“You look great……for your age”

Someone said this to my mum recently. As much as it was intended to be a compliment, she was incensed!  Now in her 70’s, my mum still insists on wearing stilettos and never goes out of the house without make-up. She is an amazing lady and looks every inch of it (although I do officially object to the stilettos, due to health and safety concerns) writes Dr Julia Sen.

I also bristle when someone says this to me. Age has nothing to do with anything. We all want to look good, whatever our age. The idea of “letting yourself go” once we reach a certain age is a long outdated one and good thing too! Looking after our appearance is important on many levels, apart from basic good personal hygiene, taking time and care on our appearance is a practice of self love; we are telling ourselves that we are worth the effort. Presenting our best selves to the world also improves our confidence, self esteem and feelings of wellbeing, all of which enhance the quality of our lives. This is the reason why so-called, “bad hair days” make us feel generally a bit under par.

So when people come to see me about their cosmetic concerns and say, “I know it’s only vanity…”, I disagree. As humans, our brains are programmed to take in other peoples’ appearance and make judgements about their age, health status, lifestyle, mood and potential fertility (aka attractiveness). We don’t even realise we’re doing it most of the time; it’s innate.

As we mature, our bodies change and so do our faces. We start to notice wrinkles, laxity and pigment irregularities in the skin but what most people don’t realise is that these surface changes are only part of the facial ageing process. We also lose bone, muscle and fat from our faces, in a predictable way. There are racial variations but in general there is horizontal narrowing of the forehead, recession of the bones in the midface, blunting of the angle of the jaw and deflation of the fat compartments. The shrinking of our supporting bony scaffold causes the overlying soft tissues to descend, leading to jowls, heavy nose to mouth lines (nasolabial folds) and hooding of the eyelids. The problem resulting from these changes is that the resting face can give signals to the outside world which are misleading; for example, patients who come to me for blepharoplasty (eyelid rejuvenation) surgery often complain that people comment about how tired they look, even when they are fully rested and those with lower face jowls and downturn of the lips from loss of soft tissue support in the chin, can appear unhappy even when they feel perfectly content; they report that their miserable-looking resting face adversely affects their social and professional interactions and reduces their confidence.

So if you are considering dipping your toes into the world of rejuvenation, where to start?

Medical Aesthetics is both science and art. As such, it requires years of training and experience. Unfortunately, it is a poorly regulated industry, so it is up to you to ensure that you are in safe hands. Doctors, dentists and nurses have to be annually appraised and indemnified so offer the best assurance of safe and ethical practice. The highest calibre practices will be also registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) the body which regulates healthcare facilities. Surprisingly, this is not mandatory. A good practitioner will always ask you in detail about your specific concerns, take a medical history and give you options, according to your requirements, the level of intervention you feel comfortable with, the timescale available (e.g. before an upcoming event) and your budget. You should receive information in writing about the procedure, ideally in advance, in order to consider the risks and benefits, ask questions and have a “cooling off” period before you proceed. It’s important to feel completely at ease with your practitioner. You are trusting them with your face, after all.

For the uninitiated, the most popular treatments include, Botulinum Toxin (Botox is just one of a number of brands), Dermal Fillers, Thread Lifting, Chemical Peels, HIFU (High Intensity Focussed Ultrasound), Plasma Therapy and Microneedling. To find out more about these treatments, visit https://drjuliasen.co.uk/sen-aesthetic/

If rejuvenation, whether surgical or non-surgical is not for you there are still lots of things you can do to keep looking and feeling your best:

1) Don’t smoke.

Smoking accelerates bone loss and smokers lose collagen and other structural proteins from their skin earlier than non-smokers.

2) Eat a healthy, nutritious and varied diet.

Avoid refined carbohydrates as they result in peaks in blood sugar levels which contribute to premature ageing of the skin.

3)   Get sufficient sleep.

It helps skin to repair.

4)   Wear an SPF every day.

UV damage is responsible for the majority of skin ageing changes. I recommend iS Clinical Eclipse SPF 50

5)   Stay well hydrated and keep alcohol consumption to a minimum.
6)  Exercise regularly.

It has been shown to reverse signs of ageing in the skin and weight bearing  exercise helps maintain bone density.

7)  Look after your teeth.

Loss of teeth accelerates bone loss in the jaw and hence ageing  changes in the lower face.

8)  Invest in a good quality skin care regime.

I recommend the iS Clinical and Calecim ranges. Prescription only skin rejuvenative products are also available following consultation.

Having achieved a milestone birthday myself last year, I have to say that contrary to expectations, I’m loving being 50 and am never tempted to lie about my age but that doesn’t mean I intend to look my age or heaven forbid, to grow old gracefully. Being my mother’s daughter, I confidently expect to be tottering around in stilettos and still rocking a red lippy into my 90’s. And if anyone tells me I look great for my age, I will probably take them out with my zimmer frame!


Julia x

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