Ageing and the skin
MANY of the signs of ageing on the skin are reversible at any age and preventable if you have not yet reached your 30s.
Obviously, every day we live makes us older, but I have learnt in my years of treating skin, that real age has little to do with the chronological age, but is determined by the deterioration of the internal organs and the overall function of the body. The skin, because it is visible, becomes a valuable tool for determining an individual’s overall health.
Wrinkles and sagging skin
Actually, we are born with wrinkles. If not for the creases that follow the lines of the facial muscles, you could not smile, wink or knit your brow. As the skin’s ability to rejuvenate is inhibited by abuse, however, the creases remain there after expression is gone. The failure of the skin to snap back is caused by two factors.
The first factor is loss of elasticity created by the deterioration of the small cone shaped fibres located within the dermis. Just like a rubber band that has been exposed to the elements too long, the elastic fibre fails to totally regain its former shape.
The second factor is the lower rate of cell growth, leaving old, damaged and irregular shaped cells on the outermost surface. The outer cells are flatter and less able to retain moisture and allow the newer cells below to dehydrate before they reach the skin’s surface, creating more old, damaged and irregular cells.
Sagging skin is basically caused by the same two factors. Skin at the throat and neck is actually thicker than the other areas of the face and as elasticity and moisture are lost, the skin droops under its own weight. Excess adipose tissue just underneath the dermis compounds the problem.
The conventional approach for reversing ageing skin has been topical application of a variety of potions that promise to restore moisture content and retention and more recently, those that speed up cell growth. And indeed, many of these cosmetic preparations do those things temporarily. But they are, as the names imply, cosmetics. The visible benefits are fleeting and substance used to create the desired effect can leave the skin in much poorer condition than before treatment.
And when the application of products fails as it always does, there is always plastic surgery. Modern surgical techniques have made this option reasonably effective when performed by skilled professionals. It is, however, expensive, and while it is generally safe, any reputable surgeon will point out a number of risks to patients as well as the possibility of poor results. In addition, once the patient returns to old habits of abusing the skin, the procedure will need to be repeated in three to seven years depending on the condition of the individual.
Now natural rejuvenation provides an exciting an long-term alternative. Just as muscles in the arm respond to tonification, so does the skin. Loss of fatty tissues underlying the dermis can improve circulation to the germinativum layer and exercise in the form of manipulation or massage can actually strengthen elastin fibres and erector pili muscles, creating an overall tightening of the skin.
The process of natural healing (rejuvenation) is not a quick fix. It requires patience and a certain dedication to the regime. On the plus side, it is far more long lasting. You will continue to see the results for many years, both in terms of physical appearance and good health.
Ted Emmanuel is a naturopathic physician, skin, body and health-care specialist.
The contents of this article are for informational purposes only and must not be relied upon as an alternative to advice from your own health practitioner.