We pay hundreds of dollars for skin-care products that promise the world, but no matter how diligent we are with applying them daily and in the proper order, will they ever really deliver on their life-changing claims?
According to the experts, skin-care products absolutely have their benefits—”Skin-care products exfoliate and improve glow and texture,” says Duxbury, MA plastic surgeon Christine Hamori, MD—but they also have their limits. Here, two age-related issues experts say no amount of skincare will, sadly, ever fix.
Tighten Slack Skin
Microcurrent devices and tightening skin-care products can help in the skin-firming department temporarily, but New York facial plastic surgeon Matthew White, MD says the real issue is far below the surface where skin-care formulas can’t help. “Unfortunately, the one thing that fillers, Botox and skincare will not help is age-related changes to our facial ligaments,” he says.
Ligaments are fibrous rope-like structures filled with dense collagen that live in three main areas of the face to hold its shape: the angle of the jaw, the jowl area and over the cheekbones. “As we near our mid 40s, these ligaments begin to break down and stretch out,” says Dr. White. The only way to tighten and repair the ligaments back to their youthful state—and truly re-drape now slack skin—is with a facelift or lower facelift, targeting these very ligaments.
To test if your ligaments are aging—and get a glimpse of what a rejuvenated face could look like after surgery—Dr. White suggests a “Ligament Lookdown Test,” which involves nothing but your smartphone.
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First, pull your hair up and away from your face. Next, take a selfie while you are completely bent at the waist (your body should be at a 90-degree angle). Once you’ve taken the selfie, return to an upright position and bend your head and neck backwards as if you were stargazing. Take another selfie here, then compare your two photos. “If they are the same, you’re off the hook for now. But if looking upwards significantly changed your facial shape, you are getting a preliminary sense of what it would look like to lift these ligaments to maintain the shape and structure of your face,” says Dr. White.
Fix Undereye Bags and Hollows
An eye cream that promises to de-puff bags and brighten darkened undereyes sounds lovely, but Dr. Hamori says that when it comes to the reduction of lower eyelid fat protrusion, aka undereye bags, surgery is the only true solution.
Eyelid surgery, known as blepharoplasty, can be performed either on the upper or lower eyelid to remove excess skin and/or fat from the eyelids. The procedure is quick and can be done while you are awake, mildly sedated or under anesthesia, depending on the patient and case. Downtime is anywhere from 1-2 weeks for upper blepharoplasty; a lower blepharoplasty requires 2-3 weeks.
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If your concern is hollowness around the eyes, which often contributes to dark circles that no amount of concealer can cover, Dr. Hamori says filler can make quite the difference in periorbital hollows by supporting the cheek and tear trough.
What Skincare Can Do
However, this isn’t to say you should give up on your skincare. In fact, Dr. Hamori says to stay the course. “Studies have shown that apparent age is influenced more by skin quality and texture than by facial contour. In other words, a 60 year old woman with age spots related to chronic sun exposure will always appear older than a 55 year old with good skin, even though they both have jowls and neck skin laxity. Skin care can protect us from the sun and slowly and steadily reverse some of the changes.”