Fine lines, crow's feet, frown lines ... all those wonderful expressions for facial wrinkles! "Marionette lines" are creases extending from the mouth to the jaw line and facial "parentheses" are nasolabial grooves occurring from smiling and sagging cheeks. "11s" are vertical lines between your eyebrows when you squint or frown. And "smoker's lines" border the lips. So now that you're a walking thesaurus for wrinkles, what are the causes, prevention strategies and effective treatment options?
Wrinkles form as collagen and elastin decrease with age. Thinning skin, subcutaneous fat loss plus sun damage add to wrinkle formation. "A wrinkle is just a fold or crease in the skin," said dermatologist Pamela S. Kennedy, MD, "but the challenge in medically addressing wrinkles is that there are two different types of wrinkles, resulting in the need for different treatment."
Dynamic wrinkles are caused by repetitive muscle contractions and include forehead wrinkles, creases between the brows and crow's feet at the corner of the eyes. Without muscle contractions in these locations, the skin would be much smoother, said Kennedy, but repeated use of the muscles leads to "etched" wrinkling.
Sagging-related wrinkles are different from dynamic wrinkles. Since we lose adipose tissue with age, the volume that the skin is draped on is lost, and wrinkles become increasingly pronounced. "Adipose volume loss creates a 'hollowness,' and combined with sagging wrinkles makes us look tired and aged," said Kennedy.
Minimizing wrinkling requires multiple actions. Exposure to the sun's UV rays causes the skin to lose elasticity and to form both sagging and dynamic wrinkles.
Daily use of sunscreen reduces the sun's damaging effects. Eliminating the puckering involved with smoking minimizes dynamic wrinkles. Smoking also compromises beneficial antioxidant levels needed for healthy skin.
Eating foods rich in omega 3 oils smooth out fine lines. Fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C stimulate the production of collagen and decrease wrinkling.