Turning Back the Hands of Time

When you shop for an anti-aging cream at your department store's cosmetic counter or at a drug store, are you confused about the number of choices? Well, you are not alone. In a recent survey conducted by the American Academy of Dermatology, 94 per cent of the 2,079 American women surveyed are confused about over the counter and prescription anti-aging products as well as anti-aging treatments available at their doctor's office.

"The best place for consumers to find answers to their questions about aging skin is from their dermatologist, since we are the experts in the diagnosis and medical, surgical and cosmetic treatment of aging skin," says dermatologist Arielle N.B. Kauvar, MD, Clinical Associate Professor of Dermatology, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY. "Potentially, women could save time, money and confusion by simply seeking out the advice of a dermatologist, rather than guessing what might work for them."

The survey also found that over 69 percent of women are concerned by the visible signs of aging, such as fine lines, wrinkles, and dryness, 47 percent want to improve the look of the skin around their eyes , and 18 percent want to improve the look of the skin around their mouth.

Over-the-Counter Anti-aging Products

"An alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) product can also help remove the dead outer layers of skin, leaving the face with a fresh, younger appearancek, says Dr. Kauvar. "AHAs are particularly beneficial for wrinkles around the mouth and eyes, which are two areas of the face where women would like to see the most improvement."

You should also look for over-the-counter topical products with the anti-oxidants, vitamins C & E.

"But the most important thing consumers can do to prevent aging skin and further damage is to protect themselves from the sun," recommended Dr. Kauvar. "Consumers should wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays from the sun, and has a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or higher."

Anti-aging Products by Prescription

To reverse the signs of aging consider using retinoids, a vitamin A cream that can help reduce fine lines, wrinkles and age spots.

"As long as patients have realistic expectations of the kind of improvements they can achieve, both over-the-counter or prescription treatments remain a valuable tool in the treatment of aging skin," remarked Dr. Kauvar.

Cosmetic Treatments

Are you also confused by treatments offered by your dermatologist? More than 78 percent of the women surveyed wanted to know how long the anti-aging benefits would last and how invasive the treatments are.

Non-ablative laser skin rejuvenation plumps up skin when a laser or light source is absorbed by the water in the skin cells. Another treatment is microdermabrasion, where crystals of aluminum oxide on the skin are removed with a vacuum line, thus removing the outer layers of the skin. Chemical peels refer to a chemical solution placed on the face to remove the outer, dead layer of skin, leaving new skin underneath.

You may wish to try injectible fillers and botulinum toxin to reverse the signs of aging. injectibe fillers are injected in the skin to reduce winkles, furrows and hollows in the face. Botulinum toxin is injected to relax the muscles to soften frown lines, crow's feet and other wrinkles.

"All of these options are perfect for people with busy lifestyles who do not want the inconvenience of a long recovery," said Dr. Kauvar. "Each of these procedures can often be performed in under an hour, require very little or no downtime, and allow healing to occur rapidly. Most important of all is that there is minimal discomfort to patients during these procedures."

Dr. Kauvar encourages patients who are considering a cosmetic treatment to ask their physician questions about:

  • Doctor's credentials and training

  • Expected results

  • Recovery time

  • Risks

  • Cost

About The Author

Diana Clarke is a teacher, freelance writer and founder of The Sun and Your Skin, a website on life and light at http://www.yourskinandsun.com.

[email protected]

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