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How to Get Rid of Crows Feet

Interview with Dr. Neal Schultz of DermTV.com

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As a 30-something, crows feet are starting to take hold of my eyes. From the emails that have been coming in, I know I'm not alone. I was very excited to speak with Dr. Schultz about this common problem.

I am a big fan of Dr. Neal Schultz and all of his work on DermTV.com. If you're not familiar with him yet, you'll have to take some time to read and watch some of his skin care advice tips. He has his own Dermatology practice in NYC and he's also the founder of BeautyRX skin care.

Dr. Schultz is a wealth of information on crows feet - both in preventing and reducing.

Are all lines on the sides of the eyes considered crows feet?

The most important thing to differentiate are smile lines and crows feet. When you smile, you’ll see small lines going from the corners of your eyes out toward your temple. When you stop smiling, if the lines go away, those are simply smile lines. If the lines stay, those are crows feet.

Typically, when do men and women start showing signs of crows feet?

The age is highly variable, but we see many people in their mid-30’s starting to see small lines that don’t go away. But people could fall in this category in their twenties or not until their forties, but mid-30’s is an average age.

What are the biggest crows feet instigators?

The three S’s: Smiling, Squinting and Sleeping, listed in the order of problem-causing. Smiling is the biggest instigator of crows feet, then squinting, then sleeping.

To get an idea of how wrinkles form, picture a paperclip. When you bend that paperclip back and forth and back and forth, after a while, the paperclip will break. This is the same with your skin. Repetitive motions that cause creases in your skin will break the collagen and elastic fibers in your skin and cause wrinkles anywhere on the face, not just around the eyes.

Smiling: Smiling is a repetitive movement and chances are good you smile many times every day. Everyone smiles a bit different, but those people who use the muscles next to their eyes when they smile will obviously get crows feet earlier than people who don’t.

Squinting: You should wear sunglasses every single day, all year round. This is because squinting from the sun is a repetitive movement and just like that paper clip analogy, continuous squinting causes the collagen and elastic fibers to break down and wrinkles to form.

Sleeping: The most ideal way to sleep to avoid wrinkles is on your back and using one of the u-shaped travel pillows. This is obviously not something that most people can do, so using a silk pillow case might be something that can help.

Here’s why. When you wake up, do you notice sleep lines? Sometimes your skin gets pulled on the pillow case when you are sleeping and that causes creases in your skin. When you use a silk pillow case, your skin is able to slide easier and won’t get tugged or pulled by the pillow case.

What do you recommend for people who don’t yet have deep crows feet and they want to prolong the inevitable?

Preventative steps. If preventing crows feet is important to you, you need to be doing whatever you can at this age to keep the fine lines from getting deeper.

On top of wearing sunglasses daily, I recommend exfoliating daily. The gold standard in exfoliation is glycolic acid and I recommend it for those looking for anti-aging help all the way down to those looking for anti-acne help. Chemical exfoliants such as glycolic acid work better than physical exfoliants.

Exfoliating works by taking away the dead skin cells on the top layer of your skin, called the epidermis. On top of removing the dead skin cells forcing fresh skin to the surface, this also adds volume to the epidermis, helping to smooth out lines.

And under the epidermis is the dermis, where the collagen is formed. Using glycolic acid to exfoliate will help promote new collagen growth, which also adds volume to the dermis. This easy step can help smooth out the early static lines.

I also recommend using peptides. Peptides are tiny little particles that the body thinks are little pieces of broken collagen. The body “sees” those broken collagen pieces and in turn, the dermis makes more collagen to replace the broken collagen. This helps smooth fine lines.

Speaking of product and ingredients, what do you think about those tape-like products like Furlesse where you literally tape the lines in your skin? Do they really help with the wrinkles?

They won’t really smooth the lines unless they have peptides in them. But if you use them continuously, you may see a very minimal improvement of maybe 5%, but 5% is 5%!

What can you do in-office to help with crows feet that does not involve injections?

In office glycolic acid peels are a great first start. We use a higher percentage of glycolic acid than you can get at home and it takes less than 10 minutes for the entire procedure. The acid actually works in 2 to 3 minutes.

Also, laser treatments are available. They work by making your body believe there is a small wound. The body reacts by building more collagen to heal the wound.

When do injectable medications come in to play?

You can start using preventative Botulinum toxin before your crows feet are an issue. (AKA: Botox or Dysport) Using injectable Botulinum toxin on your static lines, or the lines that don’t go away when you stop smiling, will help keep the collagen from breaking down completely, like in the paperclip analogy above. This is a great step that I recommend anyone start when they are noticing those early static lines.

And if you’re afraid of the needle, the exciting news is that by 2013, we hope, there will be topical Botulinum toxin available in your dermatologist’s office. It has the exact same results as the injectable form with no pain. It will take about 30 minutes in the office and just like the injectable form, results will last for 3 to 4 months.

What about side effects with injectables in your crows feet?

When you use Botulinum toxin on your crows feet, there are no concerns for “frozen face” because the muscles used there are not muscles that you need for most expressions.

Do you ever recommend against injectables for someone?

Botulinum toxin isn’t recommended for those who are pregnant or those who have had facial paralysis such as Bells Palsy until the effects of the palsy are gone. And even then, choose a provider with experience in using injectables on people with past facial paralysis.

Final words of advice about crows feet?

Preventative care is key. Do what you can early in life to prevent crow’s feet. Also, pass these tips on to your teenage daughters who will thank you one day.

Thank you again, Dr. Schultz for your time and expert tips on crows feet.

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