Wrinkles are a normal part of getting older, but they aren’t a popular one. The University of Maryland Medical Center estimates that Americans spend more than $12 billion every year on cosmetic procedures designed to fight off the signs of aging.
Wrinkles show up when your skin thins and loses its elasticity, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. As the deepest layer of your skin and the fat cells in it begin to loosen and pull apart, your skin loses its ability to bounce back. Over time, your skin begins to sag, forming lines that deepen into furrows, especially in places where your small facial muscles make habitual movements–often around your eyes and mouth.
Several factors can lead to the skin damage that causes wrinkles. Age is a factor, since skin tends to thin as you get older, and genetics play a role, too–the age your parents began to get wrinkles is a fairly good predictor of when you can expect to get wrinkles, according to MedLine Plus, the online health information resource maintained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. Exposure to sunlight, smoking, pollution and significant weight loss all can contribute to wrinkle formation.
You can protect your skin from some of the factors that cause wrinkles. If you apply sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher every time you’re going to be out in the sun, you will prevent the cause of 90 percent of premature skin aging, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. If you smoke or spend a lot of time with people who smoke or in smoky places, change your habits–smoking can speed up the processes that cause wrinkles.
There is no cure for wrinkles, but several cosmetic treatments can make them less noticeable. Serums and creams that contain the vitamin A derivatives retinol or tretinoin can help minimize the appearance of some wrinkles, but MedLine Plus says the jury still is out on how effective they actually are. Chemical peels, laser resurfacing and Botox are more likely to deliver definite results, according to MedLine Plus. Plastic surgery also can reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Wrinkles are a normal part of aging, but occasionally they might signal a more serious health problem. If wrinkles start to appear obvious when you are young, or if you have a skin lesion in addition to wrinkles–especially if the skin lesion has changed in appearance–consult a doctor to rule out a more serious health problem.