Can You Get Younger Looking Skin?
Yes! The evidence surrounding how hormone replacement therapy (HRT) plays a role in anti-aging treatments is solid. For decades, there have been anti-aging creams including eye cream for wrinkles and crow’s feet that claim to be the ‘answer.’ While anti-aging face cream can help reduce fine lines, there are more effective anti-wrinkle treatments available.
This article will review how HRT works, and introduce you to other modern anti-aging treatments. There are products and treatments available today that prevent and reduce the development of wrinkles and slow the signs of aging.
How Is Menopause Associated with Aging
Menopause is a part of a woman’s natural aging process and begins after you’ve gone 12 months without a period. On average menopause occurs at 51 years of age, but the variations are wide. Most women start perimenopause – the years leading up to menopause – at about 35.
There are many symptoms of peri- and menopause including hot flashes and night sweats that affect around 75% of women1 Less frequently discussed are anxiety, sleep disturbances, weight gain, vaginal dryness, low libido, and pain during sex.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can be used to provide relief from menopausal symptoms, preserve bone density (preventing osteoporosis), and may offer benefits for preventing colorectal, uterine, and breast cancers, as well as prevent depression and cognitive decline.1,2,3
As you age and move into perimenopause, at about 35 years of age, your levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone drop. This drop begins long before you are thinking about menopause, but leads to the decline of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and growth hormone that accelerates aging-related changes in the skin.1
Skin and How It Ages
When we look in the mirror we see one layer of skin. Skin is an actual organ, like your heart or brain except that it is far bigger than the other organs in our body. Much of what happens in your skin, like acne, dryness, and even sweat, is impacted by reactions and activities deep within the skin.
The skin has three primary layers, and each layer has a specific job 1) The Epidermis 2) The Dermis 3) The Subcutaneous Layer.
The Epidermis – is the outer layer of skin, and the body’s first line of defense against the outside world including bacteria, viruses, and even the weather. But the epidermis has four of its own thin layers.
The topmost layer is the stratum corneum, which varies in thickness depending on where it is on the body, for example, your feet have thicker skin than your eyelid.
The stratum granulosum. The layer is waxy and makes skin waterproof.
The stratum spinosum binds cells and adds strength and flexibility to your skin cells.
The bottom layer of the epidermis is the stratum basale where the stem cells produce new skin cells that are pushed up to the skin’s surface constantly replacing old skin cells.
The Dermis – is where much of the activity of how your skin looks happens. Collagen and elastin make up most of the dermis. The dermis layer is responsible for:
Delivering nutrients to your skin and removing by-products or toxins.
Sweat glands push sweat through your pores to cool and clear your body of toxins.
Your hair follicles are in the dermis as well as oil glands, which produce the oil that softens and smoothes skin or can cause breakouts and greasiness.
The Subcutaneous Layer – This is the deepest layer of skin and it attaches your bones to your muscle and bones. It is such a deep layer that the active ingredients in skin care products will never reach it. So what does it do?
It insulates the body and works like a thermostat.
Acts to pad and protect your muscles, bones, and organs from injury.
Contains blood vessels, nerves, hair follicle roots, and glands that create oil.
What Happens to The Skin as We Age?
Many of the skin changes you observe with age are due to decreased hormones. For sure there are environmental factors like smoking, and sun exposure but hormones are strongly associated.
The hormones that decrease with menopause can be replaced with HRT. But how effective is HRT at reversing these changes? Very. As we age there are a number of things that happen that make our skin look older and all are related to hormone levels:
The thickness of the epidermis and dermis is reduced,
Collagen and elastin levels decrease, and
When you combine #1 and #2 these changes can lead to dryness and itching, wrinkles and fragility, and finally an increased risk of skin trauma.
Collagen is really what holds it all together when it comes to your skin. A reduction in the amount and quality of collagen within the dermis leads to a loss of elasticity or slackness and wrinkles start to form.
This process is made worse with sun exposure especially in areas that get a lot of sun like your face, which is subject to photo-aging. The most obvious signs of skin aging are saggy skin, eye bags, droopy eyelids, and pores.
