As women age, a growing fear lurks on the horizon: Menopause. Horror stories passed down from our mothers and sitcom punchlines have made modern woman dread this impending time. But fear not. With understanding and new medical findings, menopause doesn’t have to mean the end of one’s youth.
Menopause is a time when estrogen levels begin to decline. For most women, this occurs on average around the mid 50’s. Although estrogen receptors are found throughout the body, the highest density of receptors is found on the skin, perineum and lower limbs. Decreases in estrogen levels will cause a variety of changes to our body. First of all, during menopause our skin produces less collagen and elastic fibers, which can promote wrinkles. The lessening of collagen can lead to thinner, more fragile skin. The decrease in collagen strength can give way to gravity, causing tissue descent along the face, eyes, and neck. In addition, fat will tend to atrophy, causing further thinning of skin. The decrease in fat can demonstrate itself throughout the face making an older face look gaunt, as opposed to the plumpness associated with a more youthful face. Postmenopausal skin produces less sebum and oil, which leads to dryer skin.
Fortunately, there are a plethora of solutions which specifically can target postmenopausal aging. Each patient requires an individualized approach to maximize the benefit for their concern. Directly addressing the lower level of estrogen can with supplements can be an effective method of maintaining collagen. The effects of estrogen replacement as well as hormone therapy is complex and controversial, especially due to its effects on other organ systems.
Due to the fragility of the skin, sunscreens are especially important at this age. Many patients also report the need for increased moisturizer to help with skin which can become dryer. Daily therapeutic skin regimens can be an effective ways of maintaining the structural elements of skin. Most ideal regimens include the use of topical retinoids and growth factors to promote collagen and younger looking skin.
The use of fat transfer, facial fillers, or stem cell injections can help restore youthful contours to the face as well as restore some of the plumpness lost with age. Fat transfers and stem cell injections can facilitate the influx of cytokine and other growth factors to the skin to help restore a youthful component to the structural element of the skin. Tissues of the face and neck which have descended with gravity and loss of collagen and elastin fibers can be resuspended with the use of a face or neck lift.
While menopause is a natural, normal part of a women’s life, our understanding of its effects on the face and aging is becoming more clear. Innovative approaches over the last several years have helped enable women to restore, maintain a healthy, more youthful appearing face without many of stigma of older, outdated techniques. It is okay to accept your age, but you don’t have to look it.