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Behnaz Fayazi, MD
Environmental Factors Of Aging
Behnaz Fayazi, MD

Environmental Factors Of Aging

The two important environmental factors involved in aging of the skin are sun exposure and smoking.
The Sun. Just a few minutes of direct sun exposure each day over the years can cause noticeable changes to the skin as a person ages. Sun exposure can cause freckles, fine and coarse wrinkles, loose skin, and a blotchy complexion.
“Photoaging” is the medical term used to describe this type of aging caused by the exposure to the sun. The amount of photoaging that develops depends on a persons skin color and their history of long-term or intense sun exposure. People with fair skin develop more signs of photoaging than those with dark skin.
With repeated exposure to the sun, the skin loses the ability to repair itself. Scientific studies have shown that repeated ultraviolet (UV) exposure breaks down collagen and impairs the synthesis of new collagen. Skin tends to become loose and wrinkled much earlier with unprotected exposure to sunlight.
Smoking. The effects of smoking on skin aging has been recognized for a long time. Even passive smoking is damaging to your skin and to your health. Unfair though it seems whether you smoke or just breathe in other peoples smoke your skin will suffer the same symptoms as smokers. Smoking is associated with increased wrinkling and skin damage on many parts of the body, and not just the face.
Smoking speeds up skin aging in a number of ways. It starts with the free radicals formed in your body by the exposure to cigarette smoke. Research shows that a person who smokes 10 or more cigarettes a day for a minimum of 10 years is statistically more likely to develop deeply wrinkled and leathery skin, than a nonsmoker. A study conducted in 2002 showed that facial wrinkling, while not yet visible, can be seen under a microscope in smokers as young as 20.
Prevention Prevention of photoaging is extremely important. While you cannot stop or even slow down the intrinsic aging process, you can prevent signs of premature aging by protecting your skin from the sun and smoking cessation. Comprehensive sun protection includes
Avoiding deliberate tanning, including use of indoor tanning devices.
Wearing protective clothing when outdoors during the day.
Applying sunscreen year round. Sunscreen should be effective against UVA and UVB. It should have a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. It should be applied 20 minutes before going outdoors to all skin that will be exposed. It should be reapplied after sweating or being in water.
Treatment A variety of surgical and non-surgical treatment options are available, however, the damages caused by the sun and smoking can never be reversed. Non-surgical treatment options include the application of Botox, injectable fillers, such as Juvederm, Restylane, and Radiesse, and laser therapy. Surgical options include face and neck lifts, eyelid surgery, and browlift. As with any other cosmetic procedure, the best treatment needs to be tailored to the individual patients needs and conditions. Given the variety of options, a consultation with an informed and skillful plastic surgeon is highly recommended.

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