What causes wrinkles? There are many factors that contribute to the onset of wrinkles. The following are the most important: Aging Wrinkles are a natural by-product of the aging process. With age, skin cells divide more slowly. The inner layer of the skin, called the dermis, begins to thin. The network of elastin and collagen fibers, which support the outer layer, loosens and unravels. This process results in depressions on the skin surface. With aging, skin becomes more fragile. Also, oil-secreting glands are less efficient, making the skin less able to retain moisture and appear more wrinkled. All of these factors contribute to the development of wrinkles. Facial muscle contractions Lines between the eyebrows (“eleven” or frown lines) and lines coming out from the corner of the eyes (crow's feet) are believed to develop because of the underlying muscle contractions. Smiling, frowning, squinting, and other habitual facial expressions cause these wrinkles to become more prominent with age. Over time the expressions, along with gravity and the loss of underlying bone and fat mass, contribute to the formation of jowls and drooping eyelids. Sun damage Excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation (too much sun) can result in premature aging of the skin, also known as photoaging. The ultraviolet sunrays that cause photoaging damage collagen fibers (the major structural proteins in the skin) and elastin fibers (the protein that enable skin to stretch). Both of these fibers are important components of the skin’s connective tissue. Without them, the skin loses its strength and flexibility, leading to wrinkles. When ultraviolet light damages skin tissue, certain enzymes are produced. These enzymes create and reform collagen. During the process, however, some healthy collagen fibers are damaged, resulting in a disorganized formation of fibers called solar scars. Wrinkles develop when this rebuilding process occurs over and over. Smoking Healthy skin always regenerates. While old collagen is broken down and removed, new collagen is being produced and installed. Researchers have found that smoking tobacco products causes a reduction in the production of new collagen. A lack of new collagen results in the development of wrinkles. This may also be due to the lack of blood supply to the skin caused by smoking. I’m 44 and I’ve been having Botox for about seven years in order to improve my forehead wrinkles. It’s a great treatment, but recently I have noticed the very faint beginnings of crow’s feet around my eyes and also some fine lines around my mouth and on my cheeks. During my last Botox appointment I asked my doctor, Dr Mehran Ghoreishi, about using Botox and fillers to treat these, more as a preventative than a corrective measure. To my surprise he told me he did not think this was necessary and he told me about a new treatment called Harmony ClearLift nick-named the ‘Laser Facelift’ that is now available at the clinics. Dr Mehran called the treatment a “collagen booster” and explained that he has been using it as an alternative to Botox for some of his patients who are needle phobic or simply can no longer have Botox. Amazingly he told me it was pain free and would only take about 20-30 minutes. I must admit I felt a bit sceptical about this as I am in the “no pain, no gain” school of thinking! Dr Mehran showed me the back of his hands, one that had been treated with ClearLift and one without and there was no denying that the skin on the treated hand was far more “springy” than the untreated one, so I decided to take a chance. Following my consultation and patch test which was all very straightforward, I took my place on the treatment couch and waited for Dr Mehran to begin. The Harmony Clear Lift hand piece is small and placed against the skin and moved over the face quickly. Dr Mehran spent more time going over the problem areas, making multiple passes in those areas. It made a sort of “popping” sound but there was no pain whatsoever. Having had laser skin rejuvenation treatments before I was expecting some sort of ping or elastic band type flicking sensation, but I felt nothing except some gentle heating which was not at all uncomfortable. Dr Mehran explained that the reason ClearLift doesn’t hurt is because the Laser light – using a Pixel Q-Switch laser –misses the top epidermis layer of skin completely and is transformed into acoustic sound waves as it hits the dermis – the lower layer of skin – to stimulate collagen production. The face is lifted, plumped and skin tightened. It’s like an, ‘orchestra,’ in the dermis that stimulates new collagen! Dr Mehran concentrated on the areas around my eyes, around my nose to mouth lines and the fine lines on my cheek area. The actual treatment was over in about 20 minutes and immediately after my face just felt pleasantly warm. Some Vitage Aloe Gel and SPF30 to soothe and protect was then applied. There were absolutely no visible marks on my skin. This is what I think is so brilliant about the treatment. Even with something as minimally invasive as Botox you do run the risk of some bruising and small marks where the needle goes into the skin. It’s not always easy to hide and as I don’t tell my husband about my treatment, I’ve sometimes had to think of inventive excuses for the little marks!!! Following my first treatment I didn’t notice anything particularly significant in terms of my lines but I did feel my skin was tighter and firmer which was great! I had five treatments , one every 2 weeks over a ten week period and by the third treatment I could visibly see that the lines around my mouth and eyes were much less noticeable. BUT the very best thing about the treatment is the condition of my skin generally. It’s much firmer and the texture is so much smoother and as a result the fine lines are plumped out. I’m now even thinking about having the treatment on my neck lines which really bother me. I can’t recommend Harmony ClearLift enough and I think it’s an amazing treatment for anyone who can’t have Botox or fillers. I can imagine it would be an ideal treatment for anyone with sun damaged or crêpe skin, which fortunately I don’t suffer from. I am not surprised that this is a massive sensation in Hollywood where its known as the “Laser Face Lift” because with no downtime its ideal for busy people in the spotlight. The effects last up to a year which is slightly longer than with Botox, so it’s a great alternative or a good combination treatment if, like me, you want to have both!!