Heart of Texas Eye Institute is proud to introduce the addition of aesthetics medicine to our clinic’s service offerings. Led by Sonja Cortez Dieterichs MD who has over 19 years of experience as a surgeon, ophthalmologist, and medical aesthetician, we will provide our patients with personalized plans to slow the aging process and improve health, lifestyle, and appearance through proven medical treatments and recommendations.
What Is Anti-Aging Science and Medicine?
Anti-aging science and medicine is a broad term that encompasses the application of medical and scientific technologies to help combat age-related disorders, dysfunction, or diseases. It is scientific, evidence-based, and has become an invaluable resource for those looking to address issues related to aging within both their overall health and outward appearance. Although aesthetic improvements are not integral to foundational health, it does help to achieve a more youthful appearance which can improve confidence, mindset, and overall enjoyment of everyday life.
Factors of Advanced Aging
Of course, we cannot stop Father Time and the aging process is inevitable. However, by understanding some of the key factors of advanced aging, and by adopting a healthy lifestyle, we can consciously make better decisions that may help to slow the aging process.
- Smoking and Drinking: While it is widely known that smoking and drinking in excess over time can lead to health issues and an unhealthy lifestyle, they can also speed up the aging process and have a visible effect on the body. For instance, smoking reduces the blood flow to your skin, reducing the accessibility of oxygen and nutrients. Tobacco smoke also reduces the elasticity and integrity of the skin by causing damage to its collagen and elastin.
Heavy alcohol consumption will actually dehydrate the body which can result in accelerating the skin-aging process. This includes the expediting of wrinkles, purple capillaries, puffiness, and dryness of skin on the face.
- Weather Exposure and Climate: Also known as ‘environmental aging’, extended exposure to intense climate conditions can speed up the aging process. This is especially true in ultra-dry conditions as heat and sun exposure can accelerate and cause wrinkles, uneven skin tones, and age spots – especially when proper skincare is not used regularly.
- Diet: What you consume regularly over time can have a positive or negative effect on the aging process. We do know that sugar is incredibly detrimental to skin health, as it can damage collagen and elastin – causing it to be more brittle and susceptible to wrinkles. On the flip side, nutrient-rich foods with antioxidants can keep our skin healthier for longer because they prevent or delay-free radicals from damaging healthy cells.
- Weight: Unhealthy weight on both ends of the spectrum can speed up the aging process through a variety of adverse health effects. When it comes to appearance, an underweight person may not have an ideal amount of natural fat within their facial structure. This can contribute to sagging skin or the appearance of wrinkles. Alternatively, a person carrying extra weight may look older because of a lack of defined muscle tone.
- Stress: Stress can speed up the aging process because it can add years to the age of individual immune cells. A study from UC San Francisco suggested that ‘the mere anticipation of a stressful situation may increase a person’s risk for age-related diseases’. Stress can also affect a person’s ability to maintain a healthy diet, get adequate exercise, or make positive decisions. Because of this, stress can be a stifling factor that can result in poor health and advanced aging.
- Movement: Exercise is incredibly important for overall health and well-being, but it can also be an effective tool for combating aging. Aside from the toning and weight loss that may accompany a regular exercise routine, one study suggests that exercise may be crucial to slowing the aging process of the skin and maintaining a vibrant appearance.
- Attitude: The mindset a person adopts can impact the rate of aging they experience. One’s attitude and mental state can influence the aforementioned factors of movement and stress, impacting their overall health and in turn the aging process and outward appearance.
Rejuvenating Yourself With Lifestyle Changes
With the above factors of advanced aging in mind, it is important to identify areas for improvement and to commit to healthy and rejuvenating lifestyle changes. As we approach our late thirties and beyond, however, a healthy lifestyle may not always be adequate to deliver the results you are looking for, and aesthetic doctors and surgeons can be a helpful supplemental resource. When positive lifestyle changes are used in tandem with medical aesthetics, patients can be the best version of themselves while being healthier and happier. Some quick recommendations to get going in the right direction:
- Eat Clean: Break free from the empty calories and short-lived energy boosts of processed and “junk” foods, and adopt a diet that thrives on real food. Eating clean revolves around the approach of eating food that is whole, unrefined, without additives or preservatives, and typically absent of artificial coloring, flavoring, or sugar substitutes. While this may be drastically different for many of us, the benefits of following this nutritional guide can be significant. Beyond general weight management, eating clean should improve energy levels, mental well-being, skin clarity, hair strength, and sleep quality.
