Medically reviewed by Leann Poston, M.D. on 9/24/20
One of the most frequent complaints that people have about getting older relates to how their appearance changes. Graying hair, wrinkles on the face, thinner and looser skin, and perhaps some added weight – these are some of the outward visible effects of aging that most people experience. While as yet there is no true fountain of youth, there are a lot of ways to address these kinds of age-related appearance issues – one of the most common being cosmetic surgeries. But what if you don’t want to take a chance on surgery, don’t want the pain, cost, recovery time, or possible side effects? What can you do to keep looking your best as you age without resorting to cosmetic surgery?
The simple answer is quite a lot! There is a wide range of things that you can do to take care of yourself and keep yourself looking good at any age. In this guide, we’ll specifically look at how aging changes and affects our appearance, which will serve as the basis for the advice and tips we’ll highlight. We’ll stress the importance of good overall health and its role in a youthful and satisfying appearance. Additionally, we’ll touch on some good general advice to follow, at any age, that can help maintain and optimize your appearance. Finally, we’ll dig into some of the most common age-related appearance complaints that people have, and offer up advice and solutions about how to deal with them, without surgical intervention.
In This Article
Most of the outward appearance changes that come with aging happen gradually over time. While they are noticeable, they are less pronounced to us and those around us who see us every day. By contrast, if you’ve ever seen someone for the first time after many years apart, you’ll know how dramatic aging can appear in that context – even though in both cases, the same amount of aging has occurred and the same amount of time may have passed. The change is more jarring because you are seeing it suddenly, rather than the gradual, day-by-day process that those around us all the time see. These gradual aging changes to the body include:
The first key to minimizing or reducing the impact of these changes on the body due to aging is to maintain good overall health and health practices. There’s a direct correlation between appearing healthy and fit and being healthy and fit. Proper diet, exercise, medication to manage health conditions, hydration, and emotional/mental health are all important to feeling good and also looking good. Staying active, curtailing bad habits, staying in shape – these are all pieces of advice that you’ll see on every article and guide to staying healthy as you age. This basic advice for good health is also the best place to start as far as general advice for a good appearance, too.
In addition, there are some general pieces of advice that you can follow, applicable at any age, to help specifically maintain your appearance. Some of these cross over into the health realm, too, of course, but are worth mentioning especially in the context of appearance, as they have at least as much impact on your looks as they do your health:
Now, let’s take a look at some of the specific age-related appearance complaints that many older adults have, and the non-surgical solutions that can best help to take care of, offset, or prevent those problems from developing in the first place.
Thinning skin that takes on a crepe-paper-like texture is one of the hallmarks of aging. The loss of collagen, elastin, and underlying fat and connective tissue is combined with a decreased rate of new skin cell production as we age. This can be fought with moisturizers, especially those containing Vitamin C and Vitamin A, as well as retinol-based creams or liquids.
Botox injections are the standard recommendation for wrinkled, sagging foreheads or eyebrows, and the effects last for 3 to 4 months in most cases. Other skin treatments, such as those mentioned above and below for other conditions, can also help to plump up the forehead and restore a more youthful look to the skin and tissues there.
Not everyone turns gray or white, and it can happen at different times for different people. While there is no way to stop this from happening, hair dye is a simple and effective treatment if you want to maintain your natural, pre-gray, or white color. Maintaining proper nutrition, and treating your hair regularly with conditioner, are often seen as potential ways to slow down graying, but nothing has been shown to stop it entirely.
The decreased fullness of facial features that comes with aging can often be combated with fillers delivered by injection. Anti-aging injections of compounds containing hyaluronic acid cause tissues to swell and appear more youthful and full. These injections typically last for half a year to a year.
As we age, the normal cycle of our skin, replacing itself every 6 to 8 weeks, slows considerably. This means the outer layers of skin can accumulate more damage and more dead cells, resulting in an increased rough or dry appearance, feel, and texture. Regular exfoliation treatments, especially on the face and any other problem areas, are one of the best ways to help ensure dead cells are removed, and healthy, living cells shine through.
Frown or laugh lines around the mouth edges and crow’s feet around the eyes can be a major cause for appearance dissatisfaction as we age. Depending on the type, location, and severity, Botox and/or fillers may be used to address this issue. Skin creams with Vitamin A are a less drastic and costly option and can be used every day.
Laser treatments and microdermabrasion are recommended for skin with significant age-related freckles, age spots, speckling, scarring, or sun damage. These treatments help destroy or resurface the top layers of skin, promoting the growth of new skin cells. Essentially, by damaging the skin cells and tissues, it promotes a healing response, which can fill out the appearance and fullness of skin, color, and texture of the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Today, most people agree that Botox injections are considered the best non-surgical options for looking better. They have a variety of uses in the face area, and can help tighten up loose skin, even out wrinkles or frown lines, and provide results comparable to a facelift without the painful or expensive surgery or lengthy recovery time.
Moisturizers can profoundly affect skin elasticity, tone, and health, especially when used regularly for long periods of time. Utilizing moisturizer as part of a daily beauty routine throughout your life can help you to maintain healthy-looking skin, even as you get older. While it won’t stop wrinkles from forming or the other effects of aging, it’s a simple and affordable way to maximize and preserve the appearance of youthful, healthy skin.
There are several ways to rebuild and stimulate collagen production in your face naturally. Collagen creams are readily available on the beauty and self-care market today, with mixed results. Massaging your face can help stimulate collagen production. There are also several kinds of dietary supplements specifically aimed at collagen production. Curtailing or changing certain behaviors can also improve collagen in the face – specifically, reducing sugar intake, quitting smoking, ensuring you eat a healthy diet, and staying hydrated can help rebuild collagen in the face.
Aging is inevitable, and maintaining the good looks of youth entirely is impossible. However, by taking some steps to maintain a healthy lifestyle, you can maximize the potential to keep looking good even as you age. Specific complaints and conditions can often be treated non-surgically, and make a world of difference in your appearance. Most importantly, be happy and healthy – it shines through in your appearance, too!
While we strive to always provide accurate, current, and safe advice in all of our articles and guides, it’s important to stress that they are no substitute for medical advice from a doctor or healthcare provider. You should always consult a practicing professional who can diagnose your specific case. The content we’ve included in this guide is merely meant to be informational and does not constitute medical advice.