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How Age Affects Our Skin

Stand a 20-year-old next to a 70-year-old and there’s no mistaking the effect that 50-year’s worth of time takes on a body. We undergo many changes as we age, and although there are many 70-year-olds who are mentally as sharp as that 20-year-old, you’d be hard pressed to find one that looks physically similar!

One of the most obvious ways we show our age is by our skin. If you’ve ever wondered exactly why that is, then this page is for you! We all know that there are three, distinct layers of skin: the epidermis (outer), the dermis (middle) and the subcutaneous (inner) layer. Each of these layers undergoes significant transformation with the passage of time contributing to the skin’s appearance as we get older. Let’s talk about the subcutaneous layer first.

We all know that we tend to put on weight as we age. So, this would seem to go against the principle that our fat layer tends to thin out as we age, right? Not really. You see, as we get older, fat cells tend to accumulate in certain areas (tummy and hips) and it thins in others. Specifically, in our faces. That’s right! If you think of the fat in your face as the air in a balloon and your skin as the balloon’s surface, then you get a better idea of how the loss of facial fat can trigger our skin to look stretched out, loose and wrinkled.

The dermis also goes through some dramatic changes with time. This layer is where much of our connective tissue lives. The main two components of connective tissue are collagen and elastin. These help our skin look firm and supple. They also help our skin stay “elastic”, meaning that it can withstand changes (like the loss of fat in the layer beneath it!). Over time, our bodies stop making as much collagen, which means our skin becomes less pliable as we age and starts to sag and look less plump. We also lose vascularity in this layer. This means that over time, our skin becomes less nourished and that is why it loses its luster and takes a lot longer to heal. The last big change in the dermis is the loss of oil production. Our oil glands are attached to our hair follicles in this layer, and although the number of them doesn’t change over time, they become much less active. This is especially true if you are a post-menopausal woman. These changes trigger the skin to appear dry and dull.

Let’s not forget about our outermost layer, the epidermis. It starts our very thick and the cells are very organized and neat when we are young. This helps our skin look bright and acts as a protectant for the deeper layers. As we age, it thins out and the cells become disorganized. As babies, we regenerate the very top layer of epidermis, the stratum corneum, in about 14 days. By the time we are 50 years old, the same process takes us around 37 days! Yep, everything slows down as the years pass by!

Lastly, in every layer of skin, time steals away precious hyaluronic acid. This little, sugar-like molecule holds up to 1,000 times its own weight in water! Our skin is packed with it when we are young, and you guessed it—as we age, we lose it along with the smoothness and suppleness that it provides our skin.

The good news is (yes, there IS good news!) we not only understand aging skin, but we can fight the effects of time with a combination of good skin care, laser treatments and injectables, like dermal fillers, Dysport and Botox. Because these targeted treatments help replace lost volume, boost collagen and hyaluronic acid, and help older skin look and function more like youthful skin, you really can “grow old gracefully”! Come see us today and let us help you get on the road to smoother, tighter, more radiant looking skin.

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Related Links

Skin Science Overview

pH and the Acid Mantle

Skin Anatomy

Skin Fitness

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