How To Gracefully Age From Your Mid 20s On

Dr. Alina Sholar is a renowned plastic surgeon based in Austin, TX, the founder of Skin Science Soul by Dr. Sholar and her much-adored Dr2Dr skincare program exclusively for physicians. Dr. Sholar is recognized nationally as an aesthetic laser expert and is frequently featured in national media outlets for skin aging. After completing a full five-year general surgery residency at the University of Louisville, she went on to a Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery at the University of Tennessee. Dr. Alina Sholar is not only known for her unparalleled medical background, she also builds a true connection with her patients, with an easy girl’s-girl relatability.

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While we surely can’t stop our skin from aging, there are some ways we can soften and even prevent the tole it takes on our skin. From this 49-year-old plastic surgeon’s perspective, Haute Beauty expert Dr. Alina Sholar would like to share her knowledge of the different stages of aging, as well as some of the do’s and don’ts to ensure you age well and with grace.

In Your 20’s: An Ounce of Prevention…

Most patients in this age group aren’t yet showing signs of aging, but now is the time to take advantage of youth before collagen is lost. At this age, patients are generally looking for ways to prevent getting lines and wrinkles later on. Taking steps to prevent UV damage and induced collagen loss during your 20s can save you time, money, and angst later in life. Here are some do’s and don’ts for preventative aging during these years:

  • DON’T smoke. Smoking and vaping accelerate your skin’s aging process by breaking down collagen and elastin.
  • DON’T tan. UV exposure, whether directly from the sun or a tanning bed, is the biggest cause of wrinkles and brown spots, later on, so minimize your time spent in direct sunlight and avoid tanning beds.
  • DO get good sleep. There’s a reason they call it “beauty sleep!" Getting a good night’s sleep promotes skin cell turnover and optimal collagen production.
  • DO wash your face. Twice daily gentle cleansing will remove age-inducing inflammatory irritants, sebum, and free radical-creating environmental pollutants.
  • DO use SPF. Sunscreen is the most important thing you can do for your skin now to slow the aging process.

The 30’s: Coming Into Your Own (Fine Lines and Wrinkles, that is)

Patients in their 30s and 40s are just beginning to see the faintest impression of lines and wrinkles forming, so they are now looking for more than the basic moisturizer and SPF. It’s this age where I have patients starting to take skincare more seriously, seeking out medical grade and physician-directed products, and beginning to get treatments such as gentle lasers, fillers,  and Botox.

  • DON’T go in the sun… because you can ruin all that beautiful new collagen you’ve made with one small sunburn.
  • DO get Botox for the prevention of fine lines and wrinkles. For patients in their 30s, I like to inject smaller doses of Botox strategically. This is an approach dubbed “Baby Botox," where I customize each treatment toward each patient’s unique concerns, with the forehead and glabella being the most common areas I treat in this age group.
  • DO choose the right injector. Although Botox is relatively straightforward, there are still risks, so it’s important that you choose a board-certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist to perform your injections with knowledge and expertise so you get the results you want.
  • DO upgrade your skincare routine with medical-grade products. While sunblock is the most essential component of healthy skin aging, we help patients find the products that best fit their unique skin needs, focusing on achieving a healthy and physiologically happy lipid bilayer barrier and added antioxidant protection.
  • DO start depositing collagen to the “bank.” Microneedling, laser facials, and light exfoliative treatments are the perfect places to start the induction of collagen-building. Laying down a foundation of strong, healthy collagen sets you up in the future for looking younger at any age. Around the age of 30, you will lose approximately 1% of your skin’s collagen per year. So, the earlier you start this process, the younger you will look well into your 40s and 50s as collagen loss speeds up.

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The 40s & Early 50s: The Generation for Regeneration

During their 40s and early 50s, people begin to experience more wrinkling and a rapid loss of skin elasticity. Sun damage from decades past will rear its ugly head, with new brown spots (thus, the term “age spots”) popping up on those sun-exposed areas. These years are where a regular anti-aging skincare product regimen and a routine of skincare treatments are paramount to restore lost volume, replenish lost skin plumpness and elasticity, and remove surface textural changes and dyspigmentation.  Do this well in these years and you can look great without resorting to surgery.

