While it’s true that appearance isn’t everything, most people want to look their best as they go through the various stages of life.
But by the time middle-age hits, the accumulated impact of ongoing exposure to ultra-violet light, hormonal changes and lifestyle habits such as smoking can leave our faces looking saggy and wrinkled, blotchy and speckled with brown spots. The good news is that it is never too late to improve the skin’s appearance and treatment options today are better than ever.
As a dermatologist with False Creek Healthcare in Vancouver, B.C., Dr. Christina Han offers a range of aesthetic dermatological solutions that help patients put their best face forward no matter what their age. “More men and women are empowered to take control of how they age and noninvasive treatments are becoming increasingly common,” she says. Although most of her patients are in their 40s and 50s, she’s noticed an increase in older people also wanting to treat themselves by rejuvenating their skin.
Today’s aesthetic dermatology can address everything from volume loss and wrinkles to redness and changes to pigmentation. “It’s important to tailor any treatment to the individual,” Dr. Han says. “When a patient comes in, I approach the face as a whole and discuss the concerns. Someone may have pre-cancerous lesions and not even know so this is an opportunity to check. Not everyone is worried about their wrinkles: some may be more concerned about pigmentation changes, while others want something done about saggy skin.”
Non-surgical options such as injections of neurotoxins (Botox) and dermal fillers, chemical peels and special skin care regimens can deliver positive results by making the skin look healthier and more youthful. “Often a multi-modality approach is used, depending on what the patient needs,” explains Dr. Han, adding that the results of different treatments last various times. Neurotoxins, often used to relax frown lines and crow’s feet, for example, typically last for three to six months, while dermal fillers injected to plump up hollow, sagging areas of the face last up to 18 months.
Yet, although aesthetic dermatology treatments can greatly improve the appearance of aging skin, Dr. Han stresses that the best solution of all is prevention. “It’s never too early or too late to establish a good sun or skin care regimen,” she says.
However, despite high awareness that UV rays emitted by the sun and artificial lights contribute to photo-aging and skin cancer, getting people to routinely apply sunscreen remains a challenge. In her practice, Dr. Han has heard a lot of excuses about why sunscreen isn’t used. “There is an inconvenience factor,” she says. “Some patients say they don’t like the aesthetics or the feel of the sunscreen and it takes time to put on. Others say they like tanning because it improves their mood and they get vitamin D. But avoidance of the sun is the very best prevention for aging skin.”
And sunscreen isn’t the only way to protect your skin against damaging rays. Dr. Han advises everyone going outside to seek shade where possible and to wear a broad-brimmed hat, protective clothing and sunglasses. “You can take vitamin D supplements if necessary,” she adds. “And stay away from tanning beds.”