Living in sunny Georgia where we don’t have to spend months indoors to avoid frigid temperatures, we’re constantly thinking about sun damage and skin cancer. It can all be a little overwhelming, and it can make you wonder if we wouldn’t be better off living like Gollum from The Hobbit. After all, living in an underground cavern his whole life, surely his skin is perfect! Not a sunspot or wrinkle to be seen.
Not exactly. Yes, while living in a cave would preclude much of the sun damage and other environmental factors that conspire to age our skin, we would still have some wrinkling and volume loss.
Such is the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic aging.
When you’re young, the skin’s outer layer, the epidermis, is smooth and acts as an effective barrier to water and environmental damage. The skin’s color and tone are even, without any pigmentation issues.
And the skin’s support system is strong. Collagen, which provides the skin’s firmness; elastin, which gives the skin elasticity and rebound; and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), which keep the skin hydrated, are all abundant.
This is why young skin is firmer, evenly toned, and free of wrinkles.
Two types of aging
And then the clock starts ticking, and suddenly you begin to develop wrinkles. Wrinkling is a combination of two types of aging — intrinsic and extrinsic.
- Intrinsic aging just happens. It doesn’t matter if you live in Alpharetta or a rainforest. After your 20th birthday, your body cuts its production of collagen by one percent each year. This makes the skin thinner and more fragile the older you get. Your sweat and oil glands also slow their function, and elastin and GAGs drop as well. Intrinsic aging is inevitable, but it isn’t the main cause of wrinkles.
- That would be extrinsic aging. This is the aging that Gollum would avoid. Extrinsic aging occurs because of sun and environmental damage (smoking or exposure to pollution, among other things). Your supple skin with the even tone changes. Extrinsic aging shows itself as a thickening of the cornified outer layer of the skin. Precancerous growths, skin cancers, and freckles and sun spots all start to show up, directly related to your amount of sun exposure. This exposure also causes an exaggerated loss of collagen, elastin, and GAGs.
All of these factors team up to give your skin a rough appearance, uneven tone, brown patches, sagging skin, and deep wrinkles.
That’s where Dr. Beaty’s surgical and non-surgical options come into play, battling the effects of extrinsic aging. From his ProLift to laser resurfacing to microneedling, we provide numerous options to address your aging skin. Call us at (770) 753-0053 and make an appointment for a consultation.