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The Menopause, Oestrogen and Ageing Skin

Updated: Apr 29, 2022

Exploring how menopause impacts skin ageing

Ageing is an inevitable process and it is a great privilege to age and one that we are thankful for. As we embrace ageing, its important that we consider internal and external factors that age us, in order to support our skin to minimise the effects of these factors and to maintain our best skin, thus promoting our confidence and self-esteem. One of the internal factors that accelerate skin ageing in women is the menopause, due to the decrease in oestrogen levels produced by the body. These decreases effect our skin cells, having an impact on our skin structure and potential for damage due to drier, thinner skin with less elasticity and firmness.

The common impacts on the skin during menopause

During menopause, women will experience skin that is drier, thinner, more susceptible to sun damage and will they will notice fine lines and wrinkles developing. One of the main reasons for this is that oestrogen is responsible for promoting skin hydration and stimulating the production of hyaluronic acid (HA) and ceramides within the skin's layers. HA is one of our natural moisturising factors and is hydrophilic. This means it loves water and attracts and holds water within the skin, resulting in skin that is plump and hydrated. Lower levels of HA will result in less water being held within the dermis and therefore skin looking and feeling drier. Ceramides are lipids (fats) that also help hydrate the skin by retaining moisture and creating a healthy skin barrier. In addition to the decrease in oestrogen, menopausal women will also suffer from a drop in testosterone. Testosterone is responsible for producing sebum, another natural moisturising factor, and this too impacts on the levels of hydration and lubrication menopausal skin has.

A decrease in oestrogen results in the skin becoming thinner, mostly due to a reduction in the amount of natural collagen our bodies are producing and a greater destruction of the collagen already in the skin. As we age, our cells age too, and are less efficient at reproducing, again having an impact on the depth and strength of our skin. Post menopausal skin can have up to 30% less collagen than pre-menopausal skin and will be thinning by a rate of approximately 1% per year. These decreases result in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and, when combined with a reduction in skin elasticity as well, are a real challenge when taking steps to minimise the signs of ageing on menopausal skin.

Oestrogen also offers our skin a protective factor against sun damage, due to it being a powerful antioxidant. If care is not taken to protect the skin from the harmful, ageing effects of the sun, these reduced levels of oestrogen will result in increased sun damage, results of which are deeper wrinkles, skin that has reduced laxity, sun damage blemishes (age spots) and an uneven complexion.

So how can we fight back and reclaim our skin confidence?

Firstly, the cause of these ageing factors needs to be addressed, and that is the fall in levels of oestrogen in the body. The most common way to do this is to have Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). HRT comes in may forms nowadays (patches, gels, pessaries, sprays) and can be administered via many routes. Your GP or local Pharmacist can offer support, advice and guidance regarding what might be right for you and the risks. Therefore we recommend these resources are accessed to discuss HRT and your menopausal needs.

Due to the damaging and ageing effects menopause has on the skin, we feel an overview of treatment options to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, promote collagen and elastin production, increase hydration and protect against UV damage will equip you with the knowledge needed to reclaim your skin confidence.

Skin Needling (Polyrevitalization)- Collagen & elastin synthesis is needed in order to increase the firmness of your skin. Collagen and elastin are produced by fibroblast activity and it generally takes approximately 3 months for this activity to stimulate and produce fresh, strong collagen and elastin fibres. One of the ways this is achieved is via skin needling (Polyrevitalization). At no more than a depth of 0.5mm, aesthetic practitioners use a variety of different approaches to cause tiny, pin-prick punctures to the outer layer of the skin. This controlled trauma stimulates fibroblast activity in the dermal layer which results in the production of new collagen and elastin and firmer skin. This treatment is recommended once every 3 months and is often enhanced with the additional of topical solutions (mesotherapy) designed to add goodness, nourishment and hydration to the skin.