- Increase Water Intake: Staying hydrated with adequate water consumption can be highly beneficial for overall health. Proper hydration helps muscles and joints perform better, cleanses the body by flushing out toxins, and even promotes cardiovascular health. While drinking water will not hold off wrinkles from forming, adequate hydration does ensure proper elasticity of the skin.
- Daily Exercise: Get moving! The Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week. The potential benefits are extensive, but with daily exercise, one can expect to have better sleep, more energy, a better mood, and better control of weight and health conditions. This all adds up to a healthier overall state which will help to slow some effects of aging.
- Combat the Sun: Most of us love to get outside to enjoy the warmth of the sun, however not enough of us take the proper precautions to keep our skin protected when venturing outside. Sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 should be worn every day in all weather conditions and in every season. It should also be “broad-spectrum”, which indicates that the sunscreen protects against UVA and UVB rays from the sun. Sunglasses should also be worn to protect the eyes and the skin around it. These two things alone can drastically reduce the risk of skin cancer and general sun-damage to the skin.
- Manage the Stress: Finding ways to manage stress is very important for overall health and the enjoyment of everyday life. Stress can impact all facets of life negatively if left unmanaged and can cause people to be more susceptible to illnesses. Everyone should find ways to manage stress that are effective to them, whether that be through exercise, meditation, breathing exercises, or otherwise. Sleep is also key to optimizing the ability to manage stress and keep it at healthy levels.
What Is The “Cross-Linking” Aging Process?
We have previously mentioned the benefits of avoiding sugar consumption, as sugar can damage collagen and elastin in the skin and also impacts the aging process. Adding on to this, we know that when a diet has too high of a glycemic index (too much sugar in the blood) the natural aging process is sped up.
This is part of the cross-linking theory of aging, which poses the idea that DNA, proteins, and other structural molecules develop “cross-links” (or counterproductive attachments) to one another. When this occurs, the affected molecules do not function properly and can cause tissues to become stiffer and lose functionality. This state can contribute to deep-set wrinkles and a “browning” effect on the skin via age spots. Researchers believe that cross-linking primarily occurs when the concentration of sugar in the blood is too high, so avoiding sugar can help keep your body healthy and aging at a slower pace.
Medical Aesthetic Treatments
Now that we have covered some of the basics regarding factors and lifestyle choices that can affect aging, we can take a look at some of the medical aesthetic treatments we offer. These treatments should be used in tandem with general health strategies for a holistic approach to wellness and maintaining a youthful appearance.
Muscle relaxants are made up of a protein (obtained from a bacterium) that helps reduce the appearance of dynamic lines and wrinkles created by muscle movement. This is better known as Botox neurotoxin. The injection of muscle relaxants is intended to reduce hypertrophy (the enlargement of an organ or tissue from the increase in the size of its cells), reduce movement, and smooth out or reduce the severity of wrinkles. Wrinkles and lines form on the face naturally after many years of contractions from facial muscles from any variety of expressions. Typical locations for muscle relaxant injections are the forehead and brow (to reduce frown lines), around the mouth (to reduce fine lines on the upper lip), around the eyes (to reduce “crow’s feet”), and the neck (to reduce neck lines or banding).
Results from injecting muscle relaxants are visible almost immediately after the quick and relatively painless procedure. The results from the muscle relaxant treatments are not permanent, however, they will last for several months. It is common for patients to return for a maintenance session after six months after their previous muscle relaxant treatment, but the necessary amount of time between sessions will vary from patient to patient.
