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November 4, 2009 > Fighting Back Against the Effects of Aging

Fighting Back Against the Effects of Aging

Learn how facial skin ages and the risks and benefits of skin products and treatments at upcoming seminar

Every woman knows that time, aging, gravity, sun exposure and the "wear and tear" of everyday life can lead to changes in your face - crow's feet, smile lines and worry lines, hollow cheeks, and saggy jowls.

"As we age, we lose fat from our cheeks and jowls and some of the muscle tone in our faces," says Dr. Aleda Jacobs, a dermatologist at Washington Hospital. "Basically, gravity takes over, and things start to sag. We also develop fine lines and wrinkles as a result of cumulative sun exposure and other factors such as smoking or excess alcohol consumption."

So what steps can you take to avoid - or even reverse - some of the "ravages of age" without resorting to plastic surgery?

"Some studies note that up to 80 percent of the sun damage to our skin is done by the time we reach age 18, but that means we can still control 20 percent - and encourage our children to always use sunscreen and avoid tanning beds," Dr. Jacobs says. "Even young people can benefit from a good moisturizing sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

"Other lifestyle changes that can help you maintain a younger-looking face include getting plenty of exercise, eating a diet that is rich in anti-oxidants and limiting your consumption of alcohol," she adds. "Plus, if you smoke, kicking that habit will not only help you 'save face,' it also will help you avoid conditions far worse than wrinkles."

Today, thanks to scientific advances in skin care and dermatology, women (and men) also can reverse some of the effects of aging.

"I'm sure that nearly everyone these days has heard of Botox," Dr. Jacobs says. "We use Botox to treat 'dynamic' lines that result from muscle movements in the face, including crow's feet and wrinkles in the forehead and between the eyebrows. Botox relaxes the muscles; it does not paralyze them. Still, it is important to have Botox injections performed by a qualified medical professional such as a board-certified dermatologist, rather than in a home or spa setting where treatment for side effects is not available."

Certain people should not receive Botox injections, including those who have a rare condition known as myasthenia gravis - a form of muscle deterioration. People with "hooded" eyelids are also poor candidates for Botox, since it can cause their eyelids to droop.

For "static" facial lines that develop as a result of losing volume in the fatty layer under the skin - including smile lines, hollow cheeks and thinning lips - injections of "fillers" can build up the volume in those spaces. Because fillers are used to add volume to the face, rather than to relax specific muscles, there potentially may be more injection sites, requiring a longer appointment time than with Botox. Filler medications fall into two basic categories:
* Hylauronic acid (a natural substance produced by the body), including Restylane, Perlane and Juvederm.
* Non-hylauronic acids, including Radiesse and Evolence.

"A number of other new products to reduce the signs of aging are now available over the counter," Dr. Jacobs notes. "For example, products containing retinoic acid or alpha hydroxy acids can help to gently exfoliate the skin and reverse minor cellular changes caused by sun exposure."

Other treatments for certain skin conditions related to aging can also make a dramatic difference. "We can perform laser treatments to treat spider veins and brown 'age spots' on the face," Dr. Jacob explains. "Getting rid of spider veins and age spots sometimes requires a series of three or four treatments, depending on the depth of the problem, but the results are usually impressive and long-lasting."

To learn more about fighting the facial signs of aging, women are invited to bring their own lunch and attend a special "Lunch and Learn" session with Dr. Jacobs at the Washington Women's Center. The lecture, "Analysis of the Aging Face," is scheduled for Thursday, November 12 from noon to 1 p.m. The Women's Center is located at 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont, across the street from Washington Hospital.

To register for the lecture, call (800) 963-7070 or visit To learn more about the monthly "Lunch and Learn" lectures or other services available at the Washington Women's Center, call (510) 608-1301. Or you can visit and click on the link for Women's Health under "Programs and Services."

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