How Do Anti-Aging Treatments Actually Work?

Skin Treatments

How Do Anti-Aging Treatments Actually Work?

anti-aging (RA)

You’ve probably heard a lot about anti-aging treatments, but you might still feel like you don’t have much clear information about them. Who are they for? How do they work? Do they work?

It’s reasonable to want to know what you’re paying for before you buy a new treatment. After all, the last thing you need is another useless product in your medicine cabinet. So here’s everything you need to know about anti-aging treatments.

What are anti-aging treatments?

Before we talk about anti-aging treatments, let’s talk about what they’re designed to treat: aging itself. Aging is a natural process that’s going to happen no matter how well you take care of your skin, but certain things can speed up or slow down that process. For example, being exposed to the sun without sunscreen can damage your skin and accelerate the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

On the other hand, anti-aging treatments are designed to repair that damage and slow down the aging process. You might immediately think of surgical procedures like a facelift, but there actually are non-surgical treatment options that can be effective.

What are the types of anti-aging treatments?

Apart from surgical procedures, here are all the other types of anti-aging treatments:

  • Chemical peels: Certain chemicals, such as glycolic acid, have an exfoliating effect on skin, meaning that they cause dead skin cells to fall off. That helps remove scars and sun damage, and leaves your skin looking healthier.
  • Creams: Anti-aging creams contain ingredients known to improve wrinkles or make skin look fuller, like tretinoin, retinol, and alpha hydroxy acid.
  • Injectables: Injecting dermal fillers or botulinum toxin (a.k.a. Botox) can help fill in wrinkles and prevent your facial muscles from creating new ones.
  • Lasers and light therapy: Some lasers exfoliate the upper layers of the skin to encourage healing, while others use light to stimulate skin to heal without actually damaging it.
  • Microneedling/microdermabrasion: Another approach to exfoliation, microneedling involves rolling a cylinder covered in tiny needles across your skin to promote healing. Microdermabrasion is a less invasive option that sands away the outer layer of skin instead of puncturing it.
  • Sunscreen: Sunscreen won’t eliminate signs of aging, but it will “proactively protect the skin from the aging process,” says Facet Medical Advisor Dr. Peter Young. Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day for effective protection from sun damage.

So, how do they actually work?

How do anti-aging treatments work?

So now you know the different types of anti-aging treatments, but how do they all work? Of course, these procedures all vary in their specific tactics, but they generally share the same goal: encouraging your skin to produce collagen, the protein that makes your skin look plump and healthy. Aging causes collagen to deteriorate, making fine lines, wrinkles, and dark circles more noticeable. That’s why anti-aging treatments aim to bump up collagen production in your skin.

As you probably noticed, most anti-aging treatments do this by physically or chemically removing the top layers of your skin, kicking the healing process into motion.

How long do anti-aging treatments take to work?

Unfortunately, there’s no one answer to this that applies to everyone. The truth is that your skin, and the way it shows age, is unique, so the effects of your anti-aging treatment will be too.

For best results, make sure you choose treatments that are formulated for your skin type. That means using a moisturizer made for oily skin won’t do you much good if your skin is chronically dry. This is especially important if you have sensitive skin, because some anti-aging products can irritate your skin and wind up doing more harm than good.

An experienced medical provider can help you choose the best treatment for your skin and let you know what to expect.

Besides using anti-aging treatments, what else can I do for my skin?

Here are a few of our favorite tips:

  • Avoid getting a tan from the sun or from a tanning bed. You know this, but it’s always worth saying again: Harmful UV rays can accelerate aging, causing wrinkles and worse, cancer.
  • On that note, sun protection is so important. Always wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher, even on cloudy days.
  • Moisturize to keep water in the skin and reduce the look of some fine lines.
  • Test products first before you use them. Dab a small amount on your inner forearm twice a day for 4-5 days. If there’s no reaction, it’ll be safe to apply on your face.
  • Use a product only as directed. Active ingredients can do more harm than good if you use too much.
  • Steer clear of any products that will irritate your skin unless you’re using a prescription medication under a doctor’s care.
  • Try not to use too many skincare products at once. And when you are trying new products, give them time to work. Most need at least six weeks before you see results.

How do I know if I need anti-aging treatment?

Let’s be clear: No one needs anti-aging treatment just because of the way their skin looks. Whether or not you could benefit from one of these treatments depends on what’s important to you. There’s nothing wrong with aging, but if you’re bothered by fine lines and wrinkles, you don’t have to just deal with them. (And if you’re not bothered by them, no one should expect you to treat them.)

The fact is that skin changes over time. It’s natural and there’s no shame in it. But if you want to slow that process down, you have plenty of effective treatment options (even if you don’t want to get a facelift).

Article Reviewed By

Dr. Peter Young, MD, Facet Medical Director and Board-Certified Dermatologist

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