By Laura Segall, PhD
INTERVIEW WITH DR. LISA KELLETT, MD FRCP(C) DABD, DIRECTOR OF THE DLK ON AVENUE DERMATOLOGY CLINIC, TORONTO, ONTARIO
Aging is inevitable, but who says it has to show? We asked Dr. Kellett for advice:
Dr. Kellett, what causes wrinkles?
There are several causes, including aging, sun exposure, and smoking. Sun exposure damages the skin by weakening the connective tissue and therefore reducing its strength and elasticity. Cigarette smoke decreases blood flow to the skin, causing tissue damage. Although you can’t stop time, you can stop smoking and use proper sun protection.
Is there anything that can be done once you already have wrinkles?
Actually, there are now several options available to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. The simplest way to hide those lines is to use a good camouflage makeup, which is available at most drugstores. Another, often overlooked product is a simple moisturizer. Well hydrated skin will look better, making fine lines less noticeable.
What about the topical treatments we often see advertised?
The mainstay for the topical treatment of wrinkles is retinoids or vitamin A derivatives. These antioxidants trap the molecules that damage skin and cause wrinkles. In fact, they are the only available anti-wrinkle treatment that can back their claims with scientific research. Retinoids increase cell turnover in the deeper layers of the skin, and replace the dryer, outer layer of the epidermis with newer, smoother-looking skin. Creams containing retinol 1% are available over-the counter and will give moderate results with consistent use. The more potent retinoid, tretinoin 0.1%, is only available by prescription. High doses of vitamin A can cause birth defects. Hence, these products should not be used by women who are pregnant or may become pregnant.
What can a dermatologist do?
A common treatment available in a dermatologist’s office is erbium laser resurfacing. This treatment vaporizes superficial damaged skin cells, removes fine lines and improves the appearance of deeper wrinkles. This is a mild laser treatment with a quick recovery (four to seven days). However, several treatments may be needed and it
generally takes a few weeks for the results to become apparent.