Facial and Lip Fillers
Other effective injectable treatments to consider are facial and lip fillers. Much of the visible signs of aging can be attributed to the general loss of volume. With that in mind, these fillers are derived from Hyaluronic acid and are used to smooth out lines and creases in the face, enhance lips with additional shape and volume, and present an overall more youthful appearance. Hyaluronic acid is naturally found in the skin, and is responsible for giving skin a plump and hydrated look. By injecting the Hyaluronic acid, it can help restore volume and also replenish the body’s natural production of the acid (which diminishes with age). Our process helps patients get natural-looking results that restore patient’s features to their ideal state.
The duration of how long the fillers will retain their results can vary depending on the area of treatment and the patient, however, the procedure can be repeated as needed and adjusted to deliver optimal results. Unlike Botox which relaxes facial muscles, fillers work to fill in areas of the face that have lost volume. While Botox and facial and lip fillers are completely separate treatments that can be done individually, they can work well together to address different aging issues.
It is common for signs of aging to appear on the face, with issues such as wrinkles, lines, and saggy skin (to name a few). Skin contouring aims to smooth out skin and remove wrinkles and fine lines to help correct these signs of aging. The process involves heating the dermal tissue with both bi-polar radio frequency and light energies. This helps to stimulate collagen production at the point of treatment. The end result is a reduction in fine wrinkles, improved facial contours, and an overall improvement in the skin’s tightness, complexion, and quality. This procedure is virtually painless, fast, and has a very low risk of side effects.
Spa Brow Lift
The forehead and brow can be problem areas when it comes to aging. As we age, wrinkles often become more prevalent on the forehead and brow. Besides the impact this has on general appearance, wrinkles in this area can cause a misinterpretation or uncertainty of perceived emotions from facial expressions. A perpetually wrinkled brow or forehead may inaccurately convey anger, sadness, fatigue, or stress. A brow lift can be an excellent option for those who have a low, sagging brow or brow asymmetry.
During a brow lift, an incision will be made near the hairline and a small amount of skin will be removed in the process. The brow skin is then lifted to close the gap, causing the forehead and any associated frown or brow lines to be smoothed out in the process. Brow lifts can also make a noticeable difference with age issues such as sagging upper-eyelids, crow’s feet, and sagging jowls, making this an effective procedure to address a variety of problem areas.
While the brow-lift technique used may vary depending on the desired outcome, the patient will likely be placed under general anesthesia, rendering them unconscious until after the procedure is over. Although healing may take several weeks to complete, the patient should have a significantly more youthful appearance for many years to come as a result of the lift.
As an alternative to the surgical brow-lift, we also offer liquid facelifts that provide many of the same benefits but are shorter-term solutions. The liquid facelift procedure involves the injection of dermal fillers into the skin to add volume, literally filling up space in the layers of skin in deflated areas. This helps to reduce sagging and minimize the presence of wrinkles. Liquid facelifts can also be used to fill cheeks if they appear gaunt, reduce the appearance of scars, and reduce the hollow areas under the eyes.
Liquid facelifts are relatively painless, as local anesthetic may be provided to numb areas at the point of injection. Results will be visible immediately and can last anywhere between six and 24 months. This procedure is ideal for those who have a relatively small amount of wrinkles or sagging, and those with more advanced aging features may be better off pursuing surgical facelifts. Liquid facelifts are often favored over traditional facelifts because they are cheaper, can offer more subtle changes, have less recovery time, and typically result in less bruising.
Come See Us!
So many factors are involved in the aging process, but there are many positive choices we can make to optimize our health and appearance over time. While we cannot prevent aging, there are many things we can do to slow down its effects. Our aesthetic medicine offerings are here to help you look and feel your best. We want our patients to be full of confidence and loving life, and we are here to provide you with a personalized plan to address the lifestyle or aging issues you are experiencing. Through our knowledge of medical aesthetics, we can address various problem areas related to aging to reinvigorate your appearance and help you look as young as you feel.
If you have considered using aesthetic medicine to counter the effects of aging, we would love to discuss the options that might make the most sense to achieve the results you are looking for. Contact us today for a free consultation and get started on a plan that is tailored to your specific needs at Heart of Texas Eye Institute.