What causes wrinkles?

We develop two types of wrinkles on our faces:

Dynamic Wrinkles
We are born with dynamic wrinkles, which are associated with the muscles we use for facial expression. As we continuously use our facial muscles to smile, laugh and squint, mild wrinkles appear when we are young, but they become deeper and more noticeable as we grow older. The most common areas where we develop dynamic wrinkles are around the lips, the corners of the eyelids (where the wrinkles are known as crows’ feet), between the eyebrows and on the forehead. These wrinkles often make people look older and more tired than they actually are. Botox can be used to treat these dynamic wrinkles and make them less noticeable.

Crepe-Paper Wrinkles
Crepe-paper wrinkles are caused by sun exposure and aging. As we age or are repeatedly exposed to the sun, collagen (the protein substance found just beneath and within the deep layers of the skin) begins to thin, causing facial skin to stretch and sag. Unfortunately, Botox cannot treat crepe-paper wrinkles. However, there are other procedures that may be used to reduce the appearance of crepe- paper wrinkles.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
We all know that wrinkles generally don't look all that good -- not in dress shirts and not on your skin. In fact, one main indicator of body aging is wrinkles, especially vertical lines above the lips and between the eyes (each of these stereotypically mean different things; cigarettes and inflammation in your blood vessels cause lip wrinkles, while vertical lines between eyes reflect stress).

How do we get wrinkles? In a couple of ways, actually. Since skin is attached to the muscle beneath it, your skin creases when your muscles move. Over time, that creates a well-worn groove. It's actually like a stress fracture -- the repeated bending of skin over the underlying muscle creates inflammation and the collagen gets squeezed together.

Young skin stretches and recoils over the muscle, but thinned, old skin loses this ability. And, like an over-bent piece of cardboard, it eventually cracks. As we get older, the connections between the skin and underlying connective tissue stretch out, which can cause sagging of the skin. When that happens, gravity pulls down, and the sagging contributes to the formation of wrinkles.

Ultimately, wrinkles are caused by thinned, damaged collagen and a loss of elastin fibers (think of it as a kind of stress fracture). When skin loses its elasticity, gravity pulls down, and the sagging causes even more wrinkles.

As we age, our bodies stop producing collagen, a protein that maintains skin's firmness. Less collagen means wrinkles. Smoking and sun exposure accelerate collagen loss, so not smoking and using sunscreen are two ways to keep wrinkles at bay.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.