Banner Health Services  

What causes skin to wrinkle?


Brenda LaTowsky, MD, is a dermatologist on staff at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center at Glendale, Ariz.

Question: What exactly causes skin to wrinkle and age? How can I maintain healthy, younger looking skin?

Answer: As skin matures, two things inevitably happen: skin loses its elasticity and its volume. So, when you make various facial expressions, such as a frown or squint, the skin doesn’t bounce back the way it once did during youth. As a result, the lines that form during these expressions can become deep, prominent features on our faces. This can lead to a tired, old, and even angry look, which are common complaints from patients. 

Of course, some people are fortunate to have good genetics that can result in less sagging and wrinkling than the average person. On the other hand, some people inherit skin that requires more tender loving care.

The best weapon to prevent premature aging is sunscreen. Most people don’t realize sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, including before every day activities such as driving to work or running errands. Even incidental sun exposure accumulates and can cause premature aging.

Along with regular use of sunscreen, depending on their skin type or condition, I usually recommend that patients use several types of skin products, including: Oil of Olay’s Regenerist line (containing peptides); prescription products like Retin-A or Renova (containing tretinoin); and, products containing antioxidants, such as coffeeberry, ferulic acid, phytic acid, and vitamin C. There are also treatment options that can be administered by a dermatologist, such as botulinum toxin and fillers, which are often used to safely restore a youthful appearance.

It is important to note that it’s never too early to begin a healthy skincare regimen. Many of my patients start a regimen immediately after coming to see me that will both help and prevent aging skin. Similarly, it is never too late to start a quality skin care regimen. Many of my patients have endured years of exposure to the intense Arizona sun, yet we have found healthy and effective skin treatment regimens that have produced noticeable improvements.

Page Last Modified: 12/01/2011
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