  • DON’T be afraid of fillers. Dermal fillers are used to restore volume that we naturally lose as we get older. Find a plastic surgeon or dermatologist who appreciates natural beauty and knows how to make the most out of fillers. The artistry and anatomical expertise of these physicians mean that you are less likely to look overdone, overstuffed, or “alienized.” My approach with fillers is to first discover what you as the patient wants to improve, then choose the specific filler and its anatomic placement that will best deliver your desired result. After the first injections, we will reconvene in a few weeks to assess your initial results and, if needed, plan your next visit.
  • DO ramp up your collagen deposition. At this age, you should be doing at least one big collagen-inducing procedure, or series of the procedure, each year. RF Microneedling, such as the VirtueRF, is the mainstay for boosting collagen and elastin. Like regular microneedling, it creates micro-wounds (micro-channels) in your skin, but the insulated needles also deliver radiofrequency energy to the skin, heating its deep layers to encourage collagen and elastin growth and tissue tightening from deep within, with the goal being to replace the collagen at a faster rate than you are losing it. This visibly healthier skin continues to improve in the months following your treatment. Patients often remark about how great their immediate results are, but the real beauty is that the final results continue evolving from six months to one year.
  • DO fill your bowl with lots of colorful fruits and vegetables, plus healthy proteins and fats. Since metabolism slows with age, it’s critical to eat sources rich in protein to protect muscle mass and prevent unnecessary weight gain. Eggs, skinless chicken and turkey breasts, and fish are all excellent sources of protein that are easy to consume. Healthy fats from “superfoods”  like almonds, walnuts, avocado, and salmon are rich in fats and vitamins required by the skin to maintain its barrier function and stability, and to remain hydrated and looking its best.

The 50s & 60s: Time to Treat Yourself

We are living longer, healthier, more vibrant lives well into our Golden Years. The 50s and 60s are the decades to treat ourselves so we enjoy how we look well into our 70s and even 80s. Patients are increasingly beginning to seek both surgical and non-surgical procedures in their 50s and 60s, having typically lost elasticity and developed deeper wrinkles, folds, and skin looseness.

  • DON’T go in the sun… because it bears repeating. As we age, our skin cells’ DNA loses its ability to heal itself and skin cancers emerge predominately in this age group.
  • DO use physician-directed anti-aging skincare on a daily basis. We know from studies that an effective anti-aging skincare product regimen should at a minimum include human growth factors, a retinoid, and an antioxidant entourage, including an esterified vitamin C, vitamin E, and coQ10.
  • DO start resurfacing. Laser skin resurfacing is the gold standard for eliminating wrinkles, fine lines, and sun damage from the superficial layers of the skin. I use the DEKA Tetra CO2 laser at my practice because it’s highly effective for maximum results with minimal downtime. This combined with the VirtueRF microneedling is especially good for treating crepey skin, a common problem for many patients in their 50s and 60s. Patients are amazed at the substantial changes they see with a considerable improvement in photodamage, pore size, texture, hyperpigmentation, and skin elasticity.
  • DO consider a little downtime as it's not a bad thing. Non-surgical ablative lasers and Subnovii plasma technology and surgical procedures are sometimes required to get the final end result that patients are looking for. Neglected skin and larger amounts of excess skin around the neck and jawline will more likely require surgery and yield improvements in a way that lasers and fillers simply can’t. However, if started young enough with the lasers and energy-based devices mentioned earlier, one can foreseeably forego facelifts altogether. The Subnovii can deliver non-invasive blepharoplasty results in just one or two in-office treatments with about a week of light downtime. These procedures are not only able to turn the clock back years on signs of facial aging, but they also position patients to age gracefully and naturally going forward.
  • DON’T stress about aging too much. Stress forces the skin aging process into hyper-drive. Follow the plan outlined here and you can prevent and reverse aging to look great for years to come.

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