Wrinkle Prevention & Treatment Part 1

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So, I'm 28 years old and am already really bothered by the wrinkles and fine lines on my face. Is anyone else with me on this? I have bad crows feet around my eyes that go all the way down my cheeks. I also have forehead wrinkles, which I think all of us do. My husband has pretty deep-set crows feet as well and since they're called "smile lines," he's been jokingly saying that we laugh and smile too much in our house. I've been saying that I should be more like Victoria Beckham, but if you know me then you know that's never going to happen. I mean, I "won" Funniest Laugh in 8th grade and have always been someone who laughs too much and too loudly. I technically was also Posh Spice in my crew as a kid but that’s really just because my best friend and I bullied our little sisters into letting us get the “coolest” Spice Girls.

So, what are the REAL solutions for wrinkle treatment and prevention? I’ve been wondering so I went to Schweiger Dermatology and saw Jessica Kaylor, MMS, PA-C. Make sure to follow Jessica on Instagram @the.skin.guru for lots of helpful skin tips! I have seen Jessica for years now for all of my dermatological needs and really respect her as a practitioner. I know that she helps her patients with a lot of cosmetic concerns and I wanted to start tackling my wrinkles with her leading the mission. Not only is she a great practitioner, but she is young and relatable and just "gets it." She isn't a 65 year old man who cannot understand why some light wrinkles at a young age would bother me. Instead, she completely understood. 

I went in thinking that I was abnormally young to address these concerns but Jessica told me that 30 is the "hot number" age when women start showing up in her office talking about how to address their wrinkles (men come in in large numbers around age 40). She said that she's seen 19 year olds come into her office who are good candidates for Botox because their wrinkles are deep at a young age (but said that doesn't mean that she wouldn't suggest that a 19 year old get Botox). 

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Contributing Factors

So, why do some people start to see wrinkles at young ages? Genetics play a role and I definitely can see that I have prominent wrinkles in some of the places that my mom has prominent wrinkles.

Another big player is anatomy. Jessica describes the muscles that form a circle around my eye as "strong" and therefore says that they are able to pull a lot and cause creases. I said that I like how she used a positive adjective to describe something negative haha. The more that I use those muscles, the stronger that they become. They also continue to crease over and over again. She used the analogy of ironing a skirt. At rest, your skin will be like a freshly ironed skirt and sit flat and smooth. As you sit, move and wear it though (aka smile, talk...), more and more wrinkles will appear. The more you let those wrinkles stay there, the deeper they will become. I've been using my "strong" cheek muscles and muscles around my eyes so much, that now even when they are at rest, some of those creases remain as "fine lines."

The third contributor is just the natural aging process. As we get older, our skin thins and therefore more things (dark spots, under eye circles, wrinkles, veins, bones...) become increasingly more prominent. The elasticity in our skin decreases as we age naturally. Sun exposure also speeds up the thinning of our skin. 

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Prevention:

Jessica says that the cheapest and easiest thing that we can do is stay out of the sun...like yesterday. For the past couple of years I've been religious about wearing sunscreen every single day (winter included) and wearing (+reapplying) 55 SPF whenever I am in the sun (I used to only wear sunscreen if I was out in the sun and wore lower SPFs). I was telling her how I worship the sun and how one of my all time favorite things in life is feeling the sun on my face and how that's such a hard thing to give up. This past summer I wore hats a lot more, but I was not perfect about it and the rest of my skin only had SPF on it. She said that the sun releases chemicals in our brains so it’s basically addictive. She said that she's not 1000 percent perfect at it either but that she tries to at least not let her face, neck and hands see the sun since those are “tell tale” age spots. She said that sometimes she will lay with her head and neck in the shade and the rest of her body in the sun (with high SPF on) in order to compromise. Otherwise she stays totally out of the sun (and still wears SPF because reflections and other things can still let UV rays touch your skin even if you’re in the shade). I feel like I can get on board with the compromising plan. I know that I have to get better at this and I know that since I already have made big progress with it in the past few years, I can continue to improve. I can't go back in time so I am vowing to be better (but I'm not going to be perfect with zero sun exposure...I will be perfect about zero unprotected sun exposure and will be mostly good about hats +shade) moving forward. 

The other thing that we can start doing now is use retinoids. She has the ability to prescribe retinoid ointments that are much stronger than the retinal products that you can buy from beauty stores because the FDA cannot regulate those in the same way. She wrote me a prescription for this and I will start off using it twice a week and then gradually increase the amount of days that I use it. If you increase it too quickly, it can burn and cause irritation, so you have to get your skin used to it slowly. By using this, I will be putting chemicals on my face, which I don't love. I also don't love wrinkles though so I think that just like I pick and choose certain things in life to do natural versus not (like eating organic produce and then eating pizza on the weekends), I will pick and choose with my skincare. I will try to be really good about using other natural products and makeup and then leave "room" for this retinoid. My mom has had really good results with it and she only started using it in her fifties so I'm sure if I start using it at 28 it can make a bigger difference. 

Botox can be preventative of future wrinkles and worse wrinkles. That’s because injecting botox into a muscle will weaken that muscle. Remember how we said that the muscles that are causing my crows feet are "strong?" Well, if we weaken them, they won't keep creasing my skin over and over again. The less that I crease it, the less that the fine lines will stay while I am "at rest." Basically, if they aren't used as much, they won't be doing as much damage in the whole wrinkled skirt analogy. However, Botox wears off so if you don't get it again once it has worn off, then the creasing will just start back up again. Regardless, any period of time where I’m not continuously creasing the wrinkles as deep, is still more time than it would be without Botox. Therefore, it has preventative properties that essentially stall the production of deep wrinkles. 

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Treatments:

Obviously, we already discussed retinoid, which is used to treat AND prevent wrinkles. Mine was not expensive because I have some acne (which it also helps) so she was able to order it through insurance. 

Jessica sees great results with Botox as a treatment and said that I am a perfect candidate for it. I got Botox in my crows feet. I also got a tiny bit in my forehead and in between my eyebrows (she thinks that they go hand in hand and should be done together so that it doesn't look odd). She didn’t do a lot of it at all so that I will still be able to be really expressive and so that it looks natural and not frozen. Botox is not a permanent fix and it lasts about 4 months (she reccomends that patients get it done twice a year and in some rare cases 3 times a year). The next post in this series will be about getting the Botox, so stay tuned! We will be diving into Botox and solely discussing it plus my experience with it in the next post. 

Fraxel laser is also a great treatment for wrinkles. It can really get into the deep layers of your skin and correct dark spots, wrinkles and fine lines that have happened throughout your life thus far. She said that it is pretty magical for correcting and reversing damage that has been done. It will not prevent wrinkles from forming and as soon as you go into the sun again (which you shouldn't), you will start to lose some of the efficacy of the treatment. However, if you stay out of the sun, the benefits that you get from the Fraxel can last a lifetime. Obviously, you will still be naturally aging and seeing effects but you will be able to permanently make a change in the wrinkles that you have so far (unlike Botox, which you may need 2-3 times a year). Botox and Fraxel are two peas in a pod though and compliment each other really well! Botox stops your muscles from wrinkling the skirt/holds it smoothed out, Fraxel resurfaces and actually IRONS it out!

I hope that this information was as educational and helpful for you as it was for me! I’m excited to counterbalance these harsh ‘before’ photos with some ‘after photos so that we can see the efficacy of Botox. FYI I intentionally wore no makeup for these photos so that you can see all of the true details easily (even though makeup has been sinking into my wrinkles and hardly helping). I look forward to sharing my experience with getting the Botox injections in my next post of this series!