Facing the facts — Busting the most common anti-aging myths

You could spend hours reading online tips for preventing wrinkles or the latest shortcuts to achieving a younger looking face. What is fact and what is fiction? Washington University facial plastic surgeons Gregory Branham, MD, and John Chi, MD, help shed some light on the most common misconceptions people of all ages have when it comes to aging gracefully.

You don’t need to use sunscreen on a cool or cloudy day, or if you are in the shade, care or office

FALSE. According to Dr. Branham, “UVB rays, responsible for sunburns, can reach skin indirectly, through reflection when you’re under a tree or near a window. Think of how your carpet or furniture fades in the sun.

You actually need sunscreen with at least SPF 30 every day— for every forecast, in every season whether you are inside or out. Up to 80% of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet light can pass through clouds and fog. In addition to a cancer threat, the sun is responsible for more than 90% of the visible changes commonly attributed to skin aging, including wrinkles and age spots.

Exposure to UV light damages the collagen and elastin fibers deep in your skin, causing it to lose strength and flexibility. You need protection 365 days a year. A good sunscreen with moisturizer will also keep your skin from drying out in harsh weather.”

Tanning booths are safe as long as they don’t contain UVB rays

FALSE. Dr. Chi explains, “We all know that tanning in the sun is unhealthy. The same is true for tanning booths. Tanning booth companies often say they are filtering out the “sunburn” UVB rays. But if you tan in a booth, you are still exposing your skin to UVA rays, which penetrate deeper into the skin and cause damage that can lead to premature aging and skin cancers. There is some thought that UVA rays may be more responsible for melanoma than UVB rays. Bottom line — no tanning is safe.”

Sun exposure can be treated

TRUE. To correct the damage from the sun or tanning booth use, skin can be resurfaced with a physician-directed laser treatment or chemical peel. These procedures strip away the superficial skin layers. In a matter of a few days, the skin is smoother with more even tones.Depending on the treatment, the down-time can range from several days to a week. A full face fractionated laser treatment or a medium depth peel offer the best results when it comes to making an impact on fine lines and age spots. The results of a laser treatment, even one week after the procedures, can be very dramatic.

Standing on your head every day helps fight the force of gravity in your face

FALSE. “While one of the more amusing anti-aging myths” says Dr. Branham, “it just isn’t true.”

Drink eight glasses of water a day to keep the wrinkles away

FALSE. “It’s true that people who are dehydrated have dry skin and look more aged, but this is not causing permanent wrinkles. There is no scientific proof that drinking extra water can make dry skin supple,” says Dr. Chi. “To keep your skin hydrated, limit time in hot or chlorinated water, use gentle cleansers instead of soap or products that contain alcohol.

Remember all the things that are bad for you, are bad for your skin – sun, smoking and drinking alcohol. Your daily habits can go a long way in preventing lines.”

Skin care is less important than cosmetic procedures

FALSE. To protect your skin and maintain anti-aging efforts, topical skin care should always be used – either by itself or in combination with cosmetic procedures. To make the most of your investment in cosmetic procedures (and your skin), always use a good skincare line.

You can get a facelift “in a bottle”

FALSE. “That’s an unrealistic expectation. Facelifts are surgical procedures, and there are no skincare products that will achieve the same outcome. Advanced aging changes may be corrected with a facelift, browlift or eyelid tuck and should be performed by a board-certified facial plastic surgeon,” says Dr. Branham.

Instant facelifts that take about an hour to perform are just as good as a traditional facelifts

FALSE. Dr. Chi says, “This is not true. Unfortunately, we see many patients who believed this and have been disappointed. In extreme cases, they have become disfigured or experienced severe complications. For safe, effective results, the best course of action is to speak with a board-certified plastic surgeon about the look you want to achieve and find out which procedures will work for you.”

You won’t age naturally if you have cosmetic surgery

FALSE. “This was true in the early days of plastic surgery, but not now, particularly when you choose a physician that is skilled in the newest techniques, products, and technology used for facial rejuvenation. We use techniques that allow the facial features to age naturally,” according to Dr. Branham.

For more information on treatment options to achieve a natural, healthy look that is right for you, please call 314-996-3880. Dr. Branham and Dr. Chi see patients at the Washington University Facial Plastic Surgery Center, 1020 N. Mason Rd, Suite 205.