Harvey Austin
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Our Faces Age Three Ways
How does Yours Age?
Classic Series...Number 4spacer gif

by Harvey H. Austin, MD

"Most patients tell us we improved their wrinkling about 75%"
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AFTERspacer gif
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spacer gifLast time we spoke of drooping and how plastic surgeons improve it. Now let's talk about a second type of aging … and what plastic surgeons can do about it.


spacer gifIf your grandparents were wrinklers, you probably will be, too.

spacer gifWhat we mean by wrinkling is the same thing you mean — the deepening lines within the skin you can see when your face is at rest. We don't mean the active expression lines we all have when we smile or frown.

spacer gifMost wrinkles fall between two extremes. Fine wrinkles are velvety and show up on the lower eyelids, around the lips ("my lipstick runs") and between the brows. The very deep ones are fixed and do not "pull flat" when the skin is stretched, like the fine wrinkles do. They show up where the expression muscles have creased the skin, particularly in skin which has lost its elasticity. We develop these first in the forehead, then around the mouth and between the brows and, finally, all over the cheeks, especially with advanced age. One woman said, "My face looks like a prune — just like my mom's."

spacer gifYour particular kind of wrinkling is usually inherited. All wrinkles deepen with the passing years and will be speeded by sun, smoking and alcohol.

Facial Rejuvenation: Resurfacing

spacer gifCosmetic surgical techniques are getting better for wrinklers.

spacer gifWe treat fine wrinkling by resurfacing the skin via one of these techniques: dermabrasion, chemical peel, laser or heat-wiping. All remove the old layers of skin so the skin looks younger and smoother.

spacer gifDermabrasion uses a rotating wire brush or diamond wheel; the chemical peel burns the outer layers with acids; laser and heat-wiping by a controlled heat-burn. In fact, the Austin-Weston Center is the originator of the heat-wiping technique.

spacer gifDeep wrinkling is a little harder to treat. In addition to the techniques for fine wrinkling, we may also treat these by: stretching the skin, "threading" strips of your tissue underneath or by injecting fat or collagen. Occasionally, we trim out those wrinkles which have become deep furrows — like the smile lines beside the mouth — trading them for fine-line scars. We often need to combine two or more techniques to get the best result.

The Upside / The Downside

spacer gifThese techniques work well. Most patients tell us we improved their wrinkling about 75% — sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on a variety of factors. We don’t dare to go for 100% of the wrinkles because the color of your skin might lighten too much or you might scar or look oddly tight. Most people want to look natural.

spacer gifYou will have a burning sensation for the first few days, varying from "awful" to "hardly anything". After your procedure, we have you wash and put ointments on the superficial raw area for five to seven days until the thin crust washes away.

spacer gifYour new skin is quite red, taking one to four months to fade. Good makeup technique conceals it. How sensitive it feels and how long it stays pink depends more upon your particular skin than upon which technique we use. Occasionally the treated area darkens; it's temporary and we treat it with bleaching agents.

spacer gifFor the first few weeks, a little swelling within the skin makes your early result look somewhat better than it will when healing is complete. Even though some wrinkles will return as your skin continues to age, you will always look better than if you hadn't had it done.

spacer gifA word on lasers. Plastic surgeons are hoping laser techniques will prove to be easier on you and more effective. We have only been using lasers to treat wrinkling for a year or two — not long enough to really know. At present it is more expensive than the other techniques. So far, some patients are not as impressed with the results as they had hoped … and some are. It's still early.

Together, you and our surgeons choose which techniques are best for your particular type of aging and for your kind of skin. If your face both droops and wrinkles, as is often the case, we can design your facial rejuvenation to improve both at the same time.

spacer gifThe combination of an artistic and experienced surgeon, you as an informed patient … and time … can yield lovely results for you.

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Harvey W. Austin, MD
Box 1470
Berlin MD 21811

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