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Is Your Skin Aging Faster Than You Are?

Genetics, smoking, and sun can make you look older, but doctors say there are ways to fight back.

In Your 50s

In your 50s, Massa says, "all the things that hit in the 40s are deeper and more intense. Fine lines on the cheeks become more of an issue. Lines from the nose to the mouth or from the corners of the mouth down - marionette lines - become deeper. Age spots become more common."

Age spots on the face or hands can be treated with bleaching agents, chemical peels, lasers, or liquid nitrogen. Using sunscreen can prevent new spots from forming. As for the lines, Botox and filler products remain an effective option, but laser skin resurfacing can provide more dramatic results. Massa says superficial or "nonablative" laser treatments can stimulate collagen formation and rejuvenate skin without a lengthy recovery period. "A series of these treatments can soften fine lines on the cheeks, the upper lips or under the eyes."

Lior says patients with deep wrinkles and severe sun damage may want to consider more aggressive carbon dioxide (CO2) laser resurfacing. This technique uses a high-energy laser beam to vaporize outer layers of skin, revealing fresh skin underneath. After several weeks of healing, the patient typically has tighter skin with fewer wrinkles and less discoloration.

In Your 60s

People in their 60s and beyond tend to have loose, sagging skin that may appear crepe-like or pebbly. A creamy yellow discoloration is common in fair people of this age, as are wrinkles that extend beyond the eye and mouth areas. "There are many more complaints about lines on the cheeks," Massa says. "Filler products can soften these lines," as can laser treatments.

Massa says most of the strategies for rejuvenating skin in the 40s and 50s can also work for people in their 60s. "The 60s are a very vibrant time for doing all of this. Sixty today isn't like it was in the last generation. People are still working and want to look good throughout their 60s."

At Any Age

If you're unhappy with how your skin is aging, Lior's advice is to "start applying sunscreen, lose the tan, and stop smoking." Then check with your dermatologist to see which procedures might be right for you. "To a point, you can turn back the clock and rejuvenate skin."

Massa adds that turning back the clock no longer requires surgery. "People have many choices to fix problems that are bothering them. The number of options keeps growing, and the products are safer, better, and more versatile than in the past."

Published Sept. 26, 2005.

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