The skin is the largest organ of the body. Its main physiological functions include protection, receiving sensory information from the external environment, and helping to regulate our temperature. Of course, our skin means much more to us than all those basic functions. Our skin colour connects us to our culture. The skin on our face is closely connected to the way in which we feel about ourselves, and aging skin can be a big source of unhappiness with our appearance.
While the health of our skin may have some genetic component, our lifestyle and environment play a larger role with respect to the way our skin ages. Smoking, too much alcohol, sun exposure, poor diet, poor hydration – this all directly influences our skin. Certain diseases like diabetes can also prematurely age the skin. But one of the biggest influences on the tone, texture and youthful appearance of our skin is oxidation, and in my clientele, exposure to chemotherapy and radiation is a big source of this oxidation.
The beauty industry has certainly got on the oxidation bandwagon, as most anti-aging products promise to deliver anti-oxidant rich creams and serums that will stop aging, loaded with vitamin C, vitamin E, green tea, and many more. Oxidative stress as a cause of accelerated skin aging has aroused the interest of many industries.
The skin has a built-in defence system against oxidation, such as glutathione and vitamin E. But some hormones also serve as antioxidants, such as estrogen, and therefore it is not surprising that when women go through menopause or take anti-estrogen drugs such as Tamoxifen, they complain of rapidly, prematurely aging skin. Therefore, when a women undergoes the natural aging process, but also is exposed to chemotherapy, radiation and other anti-cancer drugs that lower estrogen, the skin can really take a beating.
Before you start to lose hope, let’s take a look at a few natural facial treatments as well as supplements that have been shown in studies to help restore the youthful appearance of the skin.
Mesotherapy is all the rage these days! Mesotherapy was first pioneered in Europe in 1952, and now over 15,000 practitioners across Europe use mesotherapy for fat loss, hair regrowth and other aesthetic purposes. Mesotherapy is the use of vitamins and amino acids that are injected into the mesoderm, or middle layer of the skin, with very fine needles. It stimulates the mesoderm and is rejuvenating. It is great at reducing the appearance of wrinkles, pigmentation, and sagging skin. It stimulates the production of collagen and elastin, as well as blocks oxidation. Mesotherapy can also help with hair regrowth following chemotherapy.
Facial acupuncture is similar to regular acupuncture, but the needles are much smaller, and the needles have a very shallow insertion. Acupuncture needles are inserted into wrinkles and other areas of concern. This treatment is surprisingly effective for improving fine lines, tone, texture, hydration and leaves your skin glowing!
If lifting weights can improve the muscle tone of your body, then it makes perfect sense that facial exercises will improve the tone of the muscles of the face. A first of its kind study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Dermatology gave 27 women between the ages of 40 and 65 face exercises to perform daily for 8 weeks, and then every other day for another 12 weeks. They measured the fullness of the skin and the depth of the wrinkles and found that “face yoga” can improve the signs of aging. Read the study here! If you are interested in learning how to perform these exercises, come on in to the clinic.
Oral collagen supplements are also very popular lately, and do in fact have some pretty magical properties. Oral collagen does in fact increase collagen production in the skin, and also increases something called glycosaminoglycans, or GAGs, which help to plump the skin. Several randomized clinical trials in humans have found that after only 4 weeks of supplementation, dry skin, skin elastin and collagen density had improved in elderly women. Women also reported that they were happier with the appearance of their skin.
There are a number of products on the market that promise to hold the key to your youth! Some are likely to be much better than others, so if you have any questions about your skin care products, or what other supplements you may want to take, I am happy to provide consultations for these matters.
~ Dr. Jessa