Treating Aging Skin
New innovations in skin rejuvenation continue to develop, ranging from
topically applied "cosmeceuticals" to new surgical techniques. A thorough
understanding of how your skin changes as you age and how the sun affects your
skin can help you decide with your doctor what treatment is best.
How Can I Maintain Healthy Skin?
The best way to keep skin healthy is to avoid sun exposure beginning early in life. Here are some other tips:
- Do not sunbathe or visit tanning parlors and try to
stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
- If you are in the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
always wear protective clothing?such as a hat, long-sleeved shirt, and
- Put on sunscreen lotion before going out in the sun to
help protect your skin from UV light. Remember to reapply the lotion as
needed. Always use products that are SPF (sun protection factor) 15 or higher.
- Check your skin often for signs of skin cancer. If there are changes
that worry you, call the doctor right away. The American Academy of
Dermatology suggests that older, fair-skinned people have a yearly skin check
by a doctor as part of a regular physical check-up.
- Relieve dry skin problems by using a humidifier at home, bathing with soap less often (use a moisturizing body wash
instead), and using a moisturizing lotion. If this doesn't work, see your doctor.
What are the Treatment Options for Aging Skin?
The doctor's palette of resurfacing options continues to expand. In patients with early skin aging changes, nonsurgical
treatment methods such as tretinoin, vitamin C, and alpha hydroxy acids may provide satisfactory improvement. Chemical peels,
dermabrasion and laserabrasion may be used alone or in combination with other surgical procedures to treat moderate to severe
degrees of facial photodamage.
Deeper facial lines may be treated with botulinum toxin or soft tissue enhancement, including collagen, autologous fat,
and Goretex implants. Patients with more sagging, excess skin will benefit from additional procedures such as facelift,
browlift, and blepharoplasty (surgical reconstruction of the eyelid). Treatment must be individualized accordingly to the
patient's facial characteristics and cosmetic concerns.
Here is more detail about some of the more popular treatment options:
- Chemical peels. Chemical peels are effective for removing fine lines and smoothing out the skin. Chemical
peels remove the upper surface of the skin to expose newer, clearer skin. After the upper layers of the skin have been
removed, a new layer of skin develops. Chemical peels can be used in areas, such as the eyelids and around the mouth,
that are not improved by a facelift. Depending on the patient's skin type and degree of sun damage, a superficial,
medium or deep chemical peel may be the
- Dermabrasion. Dermabrasion
removes lines and some scarring and can be used to treat moderate to severe
photodamage (sun damage). In dermabrasion, the doctor sands away the top layer
of skin, thus it has similar side effects and complications as medium to deep
chemical peels. However, because of the bleeding associated with dermabrasion
and variations in skill and technique, the control of wounding is not as
accurate as with current laserabrasion technology. Dermabrasion is not done on
the thin skin around the eyes. Care must also be taken when dermabrading the
skin around the mouth.
- Laser resurfacing. In the past few years, the development of high-energy carbon dioxide lasers has
enhanced physicians' ability to improve photoaged skin, various types of scars and other dermatologic conditions.
The precise depth control and ability to treat large areas in a relatively short amount of time makes these carbon
dioxide lasers valuable tools. Before laser resurfacing is performed, your doctor will discuss with you other
treatment options, what to expect during recovery, how to take care of your skin after the procedure, and possible
side effects and complications. Camouflage makeup suggestions will also be discussed.
Reviewed by the doctors at The Cleveland Clinic, Department of
Charlotte E. Grayson, MD, Sept. 2003.
Portions of this page ©
The Cleveland Clinic 2000-2003
Last Editorial Review: 1/31/2005 6:16:18 AM