Picture of wrinkles on face


Wrinkles are a normal ageing process, but can be made worse by other causes…… 

What are wrinkles?

Wrinkles are a common sign of ageing as the skin becomes drier, thinner and less elastic, and are known by healthcare professionals as ‘rhytids’. They are more common on sun-exposed parts such as the face, hands and neck.

Wrinkles may be quite fine in which case they are often linked to sunlight, or deep wrinkles that are often linked to frowning. These frown lines are creases in the skin caused by the contraction of the underlying muscles.

What causes wrinkles?

Ageing is a major factor, as the skin becomes less elastic and thinner. Decreased production of natural oils will make the skin seem dry and wrinkled, and loss of fat under the skin will make it look saggier and more prone to wrinkles.

Sun exposure (UV light) is also a major factor that increases wrinkles, especially in fair-skinned people. Other causes include smoking, pollutants and genetics. Wrinkles may also be more noticeable when you are tired, stressed, dehydrated, or have a poor diet.

What is the best way to prevent wrinkles?

Prevention of wrinkles can be achieved to some degree, but you can’t avoid factors such as ageing or genetics. Some ways that can really help include:

Avoid too much sun exposure – try to avoid getting burnt or tanned as this is a sign of skin damage. Using sunscreen will also limit the amount of UV that your skin is exposed to, and the American Academy of Dermatology recommends a sunscreen with SPF of 30 or more

Use moisturizers – these won’t help with deep frown lines, but will help make the skin look brighter and fresher, and help mask tiny lines and wrinkles

Do not smoke – the best approach is to never smoke, but if you’ve already started to smoke then it’s never too late to quit and prevent more wrinkles and lines forming in the future

Keep hydrated – drinking plenty of water through the day will help keep you hydrated and so improve your skin appearance and overall well-being 

Eat healthily – the link between nutrition and wrinkles is not clear, but eating healthily will improve your general health and so may lead to healthier and better appearing skin

What is the best wrinkle treatment?

Wrinkle treatment is usually with medications (including creams), or using procedures such as surgery.

• General wrinkle creams – there are a huge number of wrinkle creams available to buy without prescription, although the results can be limited as they often have less active ingredients than prescription creams. Ingredients in these creams include Retinol, antioxidants and peptides.

Retinoids – these are derived from Vitamin A, and include retinol, retinaldehyde, adapalene, tretinoin (Retin-A, Renova) and tazarotene (Avage, Tazorac). They can reduce fine wrinkles and skin roughness. Retinoids can make your skin very sensitive to the sun, so you will usually need to use sunscreen while using them

Microdermabrasion – this technique can treat fine wrinkles by removing a fine layer of the top surface of the skin, but may need a few treatments to see results. Even so, microdermabrasion may only produce moderate results

Dermabrasion –  a rotating brush is used to ‘sand’ down the outer layer of skin. The skin then heals and, as it does, tightens with less wrinkles and lines. Dermabrasion can be effective for fine lines and wrinkles, but is used less now that laser treatment is more widely available (see below)

Chemical peels – an acid is applied to the face which burns the top layer of skin. This then heals with a fresher, tighter look to the skin. This can also reduce wrinkles and age spots, but often depends on the strength of the acid used. A stronger acid can give more effective results, but will tend to have higher risks (such as scarring) and longer lasting redness of the face. 

Laser treatment – there are devices that use radiofrequency to tighten the skin and reduce wrinkles, although results can vary. Laser treatment with the carbon dioxide laser can be effective at fine wrinkle treatment, and even help improve coarser wrinkles, lines and age spots. A type of carbon dioxide laser called the ‘fractional’ laser can also help to improve and tighten the deeper skin (the dermis). The skin after laser treatment can vary from being a little red for a few days, through to being quite raw for a week or two, depending on how deep the treatment has gone (a deeper treatment is used for deeper coarser wrinkles). 

Botox – Botox works by stopping muscles contracting. When injected into the small muscles around the eye, eyebrow, mouth or forehead, the muscles don’t contract as well, so wrinkles are improved (for example ‘crow’s feet’ wrinkles around the eye). The Botox usually lasts for around 3-4 months. Read more about Botox here

Fillers – fillers are generally useful for deeper wrinkles. There are a number of different fillers, including hyaluronic acid (Restylane, Juvaderm etc) and fat (your fat is taken from one area of you such as your tummy, and injected into the deep lines)

Face lift – this surgical procedure can tighten the face and neck areas, improving wrinkles and giving a younger look to the face. It can also be combined with peels or laser treatment, to give an even greater impact. Generally, a face lift is used when one or more of the above treatments will not help improve your wrinkles, or when a greater, more immediate change is wanted

This information is for general information only. If you have any concerns about your health or are considering any treatments, you should seek advice from a healthcare specialist

Other Skincare articles

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Read about the various types of peel & how they are done