Many cosmetic procedures claim to keep wrinkles and signs of ageing at bay. We know they often work pretty well for women who show signs of early ageing, especially in their face and neck areas. But does that mean women in their 20s or 30s should have anti-ageing cosmetic procedures before these signs even appear? Do these procedures really help prevent signs of ageing from appearing in the first place? Or could they end up making you look worse?
Most women know that by the time they’re 40 their skin won’t appear as youthful and resilient as it did when they were in their 20s. But does it make sense for women in their 20s or 30s seeking anti-ageing cosmetic procedures? Do they really help prevent signs of ageing or end up making things worse?
Early signs of ageing include a subtle but distinct sagging of facial tissues, ultimately leading to loss of facial contours. You can easily see this around your mouth, in the flattening of your cheeks and more alarmingly, gradual jowl formation. Drooping forehead or softening of the neck area are also early signs of ageing. But all these signs appear in younger women without the typical skin wrinkling, loose skin and excess skin folds that we see in much older women.
What are maintenance procedures?
Ageing is a continuum. Young people have the same problems as the older ones, but in a microform. Cosmetic treatments, therefore, need to be less aggressive and more meticulous.
According to the Winter 2010 issue of HealthPoint e-newsletter issued by the Columbia University Medical Center in New York, staging of ‘age maintenance’ procedures through adulthood provides superior results.
Anti-ageing procedures can be surgical, minimally invasive or non-invasive. The HealthPoint e-newsletter lists maintenance procedures for those in their 20s to include the following:
- Medical approaches including sun block, acne control, and topical creams and ointments that incorporate retinols and vitamin C.
- Minimally invasive skin procedures such as dermabrasion.
- Laser hair reduction.
- Reduction of spider veins.
- Commitment to personal fitness and weight control.
The article recommends that those in their 30’s should think about
- Minimally invasive and non-surgical procedures including fillers and anti-wrinkle injections in the face.
- Surgical correction of abdomen, breast, or other tissues after pregnancy.
- Discreet surgical procedures for the eyes, face, and neck, which can prolong the period of time that a woman looks her best as menopause approaches.
- Light-based facial treatments including laser resurfacing, intense pulsed light or plasma.
Did you notice that there are no surgical procedures in the 20s to do list?
Surgical maintenance procedures include the repositioning of the midface, cheeks, jowls, neck and forehead as well as various eyelid procedures.
Early maintenance procedures make plenty of sense because waiting until later means you have to play catch-up. And everyone knows that extensive procedures can leave you with an unnatural or overdone look. Instead, beginning early with an incremental approach is best, says Robert T. Grant, Plastic Surgeon-in-Chief at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Dr. Grant specialises in helping his patients enhance or maintain their natural appearance over time and throughout their adult lives.
Why environmental, biological and lifestyle factors matter
People age differently and at different rates. Environmental, biological and lifestyle factors play a pivotal role in each individual’s ageing process. Your ethnicity, whether you take care of your skin by applying sunscreen when going out in the sun, whether you keep yourself well hydrated and what you eat all affect how well or poorly you age. If a woman with fair skin never applied sunscreen, didn’t eat healthy meals and smoked cigarettes for numerous years, she is more likely to see accelerated signs of ageing than a woman with a healthier lifestyle and better skin care.
The flipside – Can early procedures make you look worse?
There is a case for being proactive, but can it work to your disadvantage? We could have asked; could such procedures actually make you look older? But that is really a question for a medical research paper or review. So we are sticking with ‘worse’ instead.
If you listen to conventional wisdom, you’d see that the more things you do to your skin, the worse it will look in the long term. Of course, this does not include keeping it well hydrated, nourished and safe from exposure to the sun and other elements. But surely, makeup and all those other chemicals we put on our faces can have a negative effect. A case in point is wearing makeup but not cleansing your skin afterwards, which can clog up pores and contribute to acne.
Subjecting your skin to too many procedures, especially ones that expose it to heat, laser, abrasives and harsh chemicals, dry your skin out. And dry skin ages faster than well-hydrated or oily skin.
If you believe early injectable treatments can prevent signs of ageing, you might want to consider this article from The Telegraph: Having anti-wrinkle injections too soon could make you look old before your time. Although written by a London cosmetic specialist, Darren McKeown, it is not a scientific paper based on direct research findings. However, take a look at this paragraph:
But the trend (teenage anti-wrinkle injections) misses one crucial point: There is no evidence that in the long term anti-wrinkle injections work as a preventative, nor is there any license to use it as such. The drug works on wrinkles by relaxing the muscles responsible for expression lines and is licensed only for the treatment of moderate to severe frown lines.
Here are a few more paragraphs that drive the point home:
Anti-wrinkle injections can be a powerful and effective treatment for those who choose to use it and, for some, can restore self-esteem lost through the process of ageing. But it is important to remember that this is a prescription-only medication, with long-term implications for facial development.
Generally, it is best to wait at least until there are lines on the face when the face is at rest, which for most people is at some point in their thirties. Having the treatment too early may not only lead to undesirable results over time; you could just be depriving yourself of the best looks you were ever destined to have.
When it comes to cosmetic surgery, an overdone look makes it obvious that a woman in her 40s, 50s, 60s or older has had “work done” on her face. Everyone knows the plastic, done look with overstretched skin. You certainly will not look better if you have a ‘done look’ while in your twenties. Surgeons urge restraint and less aggressive, more discreet procedures for younger women. And anyway the ‘done’ look is no longer in style.
Unnatural-looking surgical cosmetic procedures include overly tight skin on the forehead and neck, overly defined cheekbones, and top lips that are just as plump as bottom lips, which creates a very unnatural, trout-like pout or ‘duck-lips’.
If the obvious ‘done look’ is bad, looking like you have had such procedures multiple times can only be worse. See what Aussies think on these lines by reading the Costhetics article Michelle Pfeiffer Gets it Right.
We guess this trend of trying to solve problems too early and ending up looking worse is what prompted a recent American Vogue article to say “Women are now starting their antiaging regimens younger and younger—well before they even have a wrinkle to speak of…” and ironically they often end up looking older.
Many young women don’t take into account the possible side effects of cosmetic surgery, or the unnatural appearance they could end up paying for. They fail to consider that they are, in fact, still growing. Bone structure changes over time, especially from young adulthood in your teens until your late 20s and 30s. As time passes, the overall structure and appearance of your face will change and begin to look more mature.
Most women in their teens and early 20s who decide to have elective cosmetic surgery haven’t considered what they’ll look like when they’ve had a chance to fully mature. They can save a lot of money and preventable heartbreak by allowing nature to take its course naturally instead of jumping the gun—trying to prevent ageing before it starts. To understand this, see what the Telegraph article mentioned above says about Elizabeth Taylor and her classic looks, which really did not achieve true perfection until Liz was well into her 30s.
Young women who want to keep their skin looking youthful and resilient can start a daily skin care routine. Women in their mid to late 20s should consider implementing an anti-ageing skin care regime.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure to do your homework. Research the procedure and the surgeon you choose, and you have a better chance of being happy with the ultimate results—even if what you decide to do is nothing.