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Skin & Ageing

Skin And Ageing

Skin & Ageing

The skin is the largest organ in the human body. It protects us from the often harsh environment surrounding us, regulates our temperature and gathers information for us about our surroundings. It is made from three layers – the epidermis, the dermis and the subcutaneous tissue.

The epidermis is the visible outer layer of the skin. It varies in thickness throughout the body with the thinnest area being around the eyes where it is approximately 0.5mm thick. The epidermis is made of 5 layers:

  • stratum basale
  • stratum spinosum
  • stratum granulosum
  • stratum licidum
  • stratum corneum

There are 3 main types of cells in the epidermis – Keratinocytes (skin cells), Melanocytes (produce pigment) and Langerhans cells (immune cells.) Immediately below the epidermis is the basesment membrane which separates the Epidermis from the Dermis.

The Dermis is the supportive layer of the skin and contains collagen and elastin, as well as carrying the nerves and blood vessels of the skin. It varies in thickness from 0.3mm to 3mm. There are 5 main types of cells in the dermis-mast cells, smooth muscle cells, specialised muscle cells, fibroblasts and immune cells.

The Subcutaneous tissue is the layer of fat below the dermis. It contains mainly fat cells, nerves and blood vessels.

Understanding these layers is an important part of assessing the face prior to dermal fillers as superficial lines only require fillers into the superficial, or upper part of the dermis, deep lines and wrinkles require product placement in the mid dermis and areas requiring volumisation are injected into the deep dermis. Botox® is not injected into the skin, it is an intra-muscular injection.

As we age, we lose muscle tone in the face, and the skin becomes thinner and drier. Sub-cutaneous fat is lost so the smooth plump appearance of youth diminishes. Younger faces have prominent cheeks with the lower eyelid blending seamlessly with the cheek. In addition to this there is a pad of fat (the malar fat pad) sitting above the cheek bone which provides smoothness and contour – it drops as we age so the cheeks can appear gaunt. This fat pad then sits close to the nasolabial fold making this crease appear deeper.

There are 2 types of ageing which occurs-intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic ageing is as a result of genetics. Extrinsic is due to outside influences such as wind, sunshine and cigarette smoking.

There are 3 main types of lines or wrinkles. The first is sleep lines. These are caused by scrunching of the facial tissue during sleep. These lines cannot be improved with Botox®, but dermal fillers can be of benefit. The next are Gravity lines, which as the name suggests are lines caused by the pull of gravity over time. Again this type of line will not improve with Botox®, Dermal fillers are the treatment of choice. The final type of line is Dynamic lines which are caused by repeated contracture of the muscle beneath the skin. This type of line is perfect for treatment with Botox®, and can also be improved by Dermal Fillers. Doctor Lynn Aesthetics offer both of these treatments.

Author Info

Dr Lynn Kelly

Doctor Lynn Kelly graduated from Aberdeen Medical School in 1999 and qualified as a GP in 2004. She is currently working as a GP in an Inverness practice which she joined in 2006.