Skin Boosters - do as they say, they 'boost' the quality of the skin via a process known as bio remodelling which provides the optimum environment for cell growth and fibroblast activity. Generally skin boosters are unlinked or loosely cross-linked hyaluronic acid compounds that are injected into the skin at a depth of up to 0.3mm, and they offer high levels of hydration to tired, dehydrated older skin. Treatments are generally spaced at 17-21 days intervals, normally a course of 3 (but this can vary dependent on the product and brand protocol) and are repeated at 3 to 6 monthly intervals. They are fantastic at adding hydration to the skin, they are an excellent investment for those lacking lustre and some can also be used for gentle augmentation too, which is always a bonus!

Peels - or skin resurfacing are the most popular treatment used to resurface dull, tired, ageing and problem skin. Peels come in 3 depths, but the most common are superficial peels (poly hydroxy acids), AHA (alpha hydroxy acids), BHA (beta hydroxy acids) and mid-depth TCA (trichloroacetic acid) peels. Peels, or skin resurfacing, gently remove the dead skin cells that sit on top of the skin, causing dullness and collapse. This results in a fresher, brighter complexion and skin that is more able to absorb other products used to promote hydration or reduce skin conditions. For more details on the benefits of skin resurfacing, see my blog All About Acids - why they are so phenomenal in skin resurfacing procedures

Fillers and Toxins - are probably the most commonly known skin treatments that people turn to to help combat the signs of ageing caused by menopause. As we go through the menopause, we lose our facial fat pads as they disperse and are reabsorbed and bone is also lost. This leads to the mid to lower part of the face becoming heavier, with more pronounced nasolabial folds, more pronounced jowls, sunken cheeks and a less angular jawline. The impact the reduction in oestrogen has on skin hydration leads to increased fine lines and wrinkles, commonly around the eyes, forehead and lips. Dermal Fillers are cross-linked chains of hyaluronic acid in a gel, with different density depending on where they are being used, and offer volume replacement and support (scaffolding) to help augment the mid to lower face regions where the signs of ageing can be most prominent. Toxins (a prescription only medicine [POM]) are used to reduce the movement of different muscle groups, thus reducing the signs of fine lines and wrinkles to the frown, forehead and eyes (most commonly) and are also used to reduce the signs of ageing necks and jawlines by depressing certain muscle groups, causing others to lift.

Radio Frequency (RF) and Microcurrent - are becoming more popular within the aesthetics industry as non-invasive technologies used to firm and lift the skin by heating tissues up to 40 degrees+, causing old collagen to snap and helping stimulate new collagen synthesis, and by sending microcurrent impulses through the muscles, causing them to contract and release, thus firming them up. Generally a course of 6-8 is initially needed (one a week), followed by 3 monthly maintenance.

Skin Care Products - are by far the most important tool you should have in your tool box to tackle menopausal skin. You don't need to have a vast amount of products, and it doesn't have to be pricey either. By far the most benefit is a good, regular routine that you stick to and a range of products that are right for your skin type and also your pocket. It doesn't have to be expensive to be good. Look for a good cleanser, preferably with some exfoliant in it such as lactobionic, salicylic or glycolic acid, so that the old, dead skin cells are gently removed on a daily basis, as well as oxidants and pollutants that accumulate on your skin during the day. Reach for a toner or a serum that has HA in it, to begin putting the moisture back into your skin. Your moisturiser ought to have antioxidant benefits, such as something with Vitamin C in it and everyone MUST use a separate SPF 35+ daily, to protect against the damaging effects of UV. Remember, it doesn't have to be sunny to get UV damage, it just has to be day. When the sun comes up, it is day. When the moon comes up, it is night. For more information about skin care products and their benefits why not visit our blogs Vitamin A - our anti-ageing Hero! or Smoke, Mirrors and Making a Cake.

At DermalEssence, we take a 360 degree approach to skin confidence, where we approach our skin transformations from 5 different groups of treatments, thus ensuring that the skin receives what it needs and results are not just achieved, but sustained. This is especially important with menopausal skin, which faces more challenges due to the reduction in oestrogen and the related effects this has on the skin structure and quality and facial structures.

If you would like our FREE Guide to Skin Confidence follow THIS LINK, complete the form and the Guide will be emailed to you to read and keep as your go-to resource.

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