The word "prejuvenation" is new to most people. It basically refers to things we can do for ourselves when we are young to maintain our youth. Some of these things maintain the youth of the body and some maintain the youth of the face. In toll, these practices can contribute to an optimized quality of life. Below I will list my ten favorite anti-aging practices.
Daily use of sunblock SPF30 or greater
This one is a no-brainer. Sunblock usage reduces the skin's exposure to damaging UV radiation. Consistent use of a physical (not chemical) sunblock will provide long-term benefits in the form of fewer wrinkles and sun spots that could mar the skin's youthful appearance. An additional bonus, of course, would be a reduction in the incidence of skin cancer on sun exposed areas of the body.
Daily intake of oral Vitamin C supplements
Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin that is the most important vitamin involved in the formation of healthy collagen. Vitamin C is commonly found in dietary form in foods such as the following: broccoli, cantaloupe, cauliflower, kale, kiwi, orange juice, papaya, red, green or yellow pepper, sweet potato, strawberries and tomatoes. When you don't or can't eat a diet rich in these foods, oral supplementation with 1000mg of Vitamin C per day can help provide this important nutrient to the body. Healthy collagen levels mean better structure to your skin, bones, hair, etc.
Get a healthy dose of omegas in your diet
Many people enjoy fish in their diet. However, it is impossible to eat enough fish on a daily basis to get a healthy amount of omega fatty acid intake. Fish oil supplements in the amount of 1000-2000mg daily have been found to be very important for psychiatric health, eye health, brain growth and early development during pregnancy, improving cardiac risk factors, reducing symptoms of ADHD in children, reducing inflammation, reducing symptoms of metabolic syndrome, improving age related mental decline and Alzheimer's and keeping skin healthy and pliable.
It is well known that smoking contributes to multiple different disease states. As far as your skin is concerned, the chemicals in smoke contribute to damage to the skin topically and via increasing levels of antioxidants. The act of smoking also creates motion wrinkles around the mouth ("smoker's lines"). Finally, vitamin C levels in smokers tend to be about 15% less in smokers vs. non-smokers. This leads to problems with poor wound healing and makes smokers high risk for many plastic surgery procedures.
Decrease your sugar intake
A diet high in sugar is very damaging to the skin. It leads to glycosylation of the cell membrane. Collagen and elastin are two important proteins that are particularly susceptible to glycosylation. Damage to these proteins leads to sallow, less plump and more wrinkled/sagging skin.
Engage in vigorous exercise for at least 30 minutes a day
Our increasingly busy personal and professional lives make it difficult to get to the gym for many people. Exercise often gets neglected. It is important to get at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise per day. Besides the cardiovascular benefits, exercise is associated with the production of hormones that provides a sense of well-being and that help with sleep. Exercise is associated with reduced levels of obesity and can prevent yo-yo weight changes that result in loose skin.
Early use of neurotoxins can slow down the development of wrinkles
Neurotoxins like Botox, Dysport and Xeomin have proven effects of reducing the appearance of wrinkles. With the prevalence of small screen usage there is an increased incidence of wrinkling around the eyes and furrowing of the brows. Young people spend large amounts of time on their devices making these motions and this can lead to premature wrinkling. Use of neurotoxins can help ward off the early signs of wrinkling in these areas.
Retin-A isn't just for acne anymore
Retin-A, a vitamin A derivative, is one of the most commonly used anti-aging topical therapies for the skin. It was initially developed as a treatment for acne, but was found to have remarkable skin improving properties. As we age, our skin's epidermal layer (what you see) gets thicker and the dermal layer (the strength layer) gets thinner. This leads to thin skin that wrinkles and shows cosmetic imperfections like brown spots. Routine use of Retin-A, and less effectively with gentler retinols, causes a reversal of this process to some extent. The superficial layer exfoliates and cosmetically improves while the deeper layer strengthens. This leads to more beautiful skin!
Getting noninvasive skin treatments can help maintain the integrity of the skin over time
Procedures such as RF skin tightening, IPL (intense pulse light), laser resurfacing, microneedling and chemical peels can help keep skin healthy and blemish free. Each treatment can result in improved collagen in the skin and/or improvements in the complexion. Yearly maintenance with these procedures can ward off the signs of facial aging. They are also more economical than surgery with less downtime in most cases.
Sleep is the most neglected anti-aging tool we have
Sleep is needed for so many repair processes. There is an epidemic of poor sleep in this country. The average adult should get 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. Sadly, most don't. Reduced sleep leads to increases in cortisol, the stress hormone. Too much cortisol leads to retention of fat. This can lead to sleep apnea and its associated disease states.
Proper sleep hygiene has been associated with improved mood, better daytime alertness, improved memory retention, decreases in inflammation and slowing of age-related mental decline. Don't neglect your sleep. Use blue light blockers on your digital devices at night to help you fall asleep properly. Avoid exercise or stimulants within 3 hours of bedtime. Avoid alcohol as a sleep aid because it actually interferes with your sleep. Self-care is anti-aging.
Choose a board-certified plastic surgeon
This list shows us that there are many things we can do for ourselves that can promote the maintenance of our physical youth and beauty. It just takes practice. And, when the time comes for more professional help, make sure you consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon who is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
- Manish Shah, MD | Denver, CO
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons of Her Body Bank.