It’s likely that almost everything you think you know is wrong, where preventing wrinkles, sagging and other signs of aging are concerned. Whether you heard that fact from a TV show, friend, or friend-of-a-friend, myths around aging skin abound.

To help clear up face-related fables, we asked Dr. Kate Dee to address common questions around aging skin. Dee is a former breast cancer specialist at Seattle Breast Center and the owner and founder of Glow Medispa in West Seattle and Kirkland, practicing aesthetic medicine since 2014.

Is anti-aging skin treatment only for people between the ages of 50 and 60?

Myth. The first signs of aging actually begin in your 20s, then accelerate in your 30s, Dee explains. Collagen and elastin give youthful skin its thick and springy appearance. But the cells that make both begin to go dormant by age 30, and your body breaks them down at 1%-2% per year. As you lose volume under thinning skin, it starts to retain wrinkles and sag. By your 40s, some suddenly realize they look … different. Tired. Old.

While aging feels like an overnight process, prevention in your 20s and 30s can help skin cells stay awake and increase collagen production. “If you take preventive steps early, nobody needs a face-lift,” she says. “If you start treatment at 30, you’ll hold onto your skin.”

Doesn’t anti-aging skin treatment only address wrinkles?

Myth. Most people who visit Dee for anti-aging treatment do so for several issues. A top complaint is the dark undereye circles or eye bags that make someone look tired, which occurs due to thinning skin under the eyes and fat loss. Wrinkles — such as the “11s” between the eyebrows, crow’s feet at the eye’s corners — are an additional concern, followed by sagging skin under the chin and around the neck. We also treat a lot of brown spots from sun damage and red spots.

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Isn’t it true that skin care products don’t really work and are just a money grab?

Myth and fact. Skincare products aren’t regulated by the FDA or other entities, so even if a facial cream states it has retinol, it may have just a fraction or none whatsoever — and still charge a premium price. But not all skin care products are the same, Dee points out. “Certain companies stake their reputations on quality products, and the correct amount is actually in there.”

When formulated correctly, skin care products can help exfoliate dead skin cells, boost skin-boosting antioxidants and vitamins, and create new collagen. “If you use good products, after 4-6 months, you’ll have young, fresh skin cells at the surface versus old, dead cells,” which leads to brighter skin, fewer sun spots, and a smoother skin surface.

Are anti-aging treatments primarily made up of skin care products?

Myth. To prevent or slow skin aging, Dee depends on a few approaches, including topical skin care, laser and radio-frequency devices, peels, dermal fillers and injectables. For example, Dee uses the Lutronic Genius device with 49 sterile, insulated microneedles to deliver radio-frequency energy to the skin, inducing the generation of collagen and elastin and thicker, smoother and tighter skin.

“Microneedling is one of the simplest, easiest things you can do to keep your cells awake,” Dee says, particularly for those in their 30s. Most treatments are brief, and while some patients experience mild redness, there’s no downtime.

Other treatments at the ready include the widely known Botox and less-well-known Sculptra. Scupltra is an injected poly-L-lactic acid that stimulates your own body’s production of collagen and proteins, in response to fine lines and creases.

(Glow Medispa)

Isn’t it true that you can never get rid of wrinkles?

Myth and fact. Dee points out that wrinkles start as dynamic but become static over time. Dynamic facial lines show up when you’re smiling or frowning due to muscle movement — even children have these lines. The skin springs back. Static lines deepen and become etched in the skin over time — often as lines at the eye’s corners and between the brows. Even when the eyes or mouth relax, the lines still exist nearby.

Both permanently etched, deep wrinkles and fine lines alike can be reduced through skin tightening, resurfacing, and some injectables such as Botox. Botox is a neurotoxin that temporarily prevents movement of the muscle that initiates that etched mark, and is particularly useful for crow’s feet and the “11s.” But paralyzing muscles to eliminate lines around the mouth — which you need to chew and talk — isn’t safe, she says.

Some wrinkles, like those 11s, will recur after the muscle-blocking treatments such as Botox wears off (and you resume grimacing). Fine lines won’t be as noticeable after skin cells turn over.

Aren’t facial treatments unsafe?

Myth and fact. “Many people have a healthy fear of procedures they don’t know, and others think things are safer than they are,” Dee says. There are known complications and unexpected results with some procedures and treatments, so it’s wise to investigate a treatment provider’s background.

“Nothing in aesthetics is worth permanent damage,” she says. “There are procedures and treatments we don’t offer because they’re too dangerous, don’t work, or come with too high of a risk. If there’s only a 50-50 chance of success, it’s not worth it. I care about medicine first.” 

Dr. Kate Dee, Glow Medispa

At Glow Medispa, we are driven by science, and everything we do is informed by the latest information and data available. We make a personalized assessment for each patient and strive to bring out your natural beauty.