If there’s one thing in this unpredictable world that we know to be true, it’s that the aging process, while different for everyone, leaves no man or woman behind. Eventually, we all look in the mirror and have the “What is this?!” moment; we notice newly grayed roots or beards, the start (or progression) of wrinkled or sagging skin, or we realize that somehow, overnight, we look like our parents.
In his 2013 paper, “When is ‘Too Early’ Too Early to Start Cosmetic Procedures”, Boston dermatologist Dr. Kenneth A. Arndt explores how introducing cosmetic fillers, light and laser treatments, and neuromodulators can help keep skin smooth and healthy, and combat wrinkles and fine lines that develop as the result of repeated folding and use of facial muscles. His answer to the question, “What’s ‘too early’?” It’s rarely ever too early!
In this paper, Dr. Arndt also coined the now popular term, “Prejuvenation”, a buzzword of sorts describing the cross between prevention and rejuvenation in cosmetic procedures, such as fillers, neurotoxins, neuromodulators, and other beauty treatments of the sort.
“Prejuvenation” is the consistent practice of a series of steps (in order of priority – most important to least) that will help prevent or impede many changes we associate with the appearance of aging. Fine lines, wrinkles, aging spots, thin and/or dry skin, and sagging skin are all common issues that bring men and women to dermatologists for treatment. If followed consistently and thoughtfully, the practice of prejuvenation will both maintain the health and aesthetics of our youth and enhance our natural appearances. It’s easier to prevent the aging process than it is to try and reverse it!
To help our patients make the most of prejuvenation and putting their best foot forward in 2021, Dr. Wright and his team have two exciting announcements. First, please welcome our Injection Specialist Ginnie, to the team! Ginnie is an RN and certified aesthetic injector with over 20 years of experience. She’s trained nurses and doctors for over 15 years in dermal fillers and neurotoxins, and she has years of experience in rejuvenating faces. She has a loyal following for anyone who gives her a try! We’re excited to have her expertise on the team and welcome her unparalleled passion for helping her patients determine the best treatment options available.
Second, Dr. Wright has recently developed a new Preferred Patient Program that pairs well with cosmetic procedures regardless of the stage you find yourself in – prevention, prejuvenation, or rejuvenation! In any case, we’re here to save our patients time and money, and provide some excellent perks along the way! Dr. Arndt’s philosophy is broken down into six easy steps, all of which Dr. Wright, Injection Specialist Ginnie, and his St. Louis-based team are happy to help with! Take a look at our Preferred Patient Program here, and review the 6 Steps of Prejuvenation below!
The term “prejuvenation” indicates these practices should be started early in life – namely for those in their teens, 20s, and 30s, but providing your skin adequate sun protection is extremely important at any age. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends everyone use sunscreen on a daily basis, and select one that provides broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays, is water resistant, and is an SPF 30 or higher.
In addition to using sunscreen, they also recommend taking the following steps when possible to protect your skin properly:
-Seek shade when possible, and remember that sun rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Follow this rule of thumb: if your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade.
-Dress to protect yourself from the sun by wearing lightweight long-sleeve shirts, pants, and wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses when possible, and especially when expecting longer sun exposure.
-Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand. These surfaces reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of sunburn!
-Practice a healthy diet that may include vitamin supplements as a way to get the necessary levels of vitamin D – this doesn’t have to just come from sun rays!
-Avoid tanning beds! Ultraviolet light from both the sun and from tanning beds can cause skin cancer, wrinkling, and leathery skin. Try using spray tanning products instead, but always include sunscreen with self tanning products, don’t substitute self tanner for sunscreen.
-Check your birthday suit on your birthday! AKA – examine your skin at least one time per year. If you notice anything changing, itching, or bleeding on your skin, see a board-certified dermatologist. Skin cancer is highly treatable when caught early.
Add some of the many “anti-aging” serums available at your local drug store to your sunscreen regime. Most anti-aging products that contain antioxidants already include UV ray protection and damaging free radicals such as pollutants in the air and other damaging chemicals that your skin may come into contact with. Look for serums that include vitamin C or vitamin E for these types of protection.
Additionally, adding a retinoid rich product to your skin on a daily basis is also important. While many people find themselves needing some kind of retinoid treatment in their teen years to address acne problems, these topical ointments also often contain collagen. Collagen is what gives our skin it’s structure, fullness, and firmness. These creams typically include vitamin A as well as collagen and help guard against pimples and blemishes, as well as wrinkles and aging spots. If you aren’t used to using retinoid creams for acne (lucky you!), start with using a small drop 1-2x per week and gradually move into daily use. It’s imperative to regularly apply retinoid creams, plus antioxidant serums, plus sunscreen to your skin to give yourself the best chance at maintaining that youthful and perky glow!
We use the muscles in our face every day. Wrinkles, also known as rhytids, are simply the folds, creases, and ridges in the skin that develop from the ongoing use of our facial muscles – the more we use them, the thinner and less elastic our skin becomes over time. Neuromodulators are a type of injection that can help relax the affected muscles that form these wrinkles or fine lines to diminish their appearance.
Or, in the case of practicing prejuvenation, relax the muscles before they have a chance to be “overworked” and cause the folds, creases, or ridges in the skin that develop into wrinkles. The best time to start neuromodulator injections is in a patient’s late twenties or early thirties, but Dr. Wright and his injection specialist, Ginnie, have helped dozens of patients of all ages hone the benefits of neuromodulators (like Botox or Dysport injections) to both prevent and soften wrinkles in problematic areas. These injections have proven successful at preventing and/or softening wrinkles and fine lines in the forehead, frown lines, or other lines around the eyes and eyebrows.
Starting in your early thirties, it’s important to address the outer layers of the skin that may have experienced sun damage. Resurfacing procedures are those that utilize the energy from lasers and powerful lights to remove damaged skin cells at the surface and increase collagen growth in the skin’s deeper layers. As a result, your skin can retain its elasticity and thickness and remain wrinkle-free. Chemical Peels, facials, skin tightening, and dermapen treatments are just a few of the available options for those seeking to resurface treatment through Dr. Wright’s practice!
There’s a reason the six steps to prejuvenation are in order of priority – because soft tissue fillers aren’t considered necessary right away like sunscreen and serums are. It’s only as we age that we begin to show signs of volume loss in the face as we lose collagen. It’s only as we reach the point of noticing modest volume loss that soft tissue fillers, primarily made up of hyaluronic acid, may be necessary. Hyaluronic acid fillers help stimulate your skin’s collagen and are the ideal treatment type for patients seeking treatments of the lips, under eyes, and cheeks and who wish to “get back” volume in these areas. Determining the timing of these types of injections for “prejuvenation” treatments is unique to every person – we all age differently. While many people don’t see volume loss until their 30s or 40s, others may see fine lines develop earlier than that.
Skin tightening treatments are last on the list because, like soft tissue fillers, this treatment option will not be necessary for every person at the point in time. It’s unlikely most of us will seek out skin tightening treatments while we’re happy with the elasticity we see in the mirror, but these treatments are the most effective if we catch the skin at the earliest signs of sagging. Getting a tightening treatment every few years can help head off sagging, although the effects of certain preventive treatments may be invisible in the moment. Just like the regular application of sunscreen and antioxidants that don’t deliver a “wow” with every application, they are proven to stave off wrinkles and sunspots. Check out Dr. Wright’s thoughts and skin tightening treatments for more information and if you think this is something your face might be ready for!