Accept No Compromises
When we think about aging, it can be easy only to focus on the things we lose. But the truth is, there’s no need to compromise to look and feel the way you want. There are plenty of ways to maintain a youthful, healthy appearance.
post-procedure skin care
Environmental factors and everyday wear and tear can wreak havoc on our skin. Procedures like microdermabrasion and chemical peels can repair damage and help turn back the clock. “Skin cells become much less effective with age and damage,” explains Dr. Michele Koo, a plastic surgeon in private practice. “These procedures repair age and environmental damage and stimulate cells to produce collagen fibrils, elastin and glycosaminoglycans to plump and soften deep wrinkles.” To make the most of the rejuvenating effects, here are some steps to maintain a radiant complexion afterward.
Carol Anderson, RN, CANS, a board-certified nurse and owner of Nouveau, A Boutique Medspa, stresses the importance of following the specific instructions your skin care provider gives you following a procedure. The wide variety of treatment options means there isn’t a one-size-fits-all recovery plan. “Just because your friend got a laser procedure doesn’t mean your experience is going to be exactly the same,” she notes. “Your recovery and ongoing care are going to be different.”
soak it up
“Chemical peels and microdermabrasion take off old cells and create new ones, which makes your skin much more receptive to whatever you put on it,” Anderson says. Using the recommended products to address specific concerns is especially important during the first 12 hours after the procedure, when skin is most responsive.
stick to the shade
“Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen,” Koo says. “Staying out of the sun and using an effective medical, antioxidant sunscreen are important after laser treatments and chemical peels.” Also, make sure the sunscreen you use protects against all rays: UVA, UVB and UVC. Anderson adds that most procedures require you to stay out of direct sunlight for a minimum of three days, but it may be necessary for up to two weeks.
inside and out
Both topical and internal hydration are important to your recovery. Make sure you drink enough water and use an effective moisturizer. “Don’t be pulled in by the branding or price,” Koo says. “If there are not enough active ingredients, you won’t see any results or get the benefits.” To ensure that your moisturizer will make a difference, Anderson suggests checking the ingredient list. If the active ingredient is not near the top, there isn’t much present and the moisturizer won’t be as effective. Anderson also says to avoid moisturizers that include a large concentration of petroleum. “The only thing petroleum does is seal in your moisture; it doesn’t hydrate,” she explains.
There are several ingredients to look for. Koo notes that antioxidants like vitamins C and E and retinol have many benefits, including repairing damage and replenishing skin oils, elastin and collagen fibers. Anderson agrees that vitamin C is one of the most important ingredients because it will protect your skin from the sun and ozone, but she also notes that it should not be part of your initial recovery; it should be incorporated into your routine when the skin has healed. “Cucumber and thyme extracts will soothe and help with redness and inflammation,” she adds.
Anderson strongly suggests finding a provider with whom you can build a good relationship. “She can help you set up a plan for your skin care and adapt it to any changes your skin may undergo,” she says. She also notes that people often think they can’t start a skin care regimen because of cost, but in reality, there are effective options for every budget. Koo agrees that maintaining a routine with the right products is important. “The key to youthful skin is stopping damage before it begins,” she says. “If you use effective, medical skin care products, you can still look 40 at 65.”
“A lot of seniors fall back on what they know when it comes to fitness,” says Ryan Morgan, owner of Pursuit Fitness and Performance, a gym that specializes in training people 50 and older. “They stick with going for a walk or hitting the treadmill, but that’s really just part of what they should be doing.” Making the most of your fitness routine can have big benefits, like reducing your risk of injury and lessening joint and back pain.
“Improving balance helps prevent falls and injuries,” Morgan says. “Bone density decreases over time, so if people aren’t following a regular strength training routine, one fall can mean a broken hip or torn ligament.” He adds that for senior athletes, it decreases the chance of injury and improves performance.
Morgan says he’s seen an improvement in clients’ balance when they start incorporating strength training into their workouts. “Just doing body weight exercises and going through a full range of motion will increase awareness of your body in the space around you,” he explains. “Don’t just use machines. Do things on your feet or even in a sitting or kneeling position to increase your core control and improve balance.” Ideally, your routine should take your body through different movement patterns, including forward, backward and side to side, and it should work out the entire body.
☛ try it at home!
While supervision is recommended for many strength training exercises, Morgan says simple, single-leg exercises can be done without instruction. “Simply standing on one leg is an easy way to work on your balance,” he explains. “Just be sure to use some sort of support in the beginning to prevent falls.”
Flexibility can help prevent injuries, back pain and balance problems. “A body in motion stays in motion, while a body at rest stays at rest,” Morgan says. “It’s important to put your joints through a full range of motion to continue to move well.” He suggests everything from playing with your grandchildren to playing golf and tennis to keep your body moving and flexible. “There’s no magic exercise to improve flexibility,” he notes. It’s also important to stretch. Morgan suggests practicing dynamic stretching, which means moving as you stretch instead of just holding the position for 10 or more seconds (static stretching).
If you have concerns about improving flexibility before a workout, Morgan suggests trying self-myofascial release. The technique places pressure on fascia (connective tissue beneath the skin) with the goal of reducing pain and restoring motion. “It’s like giving the muscle a mini massage,” he says. “It decreases tissue density and allows the muscle to move better.” A variety of products can be used for self-myofascial release, including foam rollers, massage sticks or even tennis and and lacrosse balls, and Morgan says it’s safe to do on your own.
take to the water
If you’re suffering from joint pain or stiffness, aquatics might be the perfect fitness solution. Heather Chesemen, aquatics director at The J, explains that water’s buoyancy gives you the benefits of regular exercise without the strain. Different levels range from less strenuous floating and extension stretching to more intense lap swimming and aqua jogging. “Aquatics can be a great way to get a cardio workout, especially for people who liked to run when they were younger,” she says. “You really can’t be an avid runner your whole life because joint soreness and injuries are going to start popping up. Running in the water gives you the same cardio benefits, but you aren’t tearing up your knees.”
Aquatics is often recommended for physical therapy patients who have had knee replacements or similar procedures, but Chesemen says it’s a good fit for most seniors because it engages the whole body and can improve balance. “When I’m teaching a fitness class, I always try to engage all of the muscles,” Chesemen says. “You want to make sure you work the abs because balance originates in the core.” She recommends working out three times a week for 45 minutes to an hour. “Staying consistent is important,” she notes.