By Alix Fuller
A.F.: Is the skin around the eyes different from other facial skin?
Dr. Lisa Kellett: The skin in the eye area is second only to genital skin in terms of thinness. Compared to other areas it has a very small dermal (deeper layer of skin) volume. This is important because the dermis contains collagen, elastin, hyaluronic acid and other substances which act as the scaffolding of the skin. If there is less supporting structure then this area will age more quickly.
A.F.: How does this affect the eye area in terms of visible signs of aging?
Dr. Lisa Kellett: Since it’s so thin and has such a small dermal volume, the skin in this area tends to age more quickly with fine lines and decreased elasticity. This is even seen in some patients in their twenties!
A.F.: Is the theory that contracting the muscles around our eyes every time we laugh, squint, smile or frown leads to premature wrinkling a viable one?
Dr. Lisa Kellett: There are basically two types of wrinkles: expressive and static. Expressive wrinkles are seen as “crow’s feet” at the corners of the eyes and become visible when smiling. Static wrinkles are often seen under the lower eyelid and are accentuated when smiling, but are also present at rest. If you tend to express yourself by smiling and this contracts the muscles around your eyes then with time these wrinkles will become more pronounced. With that being said, 90% of skin aging is secondary to sun damage which actually causes a breakdown of collagen and elastin in the skin. This breakdown is NOT a result of smiling but rather the sun!
A.F.: What other causes of wrinkles, crow’s feet and under-eye puffiness are there?
Dr. Lisa Kellett: As above, the three most common causes are sun, sun and sun! Other causes are trauma to the eye area (rubbing and pulling), a history of atopy (also know as allergies), genetics (look at your mother), fluid retention and thyroid disease.
A.F.: Why should someone use an eye cream as opposed to a regular facial moisturizer?
Dr. Lisa Kellett: In general there are less sebaceous (oil) glands in this area and thus a richer cream can be used here. I caution against using one that is too rich however as it can cause milia, small white bumps around the eyes.
A.F.: At what age should someone begin using an eye cream?
Dr. Lisa Kellett: Usually by 30 an eye cream should be applied nightly.
A.F.: What lifestyle changes can be made to help prevent (or postpone) signs of aging in the eye area?
Dr. Lisa Kellett: Use sun block and sunglasses to protect the eye area year round. Excessive alcohol and salt intake can cause fluid retention, so cut back. Limit trauma to the eye area… no tugging, rubbing, pulling. Use appropriate eye area products.