We’re a nation obsessed with ageing and looking younger, but do we actually know why our facial skin ages, how and what we really can do about it?
“Facial aging is a complex matter and needs a medical diagnosis,” says Cosmetic Surgeon and skin expert Dr Jonquille Chantrey “It is caused by the effects of time combined with influencing factors such as genetics, medical disease, weight fluctuations, diet, hormonal changes, smoking, sun damage and skin type.”
We put your questions to her.
Q. So what exactly causes ageing?
A. “The bone, fat, muscle and skin all change. As we age, we lose density from our bones and the facial skeleton is no different. This loss of support means the overlying soft tissues start to sag and drop.
“The fat compartments gradually reduce in structure, leading to a tired appearance, dark circles, heavy folds around the eyes and nose to mouth lines. We gain fat in the lower face as we age which contributes to jowls and loss of the jawline.
“The muscles that drag the face downwards can become more tense and this leads to surface wrinkles through repeated expression such as frowning and pouting.
“Certain muscles around the neckline can also cause significant changes in the neck producing sagginess and bands that can make someone appear older than they are. Finally of course, the skin loses collagen and elastin – the key components that keep skin firm, smooth and elastic. This loss produces lines, increased pore size, skin folds and a generalised loss of tone.”
Takeaway tip: Don’t focus on wrinkles. These are not that important in the anti-aging process.
Q. I seem to have suddenly aged. Can that happen?
A. “Absolutely. Aging is a continuous process but it has been proven that we also age in spurts. These accelerated periods can be worsened further by illness, stress and weight loss. So when people wake up one day after intense stress, it’s not uncommon to look as though they’ve aged “overnight”.”
Takeaway tip: Stress can age you, and seemingly overnight
Q. How does the menopause affect how I look?
A. “Huge changes occur around the menopause due to hormonal fluctuations that have a direct effect on skin factors such as reduced hydration, smoothness and elasticity. Common complaints around this time are skin dehydration, dull texture and an increase in fine lines around the eyes and lips.”
Takeaway tip: Drink lots of water and be strict with your skincare.
Q. I eat healthily, train regularly and feel energised, yet I still look tired. Why?
A. “Often, when following diet and training regimes there can be fat loss, which preferentially occurs from the face. This directly leads to loss of support of the lower eyelid and cheek causing a tired or gaunt appearance.
“If weight is increased, the fat doesn’t usually return to those key areas but rather the lower face, further contributing to more sagging.”
Takeaway tip: Eat lots of healthy fruit and vegetables and stay healthy.
Q. When is the best time to consider treatment?
A. “Often, patients put off treatment through fear of looking different or are unsure of where to go or which to treat. Many also want to wait until they’ve lost weight or need an incentive.
“I never advocate unnecessary treatment, but simple measures like the right medical skincare for your skin type can make a difference with very little risk.”
Takeaway tip: If you start early with prevention, less work will be needed to correct and maintain in future.
Q. If I start, won’t I look worse if I stop?
A. “No. If the correct techniques have been used, you’ll actually look better once it wears off than if you had never had treatment. We use temporary products because we need to adapt specifically to your facial changes throughout the years. Permanent measures can make you look strange as the tissues continue to age around the permanent interventions causing a mismatch at best.”
Takeaway tip: Facial aging can now be controlled and if caught early, even delayed.
What to do look for in a good practitioner:
Always seek the advice of a medical doctor that has the following attributes:
– Qualified with a strong track record in your area of concern and who will be contactable if something goes wrong.
– Seek a doctor who listens to your concerns and gives you information rather than uses intimidation or charm to persuade you into treatment.
– Research your doctor thoroughly. Don’t just be tempted by offers, popularity on social media or where the rest of your social group goes.
– If you don’t feel comfortable in the consultation, walk away and reflect before proceeding with treatment
Miss Jonquille Chantrey; founder of Expert Aesthetics; is a Cosmetic Surgeon and skincare specialist with over 14 years’ extensive experience in aesthetics, plastic and cosmetic surgery, microsurgery, trauma and facial surgery, burns reconstruction and more.