Doctor’s Appointment | Skin care, anti-ageing and tips to maintain a youthful glow
Skin is in! On the last Doctor's Appointment, the whole matter of anti-ageing and proper skincare was discussed as host Dr Sara Lawrence was joined by Dr Arusha Campbell-Chambers, clinical and cosmetic dermatologist, and founder and head of Dermatology Solutions.
Ageing is inevitable. This very complex process is divided into main categories, intrinsic or internal ageing and extrinsic or external or premature ageing. The skincare expert explains that internal ageing is the skin's natural ageing process that happens because of the genes that a person inherits. While premature ageing is accelerated ageing based on a person's lifestyle.
A number of factors play into how and when we begin to age, including exposure to the sun, which accounts for about 80 per cent of ageing, as well as cigarette smoking, alcohol, stress, pollutants, lack of sleep, different sleeping positions and even gravity, among others. All these factors lead to various changes in the skin.
Dr Campbell-Chambers points out that the skin consists of different layers and as result, the outer layer, of the skin tends to get dry or rough as people age.
In addition, fine lines and wrinkles begin to develop as people get older, but the skin expert says this may not just be a surface problem but may indicate a loss of collagen, changes in the elastic tissue in the middle layer of the skin called the dermis, or even changes in the fat layer under the skin.
She goes on to explain that this redistribution of the fat under the skin can cause sinking in some areas, which accounts for hollowing under eye sockets, sagging of the lower eyelid and jaws or sagging in the face structure completely.
But ageing goes beyond skin and fat, she said, it also has to do with changes in a person's bone structure and muscles. As people age, they lose bone, which shows in the skin and facial structures. In addition, expressions caused by the movement of the muscles can also cause different frown and laugh lines, which may speed up ageing.
No one wants to look years ahead of their actual age, but there are many factors which contribute to accelerated ageing. Exposure to sunlight and cigarette smoke are among the most common factors, according to Dr Campbell-Chambers. Therefore, she says the number one anti-ageing method one can use is sun protection, by way of sunscreen. Sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) is essential, and contrary to popular belief it does not make your complexion darker.
However, she does point out the fact that people with darker skin tones have more melanin and thus more natural protection from the sun, but should still use sunscreen.
Furthermore, she says cigarette smoking rapidly ages persons' skin, along with alcohol and stress. Added to these is poor nutrition. Thus, the skin care specialist says, your skin reflects what you eat, therefore, foods that are rich in antioxidants like berries, green tea, nuts, garlic, avocado or even red wine can help fight against the free radicals in the body, which promote loss of collagen and tissue.
RESTORATION AND TREATMENT
Yet, all is not lost if a person begins to age rapidly. There are a number of procedures and medical aid that can enhance the look of youth again. For example, simple techniques like doing a chemical peel, microdermabrasion, prescription strength retinoids or using different products that can help to reverse or delay the signs of ageing are available in Jamaica. In addition, people can employ procedures such as injectables, botox and fillers. Yet, Dr Campbell-Chambers says there is one other procedure done, which in her opinion is more exciting than the others, platelet-rich plasma.
This technique involves taking blood from a person, processing it and then injecting the clear yellowish plasma back into the skin. She explains that this procedure accelerates the healing of your skin, since the platelets release a lot of growth factors, stimulate stem cells, cause new blood vessel formation and can knock 10 or 15 years off a person in a matter of months. There are still other restoration techniques that can be used, like lasering, which is a light treatment that acts on the collagen layer, as well as micro-needling, which uses tiny needles to trick the skin into regenerating collagen. But there are also a wealth of practical steps that can also be taken by each individual to help prevent early ageing.
First, de-stress. Persons have to try as much as possible to control how they react to the situations around them. Second, get adequate sleep because lack of sleep shows on the skin. Interestingly, Dr Campbell-Chambers even says that sleeping positions can either speed up or slow down ageing too. She says that if a person sleeps on their back, they create fewer creases on the skin than if they slept on their tummy. The third step is to eat more healthy foods, like those packed with antioxidants and drink lots of water. Fourth, turn your frown upside down. Studies show that for people who frown a lot, the muscles in-between the eyebrows get so developed that they always look angry. Ultimately, over-the-counter products like moisturisers, sunscreens and cleansers, which have in antioxidants, retinol, vitamins C And E or minerals like copper can help too.
OTHER DERMATOLOGICAL ISSUES
In speaking about the other dermatological issues dealt with at Dermatology Solutions, Dr Campbell-Chambers says her company deals with all conditions of the skin, hair and nails. Addressing conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, aging skin, scars, stretch marks, acute skin rashes and allergic reactions, as well as several scalp disorders such as scarring and non-scarring disorders and male and female pattern balding, her team works to care for the needs of patients across the region, with locations in Kingston, Montego Bay, and Arnos Vale, St Vincent.
What is more, Dr Campbell-Chambers says there are several skin disorders that are signs of other internal problem and maladies. She says that she and her team are also qualified to recognise acute skin signs like acanthosis nigrican, where behind the neck gets dark and thick and the cheeks and other body parts begin to crease, which may be a sign of diabetes or a host of other endocrine disorders. Other conditions, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, can cause acne and unwanted hair and other bothersome problems.
At the appointment, other topics like skin bleaching and the excessive use of make-up were also discussed, in relation to skincare and anti-ageing.
Ageing is caused when collagen and elastin fibres become thicker, more clumped, and looser, resulting in inelastic and brittle skin and eventually wrinkling and sagging. But there are many ways to combat early ageing. Maintain a more youthful look, by reducing stress, protecting your skin from the sun, eating healthier and consulting with your dermatologist when possible. Also, treat yourself to a spa day every once in a while to keep rejuvenated and refreshed.
Join us next week Sunday at 5:30 p.m. on TVJ when we look at Emergency Medicine. Doctor's Appointment is a family and health-oriented television programme that is produced by Maverick Communications Limited.