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The Age Gauge

When biology and life take over, leaving unwanted wrinkles and fine lines behind, it may just be time to take action…

By Adriana Ermter

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who likes aging? None at all! Well, at least we don’t…and, yet, it still happens. For some, aging is graceful. For the lucky few, it’s imperceptible. But for most, it feels like our eyes are playing tricks on us and we don’t like what we see. Biologically speaking, though, aging is a rite of passage rather than something we can halt – particularly when a set of deep elevens gouges into our forehead, a spiderweb of fine lines tangles around our eyes, and dark age spots, thinning lips and sagging cheeks start reflecting back at us from the mirror.

“It’s the effect of the passage of time on the skin,” explains Dr. Lisa Kellett, a dermatologist and the founder of DLK on Avenue in Toronto. “It is usually depicted as the result of a loss of collagen and elastin in the skin and a change in the ground substance in the skin.”

While your birthday naturally factors into this equation, so can your genetics and lifestyle. If mom and dad’s skin now looks like dried apples, chances are yours may, too. And if you forgo sleep, fruits and vegetables, sunscreen and water for 16-hour days, booze, pizza and wings, you could be adding years to your face. “Intrinsic and extrinsic factors can affect the rate at which people age,” affirms Dr. Kellett. “Examples of intrinsic factors would be genetics and the presence of any health issues. Extrinsic factors would be a history of sun exposure, diet, and exposure to carcinogens.”

And then there’s gender. With the onset of perimenopause, the time during which a woman’s body ends its reproductive years and begins transitioning towards menopause (typically somewhere in the mid 40s to early 50s), women can seemingly age in one fell swoop. Men tend to experience a more gradual process, says Dr. Nowell Solish, a cosmetic dermatologist, the founder of Cosmetic Dermatology Toronto Yorkville and co-director of the Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer Clinic at Women’s College Hospital.

No matter the gender, however, the outcome is similar. As we age, our skin becomes thinner and has less moisture, adds Dr. Solish. “For women, though, when they go through menopause, the hormone estrogen that a woman’s body would normally produce begins to fluctuate and slow down.” As for men, whose bodies produce more collagen than women, the visible signs of aging appear more gradually as their facial collagen slowly dwindles. “Men also secrete more sebum, which can create a protective barrier on the epidermis [the outer layer of the skin] and keep it hydrated and therefore looking younger longer,” says Dr. Solish.

The good news is that with the right rejuvenating dermal procedures, such as Botox, hyaluronic acid and platelet-enriched plasma, anyone can gain back a few years and have more youthful-looking skin. Here’s what you need to know.

This injectable drug freezes muscles into place to help prevent wrinkles and fine lines from forming on your face. It is most commonly injected on forehead lines, crow’s feet around the eyes, and frown lines.
The procedure: Uses teeny tiny needles, takes about five to 10 minutes to administer and can cause slight bruising or redness. “Both men and women use Botox as a preventative measure for aging now,” says Dr. Solish. “Lots are even starting in their 30s, before deep lines have a chance to set in.”
Longevity: Four to five months
Cost: $400-$600 per session

Hyaluronic acid is an injectable acid that plumps up your face, diminishing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and sunken or sagging skin. It exists naturally in your body and skin, but is depleted through aging.
The procedure: Uses multiple small needles, takes 10 minutes to administer and can cause some immediate redness. “Tiny drops are injected underneath the skin all over the face,” explains Dr. Solish. “The hyaluronic acid attracts water to bring moisture and volume back into the skin.”
Longevity: Six months
Cost: $700-$1,000 per session

In this procedure, your body’s blood plasma, which is full of healing and growth properties, is injected to improve skin texture, smooth fine lines and provide a tight and youthful appearance.
The procedure: Requires drawing your blood, removing the blood plasma and then re-injecting the PRP into your face with tiny needles that feel like 50 mosquito bites. It takes approximately 15 minutes to prepare the blood and another 10 to inject it. “The skin looks red and bumpy for about a day afterwards,” warns Dr. Solish. “So don’t make any plans for that evening.”
Longevity: Four to six months
Cost: $600-$700 per session

ADRIANA ERMTER is a Toronto-based, lifestyle-magazine pro who has travelled the globe writing about must-spritz fragrances, child poverty, beauty and grooming.

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