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Health November 2012

Aid for Age

Got Rhytids? You Could Try to Get Rid of Them, But Are You Sure You Want To?

By Tait Trussell

As you age, your skin loses elasticity — the ability to stretch and retract. Poor elasticity makes skin “settle, hang and fold.” Result: wrinkles. Some of the problem areas for women older than 60, Mayo says, include the eyes, lips, and chin, as if you didn’t know.

There’s trouble on the rhytids front. Rhytids is the scientific name for wrinkles, ladies.

The French cosmetics giant, L’Oreal SA, has been charged with over-promising. The company’s U.S. subsidiary, Lancome, has claimed its product “boosts the activity of genes and stimulates the production of youth.”

“Whoa,” says the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The suggestion that any product is aimed at affecting the way the body works has to be classified as a new drug and therefore comes under FDA control.

“Good skin-care regimen along with regular use of an anti-wrinkle cream may lessen the appearance of wrinkles and help fight off common signs of aging,” according to the Mayo Clinic. It’s never too old to start taking care of your skin.

As you age, your skin loses elasticity — the ability to stretch and retract. Poor elasticity makes skin “settle, hang and fold.” Result: wrinkles. Some of the problem areas for women older than 60, Mayo says, include the eyes, lips, and chin, as if you didn’t know.

What Lancome pitches sounds desirable. An eye product and a night cream that have been shown to “improve the condition around the stem cells and stimulate cell regeneration to reconstruct skin to a denser quality.” That’s also going too far, says the FDA.

A facial cosmetic procedure is being widely advertised on network TV these days. It’s called Lifestyle Lift. It’s a type of facial surgery. This year, Grammy-winning singer, author, and television personality, Debby Boone, known for her hit song "You Light Up My Life,” became the spokesperson for the company in its television commercials and infomercial.

The procedure is advertised as a minimally invasive, short flap face lift performed under local anesthesia. The procedure involves removing the excess skin. Published reports show an increased incidence of complications associated with general and intravenous anesthesia. The Lifestyle Lift procedure can cost from $6,000 to $12,000 depending on how much repair work is done.

The wealth of wrinkle treatments now available can be bewildering. They range from botox to fat recycling. But which one is right for you?

Here’s one guide to supposedly the top ten treatments available.

1. Botox, or Botulinium Toxin Type A. It’s an injectable toxin derived from bacteria. It temporarily eliminates frown lines and upper lip creases. It is injected in minute quantities and softens facial lines by paralyzing brow muscles. Effects last for three to four months. Used in excess, Botox can temporarily cause drooping eyelids, frozen foreheads, crooked smiles, even drooling.

2. Collagen is a purified “natural” injectable protein filler derived from cows. It is called a first step in the battle against aging. It smooths out wrinkles and scars instantaneously and lasts for up to four months. It works best on the lower face and lips. A small percentage of women suffer an allergic reaction involving red, itchy, disfiguring lumps. Experts advise getting two skin tests a month before the jabs.

3. Hyaluronic acid is an injectable filler derived from the combs of roosters or bacteria grown in a lab. Brands include Restylane and Perlane. It purportedly reduces the effects of aging. Within a few days, crows' feet, lip wrinkles and nose-to-mouth lines fill out. It lasts 6-12 months. There's a risk of bruising and acne. The effects are said to last longer than those of collagen.

4. Fat recycling. Fat from your stomach or thighs is extracted and injected into your face. A 60 percent improvement in wrinkles, sometimes lasting years. It’s effective for deeper creases.

5. Softform: a spongy piece of tubing is implanted into deep wrinkles. It is a permanent solution to facial lines. But it takes up to three months for the full effect to be visible. You look like a hamster for a few days and have to have stitches in your face.

6. N-Lite is a non-surgical laser treatment. It emits a cooling spray to protect the epidermis, and heats the dermis. A laser heats blood vessels, stimulating collagen production and reducing wrinkles by around 50 per cent.

7. Laser resurfacing: A resurfacing laser goes deep into the skin, heating tissues. Only one step away from a surgical face lift, the laser gives off an intense beam, removing damaged outer skin layers and stimulating production of collagen. Dramatic improvements are promised. It has to be done under sedation by a qualified dermatologist or plastic surgeon. You may need months to recover, so, you may have to hide away.

8. ERP is a system of electric acupuncture used to treat neck lines, facial wrinkles, broken veins and open pores. It purportedly can take ten years off your skin with electrical waves delivered via ultra-fine needles. It’s called “a gym for the face.”

9. Permanent fillers: Synthetic filler made from hyaluronic acid or collagen mixed with resin-like micro-spheres. Injected deep into an area, it plumps out lines. The collagen degrades; particles remain. It’s a controversial treatment. Swelling, nodules and facial disfigurement may develop. Most surgeons won't use them, as very little long-term research has been done.

10. Micro crystals: The face is sprayed with crystals to remove the outer layer of skin and stimulate the circulation. It exfoliates skin to give a 50 percent reduction in lines. The gentle exfoliation is often combined with a cleansing facial. Sensitive skin could react; improvements are short-term, lasting only a couple of months.

Of course, you could always just learn to live with wrinkles and grow old gracefully.


Tait Trussell is an old guy and fourth-generation professional journalist who writes extensively about aging issues among a myriad of diverse topics.

Meet Tait