In the last couple of years, I have been lucky enough to go from looking older than my actual age to looking younger, a lot younger. I’m 44 (and happy to be this age!). In the last few weeks, I have had people thinking that I was 30 or 31.

I remember well what it was like to look in the mirror and think “well, I guess I’m old now” and I certainly prefer what I see in the mirror now. It’s not about trying to pretend that I’m something I’m not, rather it’s about looking as good as I can.

In this post, I’d like to share with you what may be making you look older and what you can do about it.

There’s an ad these days, I think it’s for an Oil of Olay product, or maybe L’Oreal, where they say something like “Now you can treat what is really making you look old — irregularities in your skin tone.”

They’re right: an irregular skin tone with brown sun spots or redness from rosacea or broken capillaries adds years to your face. This was proven scientifically in a study where they took a picture of an elderly woman and digitally took her skin, removed the wrinkles and put the mottled skin on a much younger woman’s face.

They asked people to estimate the age of the young woman and found that with the brown and red spots of the elderly woman on the young face, people consistently overestimated the young woman’s age by 5 – 10 years.

This explains why a lot of people think that they look younger when they have a tan. The colour of the tan minimizes the appearance of the brown and red spots. The problem with the tanning strategy is that it is causing more sun damage, which not only leads to more brown and red spots but also breaks down collagen so the skin sags and wrinkles quicker.

To get rid of brown and red spots, I really like the photofacial with intense pulsed light (IPL). It can take multiple treatments (5 – 8) but you see improvement with each treatment. It’s safe and well-tolerated: you can’t have an allergic reaction to light. I find that the redness lightens up pretty quickly with the treatment. The brown spots darken first and then disappear over 10 – 14 days.

Alternatively, you can use skincare products or chemical peels. With the peels, you need multiple treatments (6 – 12 to get the same effects as 5 – 8 photofacials) and you have to go through several days of peeling after the treatment.

Think about an elderly relative: what does his or her skin look like? Can you picture the enlarged pores, sagging skin, wrinkles? Now compare that face with a child’s. You’ll notice that the child’s face has a radiance to it that is lost in the elderly face.

You can restore radiance to the skin with the Pixel laser. The Pixel laser stimulates a lot of collagen formation in the skin which softens lines and wrinkles, tightens up the skin, and gives the skin a more opaque, pearly appearance. The Pixel laser also stimulates new skin cell formation so the skin has a fresher, more dewy appearance.

The Pixel laser leaves you red and rough for 5 – 10 days. The redness improves day by day and can be covered with makeup. The roughness starts to peel off 2 or 3 days after the treatment but it could take several days to run its course. The nice thing is that the peeling starts around the central part of the face and works its way outwards so you have beautiful radiant skin around you eyes, nose and mouth (i.e. where it’s most noticeable) first.

You can also stimulate collagen formation in the skin with an Accent radiofrequency treatment. Accent radiofrequency helps to tone and tighten the skin and can contour cheeks, jowls and chins. The results of an Accent RF facial are not as pronounced as a Pixel treatment but the advantage of Accent RF is that there is no down time. You can have an Accent treatment on the day of a big event and look great.

Chemical peels can also stimulate some collagen formation in the skin but it takes a lot of peels to get the same results as 1 Pixel. Chemical peels are ideal for the person who has time rather than money for treatments.

A big change that happens to our faces as we age is sagging. If you are 40 or older, take a good look at your cheeks and see where they are fullest. If you are like me the way I was a while ago, you might see the fullest area down around the level of your nostrils instead of up in the apple of the cheek. Are the apples of your cheeks rounded, flat or indented?

A quick fix for your cheeks is the injection of dermal filler. The dermal filler is injected deep below the skin so the outward feel is very natural. It gives a nice rounded contour to the apple of the cheek and helps to tent up the skin, softening lines around the eyes and reducing the appearance of the lines bracketing the mouth and jowls.

You see the results of the dermal filler right away. Bruising is usually minimal when the cheeks are injected.

I have been doing filler on the cheeks of both men and women and it makes an instantaneous rejuvenating change to the face. The interesting thing is that people don’t realise you’ve had your cheeks done. One man visited his brother after he’d had his cheeks done and his brother thought that his new exercise program was agreeing with him. Someone else thought that this man had had a face lift. People will see that you look better but not know exactly why.

Another change with aging is the loss of volume of the face. Sometimes you see older people who just look like their skin is too big for their face, temples and cheeks are hollowed out and everything is wrinkled and sagging.

Now we have volumizing injections. These are a little different from fillers. The one I use is called Sculptra and is made of a form of lactic acid (a natural compound found in the body). The neat thing about Sculptra is that it stimulates the skin to produce collagen, producing long-lasting volume in the face but the actual injected compound disappears after about 2 weeks so it is your body doing the actual volumizing.

You can do a lot to restore a younger appearance to your face without surgery. The real beauty of these treatments is that they keep you looking like yourself. A lot of my clients say “I look in the mirror and I remember when I used to look like this.”

I’ll put together some before and after pics to illustrate these procedures in the next few days.