Facial aging is a combination of changes in skin texture, laxity/descent of soft tissues and loss of facial volume. Our anatomy, lifestyle habits and environmental factors all have a significant impact on the face from the forehead to the neck. If one zone is addressed without taking the others into consideration, it leads to less than optimal results. One zone of the face should harmoniously interact with the other to achieve a youthful appearance. Each patient’s face should be evaluated holistically.
What can you do to prevent facial aging?
Prevention of facial aging is best achieved using a combination of common sense approaches. Maintaining your weight through regular exercise and a healthy diet prevents the effects of large changes in weight on your facial volume and skin. Avoiding tobacco products will reduce the breakdown of elastin and collagen fibers of the skin. Sun avoidance and daily protection with an SPF 30 sunscreen will also reduce the risk of sun spots, sun induced skin deterioration, and your long term risks of skin cancer. Stress is ever present in our lives and is very deleterious to our overall health well as our appearance. Managing stress effectively with exercise and contemplative relaxation techniques can be very beneficial. Regular use of clinically active skin care can dramatically reduce the signs of aging. The most important components of a good skin care regimen include sunscreen, Vitamin A derivative creams, alpha-hydroxy acids, and antioxidants like Vitamin C. These products have the strongest level of clinical evidence to support their use.
Non-Surgical treatments available to you.
If preventive measures are no longer effective in reducing the visible signs of aging, then you may want to consider some of the therapeutic options currently available. Fine lines, pore size, and hyperpigmentation can be effectively treated with various chemical peels with varying downtimes. Pore size and acne scarring can be improved with a series of micro-needling treatments. Broad Band Light treatments are very effective for treating red and brown spots of the face and stimulating collagen production to achieve skin rejuvenation over the long term with no down-time. There are a plethora of lasers on the market today that improve skin tone and texture through full resurfacing or fractional resurfacing. These laser treatments are usually less aggressive than lasers of the past so multiple treatments are usually required to achieve noticeable improvement. More aggressive laser treatments yield faster results at the expense of longer downtime. Newer technologies such as radio-frequency devices and focused ultrasound technologies are emerging as the most effective way to tighten facial skin without surgery. When combined with facial fillers and muscle relaxing injections results can be quite impressive.
How do you define success?
As unique as we all are, the aforementioned treatments require some customization. Physical findings, recovery requirements and cost considerations are all taken into account when developing a treatment plan to meet your objectives. Better results are obtained if more than one modality is combined. Being open to multiple treatments with shorter downtime over an extended period is also helpful in achieving significant improvement. It is important to acknowledge that no one treatment is a silver bullet for this multi-factorial condition. Most patients find this approach quite acceptable and fit it into their schedules without difficulty. Patients have been very satisfied with this approach and are pleased with how many compliments they get about their refreshed appearance.
Robert F. Centeno M.D., M.B.A., F.A.C.S.,
Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, Fairfax & Manassas, VA
George Bitar, MD, FACS is an award-winning, board-certified cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgeon, the Founder and Medical Director of Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute in Virginia. He specializes in the latest surgical and minimally invasive techniques to scar management and reduction. Dr. Bitar is involved in groundbreaking research and education in plastic surgery and has authored numerous articles, abstracts, and chapters.