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Causes of Wrinkles and Fine Lines


Wrinkles can have a profound effect on a person's self esteem. The Cosmetic Surgery Industry is thriving with over $12 Billion dollars being spent to hide the effects of aging. Our society places youthfulness at a premium, with most people wanting to be perceived as being healthy and fit. Even in an economic downturn, the emotional aftermath that a person might experience from having being discriminated against in the workplace because of age -  keeps plastic surgeons busy.




As we age - the skin goes through various changes:

  • The cells divide slower - the inner layer of dermis starts to thin. The fat cells beneath the dermis shrink in size.  Skin loses the ability to repair itself with age - with wounds healing much slower. The thinner skin becomes vulnerable to injury or damage.

  • The deeper layer of skin that provides the "scaffolding" for the surface layers starts to become loose and possibly come undone.  The skin loses its elasticity or ability to stretch. The skin cannot bounce back into position if pressure is applied - as the skin ages, furrows and sagging occur.

  • The oil secreting glands will shrink or lose shape, leaving the skin without a protective layer of fat. The skin loses its ability of staying moisturized - and becomes dry and scaly.

  • Frown lines or the glabellar lines (between the eyebrows) and crow's feet (peri-orbital lines) start to form because of permanent small muscle contractions. Facial expressions that are made all the time contribute to lines and wrinkles forming.

  • Gravity as we all know it, definitely makes lines and wrinkles worse - contributing to the drooping of eyelids or the formation of jowls.




Sunlight is the single most important cause or "prematurely aging skin".  This is also known as Photo-aging and can contribute to skin cancer.  Most of the damaging effects of the sun is done by the age of 18.  It is these years that are so crucial with having over-exposure of ultraviolet radiation from the sun.  During these years, the damage has been done with 90 percent of the symptoms of premature skin aging.  This is commonly referred to as UVA or UVB Radiation.


How Sunlight and Photoaging Contribute to Aging of the Skin:

  • Even the smallest amounts of ultraviolet radiation can trigger the process that leads to skin prematurely aging and wrinkles.

  • Long term exposure to ultraviolet radiation is the number one cause of basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma (skin cancer) including the deadly form of melonoma.

  • 50 - 80 percent of all skin damage occurs in childhood and adolescence from intermittent intense sun exposure that causes a severe "sunburn".


Difference between UVA and UVB Rays:

  • Ultraviolet radiation penetrates the layers of the skin with damaging the cells in various ways.

  • UVB rays is the number one cause of sunburns and affects the outer skin layers (epidermis)

  • UVA tends to penetrate the skin more deeply; however, the intensity is less depending on the time of the day and season of the year.

  • UVB rays are more intense during mid-day when sunlight is the brightest - with people receiving 70 percent of yearly UVB rays during the summer and only 28 percent during the winter.

  • Window tint helps filters out UVB rays but not UVA rays

  • Both UVA and UVB rays have the potential of damaging the body, including genetic injury, wrinkles, aging, skin disorders, and skin cancers.





How Sunlight Contributes to Wrinkles

  • Sunlight damages collagen fibers (the major protein that gives structure to the skin).

  • Sunlight also damages elastin, a protein in the skin that normally maintains the springiness and strength of tissue beneath the skin.

  • The elastin damage caused by the sunlight will make the body produce a large amount of metalloproteinase.  

  • Even exposure to ultraviolet rays or sunlight for a mere 5 - 15 minutes a day may raise the metalloproteinase levels in the body. 

  • The main function of metalloproteinase is to remodel the sun damaged skin by producing and repairing collagen.  Doing this can cause an uneven formation or matrix of collagen fibers called solar scars.  With each exposure to the sunlight, the repetition of the imperfect skin rebuilding causing wrinkles.

  • The sunlight also contributes to the over-production of oxidants or "free radicals".  Oxidants are unstable molecules that are normally produced by the chemical process - oxidation. The environmental damage is caused by the over-production of oxidants - and the excess amounts of oxidants damage the body's cells.




The following contribute to the formation of wrinkles:

Cigarette Smoke: It is a known fact that smoking produces oxygen free radicals which has a direct correlation to wrinkles and pre-mature aging of the skin.  Cigarette smoking also can increase the risk for "non-melanoma" skin cancers (basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas).

Rapid Weight Loss Weight loss that occurs too fast has a direct correlation to the volume of fat cells diminishing before the skin can react.  This can cause skin to sag and droop.

Air pollution Pollution can contribute to aging of the skin prematurely.  The ozone is very damaging to the skin and can cause the loss of vitamin E.  It is this antioxidant that is very important with binding free radicals which can lead to potential damage of the skin.  Anti-aging cream does help with providing a barrier and protect the skin from the negative effects of the ozone and other pollutants.

Heredity:  Genetics have always been a big part in aging, including the amount of elastin that a person is born with.  Dryness or oiliness of the skin and how efficiently a body produces collagen are all predetermined by genes.

Sun Damage:  One of the biggest and most important risk factors with aging is sun damage and ultraviolet or UV rays.  It is these rays that damage the skin's collagen causing abnormal collagen to form and promote premature wrinkles.

Skin Color:  People who have lighter colored skin are more susceptible to sunburn and tend to develop wrinkles earlier than people with darker skin tones.



Heredity – Genetics plays a big part in aging, and is particularly true in terms of the level of skin elasticity a person is born with. Types of wrinkles acquired, how young a person starts to show signs of aging, the level of dryness or oiliness of the skin, and how efficiently a body produces collagen are often determined by genes.

Read more at Suite101: The Causes of Wrinkles and Premature Aging: Genetics, Skincare, Collagen and Lifestyle all Determine Aging