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Wrinkles

We've all heard the clichés: wrinkles are a roadmap of your life. However, many of us would rather not be reminded of the distance we've travelled. What can you do? First, understand what causes wrinkles. Then, if you still want to reduce wrinkles, explore your options for treatment.

What causes wrinkles?

The following factors are the most significant:

Ageing

Wrinkles are a by-product of the ageing process. With age, skin cells divide more slowly, and the inner layer, called the dermis, begins to thin. The network of elastin (the protein which causes skin to stretch) and collagen fibres (the major structural proteins in the skin), which support the outer layer, loosen and unravel, causing depressions on the surface. With ageing, skin also loses its elasticity, is less able to retain moisture, oil-secreting glands are less efficient and the skin is slower to heal. All of these contribute to the development of wrinkles.

Facial muscle contractions

Lines between the eyebrows, frown lines, and lines jutting from the corner of the eyes, crow’s feet, are believed to develop because of small muscle contractions. Smiling, frowning, squinting and other habitual facial expressions cause these wrinkles to become more prominent. Over time, the expressions coupled with gravity contribute to the formation of jowls and drooping eyelids.

Sun damage

Exposure to ultraviolet radiation (too much sun) can result in premature ageing of skin. Premature ageing of the skin is called photoageing. The ultraviolet sunrays that cause photoageing damage collagen fibres and cause the excessive production of abnormal elastin. When ultraviolet light damages skin tissue, an enzyme called metalloproteinase is produced. This enzyme creates and reforms collagen. During the process, however, some healthy collagen fibres are damaged, resulting in a disorganised formation of fibres called solar scars. Wrinkles develop when the rebuilding process occurs over and over.

Smoking

Healthy skin perpetually regenerates. While old collagen is broken down and removed new collagen is produced. Researchers have found that smoke causes a marked reduction in the production of new collagen. A lack of new collagen results in the development of wrinkles.

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