Sometimes women feel that it’s too late once these wrinkles start appearing, but we know that HRT can improve the appearance of wrinkles on sun-exposed areas of the body. One study found that topical cream HRT and oral HRT were able to reduce skin slackness.1,4
Another study using estrogen cream for women between 52 – 70 for 7 months significantly helped reduce fine wrinkles.1,5 Another study had women use HRT for at least 5 years and it also produced improvements in skin elasticity with less pronounced wrinkling.1,4,5,6
Retinoic acid is a naturally occurring derivative of vitamin A and is well known for its ability to improve wrinkled skin. A multitude of clinical trials has confirmed that those treated with retinoids were able to reverse aging, prevent aging and inhibit aging. As a result, the Food and Drug Administration approved its use.
A 2015 study published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology concluded that after one year of tropical retinol use, patients’ photodamaged skin showed a significant improvement overall, decreasing the appearance of crow’s feet by 44%.7,8
My dermatologists suggest using a good over-the-counter retinol-based night cream into my skincare regimen. Retinol can really be a game-changer for the appearance of your skin. Collagen and elastin are proteins that help maintain the integrity of the skin and keep it firm, plump, and vibrant.
As we get older, the production of collagen tends to slow down. Retinol creams may help boost collagen production.
What Are the Modern Anti Aging Treatments?
Fine lines and wrinkles are some of what make a person look older. As a result, if there was a way of minimizing their appearance, you can have a more youthful appearance. There are a number of non-invasive anti-aging treatments that you can try in addition to HRT. Non-invasive means they do not require general anesthesia or long recoveries.
The most well-known non-surgical method for removing wrinkles is BOTOX®. Botox, Dysport, or Xeomin, works to relax the facial muscles to minimize the appearance of wrinkles. Specifically, frown lines in between the eyebrows and crow’s feet at the corners of the eyes.
This treatment works because the injection prevents the nerves from communicating with the muscle and reduces muscle activity and keeps the muscles in these areas from tightening. There is usually no recovery time for this cosmetic procedure, but it can take several weeks to see the effects. The results typically last about 3 to 4 months.
Used to treat wrinkles, age spots, sun damage. Wet/dry microdermabrasion is used to exfoliate the skin. Dermabrasion uses a small rotating brush to remove the outer layer of the skin from small areas of the face and new, smoother skin grows to replace it.
New skin will be pink, and there is some scabbing or swelling for a few weeks after the treatment. It can take weeks or months to see the full results.
Like dermabrasion, this treatment removes the top-most layer of skin. But microdermabrasion uses a machine to spray tiny particles on the skin. It is less abrasive than dermabrasion and takes less time to heal.
Your doctor uses acid to peel away the outermost layer of skin. It removes age spots and wrinkles and gives a brighter skin tone. It takes some time to heal after the peel and will appear red for a week or two.
Fractional Laser Skin Resurfacing:
Your doctor uses a special laser to treat narrow columns of skin. The laser actually damages deep layers of skin, which stimulates new skin cell growth.
The damaged areas peel away and reveal smoother younger-looking skin. Fractional laser skin resurfacing can help treat wrinkles and fine lines. You may have some redness, pain, peeling, or scabbing.
Doctors inject fillers into your skin to fill out wrinkles and lines. Popular fillers include collagen, hyaluronic acid gel, and fat. You can use fillers on your lips, face, and hands.
You don’t need downtime after getting filler and will see the results right away. Fillers last from 2 months to 3 years, depending on what type you get.
Non-ablative Skin Rejuvenation:
Non-ablative skin rejuvenation uses lasers and other types of energy to treat wrinkles, age spots, and loss of skin tone. This type of treatment does not remove the outer layer of skin, and you don’t usually need any recovery time.
The role hormone replacement therapy (HRT) plays in anti-aging treatments is a hot topic. While anti-aging face cream can help reduce fine lines, HRT is a more effective anti-wrinkle treatment. There is no doubt that estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone exert beneficial effects on the skin. Reach out to Winona today for your free consultation with our physicians.
“This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.”