September Is Healthy Aging Month: Feeling Youthful, Inside and Outside
September has been dubbed Healthy Aging Month, and our staff at Jefferson Plastic Surgery has some tips you can use to keep you feeling younger, even as you head into your senior years.
Made in the Shade
While we are being all nostalgic for our youth, we probably also remember long, lazy summer days spent sunbathing for hours in order to get that perfect golden tan. If we put on any suntan lotion at all, it was meant to help deepen our tans, not protect us against sunburn.
Many sun blockers came with a low sun protection factor (SPF), and we often forgot to reapply them after a dip into the swimming pool or ocean.
Unfortunately, you may now be seeing the detrimental effects of all those carefree summer days of your youth. Excessive exposure to ultraviolet A (UVA) waves in sunlight can prematurely age your skin by giving it a tough, leathery appearance.
This occurs through the loss of collagen, which is a protein that the body develops to keep the skin looking firm and full. While the body will lose collagen due to the natural effects of aging, sun exposure can accelerate this process, leaving you with fine lines, wrinkles, and sun spots, particularly on your face.
Our staff recommends a high-quality sunscreen, with a high SPF. This should be applied any time that you are out in direct sunlight for more than 15 minutes and reapplied after you go swimming. A wide-brimmed hat and large, wrap-around sunglasses will also help protect your face.
No (Cigarette) Butts about It!
Smoking can also be a factor in premature aging of the skin, even the new “vape-ing” trend. Both tobacco and vape smoke can dry out your facial and chest skin every time that you exhale out your nose.
It can even dry out the delicate skin around the outer corner of your eyes, leading to crow’s feet. Furthermore, the skin around your lips will show fine lines and wrinkles, known as smoker’s mouth.
Smoking can also lead to early collagen loss, which will further speed the aging process. Combine all of this with the well-researched links between smoking and lung cancer and emphysema, and there’s a strong case for quitting smoking to improve your longevity.
Your first step toward quitting smoking should be talking to your primary care doctor about a smoking cessation program. This may include nicotine-patch or gum step-down treatment, psychotherapy counseling, or a combination of the two.
A good quality moisturizer can help rehydrate your skin that has been dried out by tobacco or vape smoke. Apply it at night and after your bath or shower.
As mentioned previously, collagen loss is part of the natural aging process. However, this does not mean that you must accept it. Our surgeons can perform a number of surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures to help minimize the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and discoloration on your face. These can range from dermal injections, to chemical peels, to full facelift procedures.
While you may not be able to go back in time to be a flower child again, there are some steps that can allow you to keep the youthful look you had at that time, while also reversing the damaging effects of aging. Healthy Aging Month may be an excellent time to look at what you can do to recapture your youth.