Wrinkles are creases or folds in the skin. They can form anywhere on the body, as the skin loses elasticity, but they are usually most noticeable on the face, especially on the forehead, around the eyes (crow’s feet), and between the nose and mouth.
Causes of Wrinkles
Wrinkles can be caused by a combination of several factors, some of which you can control, and others you can’t:
- Sun damage
- Genetic factors
- Facial expressions
You can get topical treatments, injections and cosmetic surgery treatments from your doctor or a surgeon. Options include:
Topical retinoids: These vitamin A derivatives can reduce fine lines, but not deep wrinkles. Popular types include tretinoin (Retin-A) and tazarotene (Avage).
Botulinum toxin (Botox): Once best-known for causing botulism, a potentially life-threatening food poisoning, this toxin is now used in small doses to treat several health conditions, including wrinkles. Botox diminishes wrinkles by paralyzing specific muscles or blocking certain nerves. Done correctly, the procedure is very safe, although it can cause flu-like symptoms and upset stomach. Do not use Botox if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Chemical peel: A chemical peel uses an acid to burn off the outer layer of skin. The redness can last several weeks, but the new skin that grows in is smoother than the old skin. You may need several treatments to see real improvement.
Dermabrasion and Microdermabrasion: The doctor essentially sands off the outer layer of your skin with either a rotating brush or aluminum oxide crystals. Dermabrasion causes redness and swelling that lasts several weeks, followed by a pink color that may remain for several more months. Microdermabrasion is gentler, causing less redness, and it heals faster, but you usually need regular maintenance treatments.
Laser resurfacing: There are several different types of light and laser skin resurfacing treatments, but they all essentially damage the skin to encourage new growth and collagen production. Depending on the amount of damage, healing can take from just a few days and up to several months.
Soft tissue fillers: Deep wrinkles often need to be filled in with an injectable dermal filler, like collagen or hyaluronic acid (Restylane, Juvederm). These fillers plump up the skin to smooth out the wrinkles. Injectables are temporary and need to be repeated a few times a year.
Face-lift: A face lift is a surgical procedure that removes the extra skin in your lower face and neck and tightens the underlying tissues. It usually takes several weeks for bruising and swelling to go away, but results can last up to 10 years.
At-Home wrinkle treatments
Over-the-counter wrinkle creams contain low concentrations of compounds like alpha-hydroxy acid, retinol, coenzyme Q10 and antioxidants. While these compounds can improve wrinkles, the low concentrations can give only limited results.
Treating wrinkles isn’t medically necessary, but if you find them bothersome, you have a variety of options for getting rid of them.