying skin.

As the skin matures, it usually becomes increasingly lacking in oil and moisture. This is especially true for women, but also for the male gender. To prevent your skin from drying out unnecessarily, you should not use soap or washing gel to clean it. Alternatively, soap-free and pH-neutral syndets can be used. In the morning, clear water is usually sufficient. For men, for example, alcohol-free after-shave balm is recommended. This does not dry out the skin and contains substances such as panthenol that soothe the skin. In the evening you can gently remove any make-up with moisturizing cleansing milk. In principle, the cleaning products selected should contain as few fragrances, dyes, or preservatives as possible.

For the daily day and night care of mature skin, products with ingredients such as vitamin A, coenzyme Q 10, lipids, or trace elements such as copper are recommended. They promote the formation of collagen, which supports and plumps the skin. Creams with hyaluronic acid are also beneficial. They help the skin to retain moisture. The more moisture the skin stores, the plumper and smoother it looks. Unfortunately, even the best wrinkle cream cannot conjure up wrinkles – at best, the skin is slightly tightened. However, active ingredients such as vitamin A, E, and coenzyme Q 10 can protect the skin from free radicals and thus delay skin aging.

For some years now, fruit acids such as alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) have also been discussed as anti-wrinkle agents. They are added to creams or gels and accelerate the peeling process of the horny layer. So they are supposed to promote the renewal of the skin. Since cosmetics can only contain up to ten percent acids and the peeling only has a very superficial effect, it is questionable whether peeling creams actually help against wrinkles. In addition, sensitive skin may react to such a fruit acid peeling with skin irritations. After using an exfoliating cream, make sure you have adequate sun protection when you are in the sun. Because the peeling effect of the creams makes your skin more sensitive to UV radiation.

When it comes to make-up, the following applies: From 40, less is more. The more natural the colors, the more youthful the look. Complexion foundations that resemble your own skin tone are ideal. Make up your lips and eyes discreetly in soft shades. Strong, harsh colors make you older.

The miracle cream for wrinkles has not yet been invented. However, therapies with biological substances that also occur naturally in the body, such as collagen, hyaluronic acid, or autologous fat, promise success. Treatment with the bacterial toxin botulinum toxin can temporarily relax the facial muscles and thus smooth the skin. What all substances have in common, however, is their temporary effect. The substances break down by themselves and must, therefore, be sprayed regularly. In addition, there are artificial preparations that have a permanent effect but carry a significantly higher risk of side effects.

Before deciding on a wrinkle treatment, it is essential to seek advice from specialized doctors. The therapies are not free from risks and improper use can lead to sometimes dangerous side effects. You can usually get reliable and competent information from doctors who are members of the professional associations “Society for Aesthetic Surgery Germany eV” or “German Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery”.

The respective methods of wrinkle treatment have different effects and properties. For example, they last for different lengths of time and have different side effects.

Various methods can be used to combat wrinkles, such as injection or padding of wrinkles with certain substances or treatment with botulinum toxin.

Wrinkle injection

Collagen

Collagen is an endogenous protein and the supporting structure of our connective tissue and can be used for wrinkle injection. Over the years, the collagen content of our skin decreases and it increasingly loses its natural support. Collagen can, therefore, be used to plump up facial wrinkles. To do this, the specialist doctor injects bovine collagen, which is very similar to human collagen, with a fine injection needle directly under the epidermis of the respective fold. Then he distributes the collagen droplets with his finger. The smoothing effect occurs immediately and lasts for up to eight months. Thereafter, a new treatment is necessary. About three percent of those treated have an allergic reaction to the exogenous collagen. Therefore, the doctor must perform an allergy test before the wrinkle injection.

Hyaluronic acid

Hyaluronic acid is a sugar compound that occurs naturally in the body. It is able to bind water and thus fill the spaces between the collagen fibers. In the past, hyaluronic acid was mainly obtained from rooster combs, but now it is mainly produced fermentatively with the help of bacteria. In this way, the risk of allergic reactions to the egg white could be reduced. It is used for wrinkle injections just like collagen. The advantage over collagen: allergies to hyaluronic acid almost never occur. After three to six months, the smoothing effect disappears and the treatment must be repeated.

Autologous fat

When treating wrinkles with autologous fat, the surgeon first removes the body fat, for example from a problem area. The extracted fat is cleaned, processed, and then injected under the folds. The smoothing effect of the wrinkle injection is visible immediately after the swelling has subsided. To achieve a permanent effect, the treatment must be repeated after six to eight weeks. Up to 80 percent of the injected fat can grow. The result lasts for at least three months – sometimes even for life.

Botulinum toxin

Botulinum toxin is a metabolic product of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. The neurotoxin can be fatal in high doses. In low doses, it relaxes cramped muscles by preventing the transmission of excitation from the nerves to the muscles. This effect has been used in wrinkle treatment since the early 1990s. The botulinum toxin is mixed with a saline solution shortly before the injection and injected directly into the muscle that is responsible for the respective fold. The muscle is literally paralyzed and can no longer be tensed. After three days at the latest, the wrinkle disappears or diminishes and the skin appears significantly smoother. The smoothing effect lasts up to six months. Thereafter, the treatment usually needs to be refreshed.

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