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What can I do about my aging face?

Even if you have great genes and look much younger than you are, age-related changes in our facial appearance are unavoidable. Those changes reflect our joys and challenges in life. One approach is to simply celebrate our age and appearance for what they are.

Not everyone is comfortable with that, and some might like to postpone embracing those changes.

The age-defying facelift, which surgically removes excess tissue and lifts sagging skin in the lower part of the face, is one way to try to stem the tides of time. Facelifts have improved, so the results tend to look more natural. But the surgery is expensive, and other procedures may be needed to achieve the desired results. The facelift procedure is just one of the more popular cosmetic procedures; there are plenty of alternatives for altering the aging face. Although most of these rejuvenating procedures are nonsurgical, in most cases a treatment course of between 3 and 8 sessions is required to get best results.

Here is just a sample of some of the things that you can do — or get done — to give your face a more youthful appearance:

Sun protection. Protecting your face from the sun is the single best way of keeping it youthful. Much of the damage comes from the UVA part of the light spectrum, so you need to put on sunscreen that protects against it and UVB light, which causes sunburn. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat is also a good idea.

Creams and lotions. Moisturisers soothe dry skin and may temporarily make wrinkles less noticeable. Moisturisers for the face contain water to make them less greasy, and many have substances — glycerin, for example — that may help bind water to the skin. Exfoliant creams can improve the appearance of older skin by getting rid of dead skin cells that don’t slough off as readily as they did when we were young.

Retinoids, (compounds related to vitamin A) work by inducing collagen production in the dermis and altering melanin, the pigment that causes sun spots. The most commonly prescribed retinol in the UK is tretinoin.

Botulinum toxin injections. These injections are used to treat the expression lines of the forehead and between the brows. They work by partially immobilizing the muscles that form expression lines so the skin smoothes out, although some deep expression lines may not go away.

Dermal fillers. Dermal fillers are used to treat lines created by lost collagen and fat. After botulinum toxin injections, dermal filler injections are the most common cosmetic procedure performed in the UK. Prime locations for the injections are the lines that extend down from the nose to the corners of the mouth, known as the nasolabial folds, and another pair that extends down from the corners of the mouth to the chin, known as marionette lines.

Many different materials are used as dermal filler. Currently, the most popular one is hyaluronic acid, a complex sugar found naturally in many tissues. Hyaluronic acid is generally well tolerated and lasts between 6-12 months..

Laser treatments. Lasers can be used to home in on certain pigments: brown, if the goal is to get rid of freckles and liver spots, red if the target is broken capillaries. They’re also used for wholesale resurfacing of facial skin. The uppermost layers are stripped away, and with them, wrinkles from sun damage and scars from acne. The energy from some “nonablative” resurfacing lasers passes through the outer layer of the skin to work at a deeper level, in the dermis, to stimulate inflammation, which leads to collagen formation.

Skin needs time to recover after most laser treatments and treatments which introduce additional heat into the skin (sauna, hot tub) should be avoided for 48 hours following any laser treatment.

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