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Anti-Aging Treatments: Are They Worth the Big Bucks?
Written by Michelle Walker   

Effective tools to treat the signs of aging.

woman's face with facial mask on

There’s a lot of talk these days about anti-aging. What was the hot buzz word of five years ago is now getting a bad reputation for being insensitive. But isn’t aging natural and inevitable? The truth is: the term “anti-aging” is missing an important little disclaimer; it should really be called “Anti-the-signs-of-Aging.” The fact is, we are all aging, and to be aging as youthfully as possible is directly related to the choices we make and the lifestyle we live. What we look for in anti-aging treatments is not to deny that we are aging, but to fight the signs of its appearance, primarily what appears on the surface of our skin.

Simply put, aging of the skin is caused by a breakdown in the skin’s support structures. As we age, our skin slows down the production of collagen, elastin fibers and glycosaminoglycans (to name a few). It slows the production of fibroblast cells (creators of all the support structures), and it decreases the production of the Natural Moisturizing Factors (NMFs) or “skin plumpers” like hyaluronic acid (a wonderful little hydration factor that holds 1,000 times its weight in water). It slows skin cell turnover, increasing build-up on the surface and causing textural concerns, while accumulating melanin on the surface in the form of brown spots or pigmentation. Approximately 20 percent of skin aging is caused by internal (or intrinsic) factors (i.e., genetics), and the overwhelming majority is caused by external (or extrinsic) factors – like forgetting to apply your sunscreen. These two aging factors are not mutually exclusive; if you are affected by one, you are also affected by the other... and both are impacted by how you care for your skin.

So how can we fight all these internal and external aging “helpers”? The best way to help treat the skin is to intentionally engage the skin’s natural healing response. I know what you’re thinking – how does that make sense? The fact is, the skin is an amazing healer. When your skin sustains an injury, it jumps into action to repair itself. This healing process creates a boost in the production of collagen, elastin, hydration and skin cell renewal – all of the processes that slow down as we age! The latest anti-aging treatments work by creating small, targeted and controlled “injuries” to the skin so that the skin initiates its natural healing phenomena. The following treatments follow this concept:

  • IPL or Intense Pulsed Light treatments are ideal for helping to clear an uneven skin tone that has brown spots or pigmentation and redness in the form of broken capillaries. The IPL emits light energy that is absorbed by the targets in the skin (hemoglobin for capillaries and melanin for pigmentation). This absorption damages the structures, which are then cleared from the skin’s surface by the body as it heals itself.
  • Peels work on the surface (epidermis) of the skin, and are one of the easiest and best ways to smooth rough surface texture and stimulate (and regulate!) skin cell renewal. As an added bonus, peels naturally increase the production of collagen, elastin fibers, glycosaminoglycans and hydration levels in the skin.
  • Fractional Laser Resurfacing is one of the most popular ways to help treat structural concerns in the skin such as wrinkles, fine lines, scarring and, in some cases, texture and pore size, all with minimal downtime. This “colour blind” technology uses heat energy that passes by the epidermis to cause damage in the deeper dermal layer of the skin, boosting the production of collagen, elastin and fibroblast activity.
  • Thermage/RF Technology are treatments that deeply heat the support structure in the dermis and underlying fat layer of the skin, causing a thermal injury that results in a contouring and tightening of the skin’s surface. This deep heating can result in a reduction of fine lines and wrinkles and an increase in the skin’s firmness.

No matter what method you choose to fight the signs of aging, the success of your skin treatment program is based on two simple rules. One: you need to do your homework before choosing your facility (experienced, properly trained practitioners are key). Two: you must have realistic expectations about your treatment, it’s outcome, and your role in its success. The best results will ultimately be obtained by combining several methods in a course of treatments including facials and skin care, and most importantly, your participation. Anti-aging skin treatments are truly an investment of time, energy and resources... but can ultimately be well worth the efforts.


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