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Aging Well
Skin Health

Don't Sabotage Your Skin's Appearance

Age is not the only cause of wrinkles and neither is genetics. Lifestyle and beauty habits can also exacerbate the aging process.

But the good news is that you can help your appearance by changing your habits, Dr. Mirwat Sami, a Houston Board-certified Ophthalmologist specializing in Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, shares some smart strategies to stop yourself from becoming a “skin saboteur.”


You might get a good night’s sleep on your sides and tummy, but you’re unnecessarily stressing your skin, Sami explains. Fetal and tummy positions cause uneven blood circulation, which locks up nourishment, blood, and oxygen on some parts of your body while depriving other body parts, including skin, and causing it to become wrinkled. “Not only do these sleeping positions cause wrinkles,” Sami says, “poor blood circulation causes fluids to be stuck around your eyes. This contributes to the formation of eye bags and dark under eye circles that make you look tired and older. Additionally, sleeping on the face or on one side can result in worsening of age-related descent of our features. I can usually tell which side my patients sleep on because there is more flattening and deflation of the face on that side.”


Many of us spend a fortune on anti-aging products, yet we may regularly accelerate skin aging without even being aware of it. The central heating and air conditioning systems that many of us use at home and at work can severely dry out skin, leading to premature aging and wrinkles. To help keep skin youthful and soft, try turning down the heating and wearing more layers to stay warm. “Keeping a glass of water in the room can also increase humidity, while wearing a protective face cream can help relieve dryness,” Sami says.


Tobacco is ranked only second to sun exposure as the leading cause of wrinkles. Sami explains that “It interferes with the absorption of Vitamin A and C, both of which provide us with skin protection. This is because nicotinepromotes dehydration. It also narrows the blood vessels in the outermost layers of the skin. This impairs blood flow, depleting it of oxygen and nutrients such as Vitamin A. It also damages collagen and elastin. Additionally, smoking also the healing process due to its effect on blood vessels. The heat from the cigarette causes irritation around the eyes and forces the smoker to squint more. This leads to increased wrinkles especially around the eyes. You will also develop hollowed cheeks around the mouth from many years of dragging this in between your lips.”


Eating too much sugar is clearly bad news for your waistline; however sugar consumption is also up there with sun exposure and smoking when it comes to the major causes of wrinkles. “When blood sugar levels are high ”says Sami, “a process called glycation occurs, which damages the collagen in your skin. Once damaged, the normally springy collagen hardens, leading to wrinkles and sagging.”


All alcohol dehydrates the skin. This means your skin will appear less plump and fresh the morning after you drink alcohol. Over time, your skin will lose elasticity and form wrinkles due to a lack of hydration. “Additionally, alcohol can have a huge negative impact on your vitamin A level, which is a very important antioxidant for your skin and body, and it is vital in the regeneration of new cells,” Sami says. “Vitamin A is also extremely important in the production of collagen. When you have lower amounts of collagen, you lose elasticity in your skin.” Collagen and elasticity keep your skin supple, taut, and looking young.


“Gum chewing produces a type of wrinkle that I see quite often on the lower mouth,” says Sami. This is an easy habit to give up in the name of preserving your skin.


When you sleep in your makeup, you’re basically asking for wrinkles. The makeup and environmental pollutants you accumulate during the day seep into your pores, breaking down collagen and elastin. This can speed up the aging process and leave you with fine lines and wrinkles. “Cleanse and moisturize your skin every night before bed,” Sami cautions.


This practice creates wrinkles—and is generally frowned upon in the makeup world. “You should do your makeup how everyone else is going to see you, and hopefully it’s not with your mouth stretched open and eyebrows lifted so you can put on your mascara,” Sami explains “Don’t pull on your eyes and stretch them so you can put on your eyeliner. It’s about moving your whole face when you’re applying makeup, not stretching it so it’s flat.”


We’ve all been told to never skip the sunscreen, but it’s often tempting when many of us spend our days indoors. Still, even a few minutes of sun exposure can lead to a breakdown of collagen, though, and that leads to fine lines and wrinkles. “Wear sunscreen every day, rain or shine, so that you don’t get sun damage. Choose an SPF 30 and one that has zinc oxide or titanium dioxide,” Sami advises.

Dr. Mirwat Sami is one of a handful of physicians across the country uniquely qualified to treat both medical  and cosmetic problems of the face around the eyes. Her specialized training in ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgery help Sami provide her patients with unique and individualized treatment for their facial concerns. For more on her work, visit www.houstonoculofacial.com.

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