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Sun exposure and skin aging

Are young and middle-age women in the dark about what makes their skin age? A recent survey by a cosmetic practice in Surrey, UK, suggests that maybe they are. And maybe cosmetic surgeons need to increase focus on addressing the stress and anxiety women say they believe are fueling wrinkles and more.

Staff at the UK cosmetic medicine and weight loss clinic, health + aesthetics, surveyed 1004 women in the UK, ages 25 to 54, about what they thought caused their skin to age.

While 30% of the women cited stress and anxiety and 18.2% said having children was the culprit, only 4.4% blamed the big offender: sun exposure.

Dr. PoznerWhen it comes to women downplaying with the role of sun exposure in skin aging, Boca Raton, Fla., plastic surgeon Jason Pozner, M.D., says he sees the disconnect — even in the sunshine state.

“Since I live in Florida, understanding the role in the sun plays in skin aging is super important. I discuss this with just about all my patients. It’s especially important, as I do a lot of laser treatments,” Dr. Pozner says.

Among the other reasons women blame for skin aging according to the survey:

  • Lack of sleep (21% )
  • Poor diet and fitness (15.1%)
  • Smoking (4.7%)
  • Alcohol (4.3%)

The remaining women attributed skin aging to a variety of other causes, including disability.

Dr. TailorThe survey suggests that women are simply not aware of the biggest causes of skin aging, says Rekha Tailor, M.D., an aesthetic practitioner and the clinic’s founder and medical director.

When counselling patients, Dr. Tailor says she goes through the many contributors to visible skin aging — from lifestyle to hormonal issues. Among those: stress and anxiety, lack of sleep, poor fluid intake, sunlight, smoking, alcohol, poor nutrition, menopause and genetics.

In practice, Dr. Pozner does too, emphasizing the roles of sun exposure, hormone changes associated with menopause, smoking and, simply, getting older.

NEXT: Survey Implications

 

Survey Implications

The survey’s finding that so many women are focused on stress and anxiety has implications for cosmetic physicians, according to Dr. Tailor.

“All doctors, including cosmetic surgeons, need to be aware of these issues. We need to counsel patients on how to cope with stress and anxiety,” she says. “… it is important to give women an opportunity to relax and pamper themselves.”

Making the choice to care for themselves could have a positive ripple effect of improving self-esteem, reducing stress and anxiety and even improving relationships and performance at work, Dr. Tailor says.

While Dr. Tailor says a larger study of women from different geographic areas would help confirm results, the survey is a reminder that the goal isn’t to cosmetically and unnaturally eliminate aging.

“A common fear women have is that having a cosmetic procedure will make them look ‘over-done,’ but the aim of good cosmetic treatments is to make women look fresh and rejuvenated,” Dr. Tailor says.

“It’s not about making someone 45 look 25 for example, it’s about educating women on the most appropriate treatments for them and supporting them in their goal to improve their skin and feel good about how they look.”

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