The skin begins to age when the body stops growing in late adolescence, but the effects of aging don't show until mid-life.
As we age, skin cells replace themselves more slowly, and the thick underlayer of the skin, the dermis, begins to thin. The network of elastin and collagen fibers that allows our skin to stretch and retract begins to unravel, and the fat layer under the dermis sags. (Elastin and collagen are proteins found in the body's connective tissue.) Sweat and oil glands slow production, and the skin can no longer retain moisture.
On the face, the thinner and less elastic skin tends to sag and fold. Permanent crease lines and crow's feet form on the brow and around the eyes. The eyebrows drop, and loose skin folds around the upper and lower eyelids. Tiny wrinkles form around the lips. The tissues of the jaw and neck droop into jowls and double chins. The skin of the neck droops into folds and wattles.
Genetic factors and lifestyle affect skin aging.
- Fair-skinned people are more susceptible to the photoaging caused by sun exposure than darker-skinned people are.
- Prolonged exposure to the sun causes skin to become stretched and leathery.
- Smoking cigarettes causes the body to produce oxygen-free radicals that damage cell membranes and age the skin.
- Air pollutants can also increase production of oxygen-free radicals.
- Rapid weight loss can cause wrinkling by reducing the cushion of fat under the skin.
- Constant stress also speeds aging of the face.
Some people consider lines and wrinkles in the face to be signs of wisdom and character. Other people, especially those who wrinkle at an early age, find these droops and sags to be a social liability that lowers their self-esteem.
For those who would like to reverse the signs of premature aging, cosmetic surgery procedures are available to restore a more youthful appearance to the face.
Nice To Know:
Unfortunately, the aging process can't be stopped or reversed, but good daily skin care can slow the process.