By Laura Casewell @CasewellEditor
As we get older it’s hard to ignore the visible signs of ageing, especially when it comes to our face. Forever exposed to the elements and responsible for our endless expressions, your face rarely stops moving. Every day, squinting, furrowing your brow and even laughing contribute to the slow but sure appearance of frown and crows feet. Of course, all of this means – along with the irrepressible natural ageing process – our skin starts to show the tell-tale signs of getting older.
This all manifests itself in various ways, depending largely on the individual. Some women notice the skin under their eyes gradually starting to droop, for others it’s the skin under their chin, around the neck, which begins sagging. From our thirties onwards, it’s the lines and wrinkles around the eyes and mouth or creases across the forehead we universally notice first, according to facial aesthetic expert Dr Mark J. Hudson-Peacock, Medical Director of Canterbury Skin & Laser Clinic.
“As we get older, our skin loses its natural collagen and this in turn causes the skin to drop,” the Kent-based Consultant Dermatologist explains. “As we enter our thirties the plumpness seen in the skin during our teens and twenties starts to reduce, and by our forties and fifties it’s fairly certain you’ll have some wrinkles on your face. Of course, this is totally normal, but for some patients it’s something they want to correct.”
So what is collagen and why is it so vital to keeping your youthful looks? Collagen is a natural protein component of the skin that acts like a scaffold and the main building block for cells, tissues and organs. About a third of the protein content in your body is made up of collagen, which is found in the bones, muscles, and tissues of the organs. Collagen, keratin and elastin give the skin its strength, elasticity and structure, but ageing causes this to fade according to Dr Hudson-Peacock.
“The body naturally produces the collagen that it needs, but this production is gradually disrupted as part of the natural aging process. Women produce less collagen than men, and this collagen is lost at a rate of about 1% per year,” he explains. “This means that a woman has naturally lost almost half of the collagen from her skin by the age of fifty, leaving the skin looking less plump.”
Collagen is also greatly affected by environmental stresses such as sun exposure, nutrition, skin damage, and exposure to toxins such as pollutants, cigarette smoke and alcohol. With decreased collagen, the skin loses its natural elasticity and firmness, and fine lines, wrinkles and sagging appear.
The good news is, depending on the degree of lines, wrinkles and skin inelasticity, there are various treatments to help you knock years off your face and neck age. This for the most part depends on the extent of the signs of ageing, and whether you wish to have non-invasive treatment, or cosmetic surgery.
So if the face you see in the mirror doesn’t reflect how young you feel on the inside, fear not. Here are three of the most effective types of treatment to combat all levels of facial ageing.
Muscle Relaxing Injections and Dermal Fillers
Early signs of ageing
WHAT IS IT?
Injectable anti-ageing treatments have seen a huge surge in popularity over the last decade. A once elite treatment is now a popular staple for many men and women keen to keep wrinkles at bay. This non-surgical treatment type uses injectables to either fill out creases, for example around the mouth (e.g. dermal fillers) or reduce the muscle movement leading to less frown lines (e.g. BOTOX).
The results of injectable treatments are, although not what we’d describe as permanent, often less costly and are usually quick to perform.
While these semi-permanent treatments are non-surgical, they carry their own risks and must only be administered by a trained, skilled cosmetic nurse/doctor or plastic surgeon. You will need top-up treatments to maintain the result, although the effects some HA (hyaluronic acid) fillers, like Restylane, are enhanced by the collagen stimulation, so patients tend to need repeat sessions less frequently.
Injectable treatments require no down time away from family responsibilities or work, making them practical for busy women.
Immediate in most cases.
Affordable. Depending on your choice of aesthetics practitioner, clinic, and brand of product, you’re looking at £175-£300 per treatment.
Correcting sagging skin on face and neck
WHAT IS IT?
Once considered the ultimate form of cosmetic surgery, the facelift has seen a rival in recent years due to improved techniques. The ‘windswept’ look, often commented on due to an influx of celebrities having cosmetic surgery in the 1980s, is a thing of the past now, and with modern facelift techniques, and extended training completed by UK plastic surgeons, the results of a traditional facelift can be both natural and impressive. The aim during a surgery such as facelifting is to ensure the patient looks fresher, leaving family and friends asking what the secret is to your youthful looks, rather than asking if you’ve had surgery.
This type of cosmetic surgery has improved vastly in the last 10-15 years, and the results are long-lasting and unique to the patient. There are also various types of facelift surgery, including mini-lifts, which can be tailored to your specific needs.
This is an invasive surgery, and requires general aesthetic and aftercare. Being a surgical procedure, it carries more health risks than the other non-invasive methods. It also costs more than any other type of facial rejuvenation treatment.
You will need to book healing time into your life and schedule, often up to three weeks. Recovery can involve some discomfort and bruising, but this healing process can be managed with painkillers.
Fairly instant, although you need to wait a few weeks for the swelling to subside and bruising to go down to see the full result.
Get saving. Facelifts generally cost between £4,000 and £8,000.
Radiofrequency Skin Tightening
Firming-up the face
WHAT IS IT?
You may have read about RF treatments in the press recently, as the demand for non-surgical skin tightening procedures continues to grow year on year. Many patients are opting to try radiofrequency treatments like the award-winning Exilis Elite, which uses heat energy (RF) to tighten the skin and improve the production of new collagen. It’s effective and the most modern approach to anti-ageing in the UK today. The Exilis Elite has changed many doctors practices and allows them to help more patients who are unsuitable for surgical options.
Ideal for those who don’t feel ready for facelift surgery, radio frequency treatments can be a great middle-ground for patients who are looking to reduce wrinkles and enjoy plumper, firmer skin. It’s pain-free, requires zero down time and results can be seen after a single treatment, although a course is usually recommended. It can also help reduce sagging skin on and around the neck.
The treatment is not permanent and you may well need follow-up sessions to maintain the effects. As it’s non-surgical, the results are not as striking as traditional cosmetic surgery (e.g. neck lift, facelift, blepharoplasty) so it may not be as effective on patients with severe sagging.
Besides some immediate redness to the treatment area, treatments like this require minimal downtime, and in most cases you can be back at the office within the hour.
In many cases results are seen after one treatment, but it’s recommended patients allow six weeks for the full effect to be seen.
Average. A skin tightening treatment with Exilis Elite costs approximately £300 per session, with a course of four usually suggested.