|The Men’s Guide to Aging Prevention and Treatment|
|Written by Dr. Nick Carr|
By Dr. Nick Carr, MD, FRCSC and Michelle Ambrosone
Quite often our chronological age does not match the way we feel on the inside. From an early age, our best defense against aging is to lead a healthy, active lifestyle and avoid the harmful effects of sunshine and cigarettes. However, it's never too late to start, so if you're not on this bandwagon yet, the time is now to climb aboard! Yet often, even if we live the right kind of lifestyle, we see changes that we are just not comfortable with. It's important to understand the options that are available to you as you move through the decades from your twenties to your thirties, forties, and beyond.
Aging Prevention for Men
No matter what your age may be, there are many lifestyle changes we can make to improve our health and enhance our quality of life. At any time of life, the following changes are necessary for optimal health.
Nourish Your Skin and Body: Fundamental to embodying a healthy lifestyle at any age is nourishing the skin and body from the inside out. Fuel your body with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables (the more colours the better), and buy or grow organic foods whenever possible. Healthy skin can be achieved by eating seafood (salmon, sardines, and other oily fish) for essential fatty acids, citrus fruits for vitamin C and bioflavonoids, nuts for vitamin E, and berries for their antioxidant properties. Replenish fluids, flush out impurities and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fresh water daily. Alcohol may also be consumed in moderation. Reach for red wine to benefit from the cardiovascular protective effects of polyphenols, but limit yourself to one or two glasses per day for men (one for women).
Protect Your Skin: One of the most important steps in anti-aging is protecting your skin with sunscreen. Ultraviolet exposure accelerates the skin's aging process, causing wrinkles, age spots, redness, dryness and skin cancer. For the most complete sun protection, apply a thick layer of broad spectrum (UVA & UVB protective) SPF 30+ every day (including cloudy days and on the ski hill), and reapply frequently – ideally every hour when outdoors. Avoid the sun from 10am to 4pm when ultraviolet rays are the strongest. Protect yourself further by wearing a hat (especially important if you are balding) and sunglasses, as ultraviolet rays can damage the eyes and cause cataracts.
Keep Active: We all know about the importance of staying active, but the benefits of exercise stretch a lot farther than weight loss and muscle building. Regular physical activity delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues, which boosts energy, improves mental acuity, decreases stress and enhances quality of sleep. It also releases endorphins, which improves mood, thereby boosting confidence and self-esteem.
Get Your Zs: It is equally important to keep the mind healthy as we get older. Sleep plays a critical role in immune function, metabolism, learning and memory, to name a few. Eight hours of good quality sleep each night can reduce stress, improve concentration and help control body weight. Human growth hormone is also released during sleep which repairs and regenerates body tissues.
Butt Out: One of the best things you can do to enhance your quality of life is quit smoking. When we inhale smoke from a cigarette, carbon monoxide from the smoke is absorbed by the blood, displacing the oxygen essential to the health of vital organs, including the skin. Each cigarette depletes vitamin C from the body, causing collagen to breakdown and form wrinkles. The physical act of smoking alone causes us to exaggerate facial expressions (pursing the lips, squinting the eyes), which also contributes to the premature development of wrinkles. Smoking also depletes the skin of water, causing dryness and a dull complexion. When you quit smoking, your heart attack risk decreases, your lung function improves, and you will have more energy to do the things you love. Ask your doctor for tips or treatments to help you quit.
Treatment Options for Men
While these health guidelines will keep you in tip-top shape as you continue to grow older, certain factors will creep up as early as your twenties, and certainly in your thirties, forties, and beyond. Below are treatment options for changing skin and body issues through the decades.
Your 20s: A common condition for males is the development of excess mammary tissue, which causes breast enlargement. For many young men this can contribute to psychological distress and low self-esteem. Gynecomastia (male breast surgery) reduces the amount of fatty and glandular tissue in the pectoral region, restoring a more masculine appearance. Although this procedure can be performed at any age, it is better to treat it as early as possible if it is contributing to a negative body image.
People of Asian descent often have a single upper eyelid without a distinctive fold. Asian Eyelid Surgery ("Double Eyelid Surgery") is a common surgery that involves creating a defined eyelid crease in the upper eyelid to balance with other facial features, while preserving a natural ethnic appearance. Eyelashes assume a more upward direction, the eyes appear larger and more oval shaped, and peripheral vision may be enhanced as less skin covers the top of the eye. Although this surgery can be performed at any age, it is most common in the 20s.
Your 30s to 40s: During this time, your previous years of unprotected sun exposure start to leave their mark, characterized by facial dyschromia (skin colour changes), fine lines and wrinkles, and a loss of firmness.
When your skin starts to look fatigued, your complexion can be rejuvenated and redness or brown spots can be removed with laser or light therapy (Fraxel or Intense Pulsed Light), chemical peels, and a proper skincare routine.
Lines and wrinkles become more apparent during this time as we lose facial volume due to the depletion of fat, bone density and muscle. As these support structures weaken, it causes the facial skin to sink and sag, which contributes to wrinkle formation. Dermal fillers such as Restylane, Perlane and Juvederm are used to re-volumize and sculpt the face by restoring fullness to depleted areas such as the cheeks, temples, under-eyes, jaw line, nasolabial folds, and chin area. Increasing in popularity is the transfer of one's own fat to restore facial volume. There is evidence that transferring fat may carry with it naturally occurring biological rejuvenating factors like stem cells.
Years of dynamic facial muscle movement eventually causes expression lines in the frown area, forehead and crow's feet, which can age a person well beyond their years. Botox can be applied to soften these areas for a smoother, more youthful appearance.
At this age, it also becomes more difficult to lose excess weight. Liposuction can be performed when fat is resistant to exercise. The most common treatment areas for men include the lower abdomen, "flanks," breasts, and the submental region of the neck (underside of the chin). Non-surgical options for body contouring include Zerona low-level laser, or Ultrashape, which uses ultrasound to disrupt fat cells.
As hair growth starts to thin and male pattern baldness is exposed, hair grafts are an option to restore hair density. Hair transplant surgeries are performed on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia. Many modern techniques are also available for harvesting hair follicles, and low-level lasers to stimulate hair growth are also gaining popularity. Consult an expert in hair replacement to determine which options are most appropriate for your condition.
Beyond Your 40s: As the fight against gravity becomes stronger, it becomes more difficult to create a youthful appearance without surgical intervention. A facelift can take years off your appearance by removing excess skin, tightening the underlying facial muscles, and re-draping the skin for a smoother facial contour. In order to maintain balance between the upper and lower facial regions, a facelift is often combined with a blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) to relieve eyelid "hooding" and remove under-eye bags, and a brow lift to raise eyebrows to a more youthful position.