Menopause is a process that brings about wide-reaching changes in your body. This includes your largest organ, your skin. While this time of life changes brings the benefits of decades of learned wisdom and maturity, the reality of menopause also involves a time when ageing processes become somewhat accelerated. This period of life, in terms of more rapid ageing changes, relates to the hormonal changes that occur during menopause.
For men, a similar thing occurs over time, although with slightly different time frames. Male hormonal changes that come with ageing are known as Andropause or “male menopause”.
In terms of YOUR skin and menopause, it’s not just your facial and body skin that changes.
Vaginal skin changes also, and that’s why vaginal laser treatments are now on offer for helping combat post-menopausal dryness, laxity or skin atrophy (thinner skin) that can lead to reduced libido or painful intercourse.
Changes to your Skin after Menopause: It tends to become much dryer
Increasingly DRY skin is not uncommon after passing through menopause. It’s also a key reason some women seek hormone replacement therapy or HRT.
Even vaginal lubrication becomes less frequent or non-existent after menopause, requiring hormone replacement treatments, creams or laser therapy.
- Not only is the ageing process more noticeable in the years following menopause, the process of change itself can also result in hot flushes and other discomfort that leaves you feeling less comfortable in – and about – your skin.
- Some women find they end up with a deepening voice or additional facial hair.
- Even sensitive areas can become excessively dry (leading some women to try Mona Lisa vaginal laser treatments rather than creams).
So how MUCH does skin change during or after menopause?
And can anything be done about it?
- There is a lot you can DO to reduce skin dryness after menopause, especially if the skin dryness if worse winter.
- Of course there’s skin care using great cosmeceutical products (we carry Obagi, Medik8, PCA and other top skin care lines for over-age-fifty skin care). Visit our Dermal Clinician recommended online store for skin care products.
- But there are more significant skin treatments that reach deeper layers of the dermis to rejuvenate the skin and cellular functions such as moisture production.
- These deeper treatment may include Laser treatments or vaginal lasers or facial skin needling such as DemaPen or SkinPen.
- Deeper treatments have a stronger impact on the cellular functions of the skin, and can help you reduce the signs OR speed of facial skin ageing, but only to a degree; that noted, non-surgical treatments are very much in demand because they DO have such a positive effect on appearance once you’ve passed through menopause and beyond.
There are deep chemical peels, pigmentation treatments and skin serums that can help improve the moisture and appearance of your skin’s texture.
Combinations of these treatments, along with dermal filler to re-volumise the face and anti-wrinkle injections to reduce those lines and ‘furrows,’ can go a long way to having you regain a less aged appearance or more refreshed skin appearance.
Skin Changes after Menopause – the typical effects of hormonal changes on your skin after age 50
- The major reason for the increasing effects of age after the age of 50 or during and after menopause relate, of course, to hormones.
- The same hormones that gave you acne as a teenager or young adult are again going through fluctuations, but often result in dryness rather than oily skin.
Hormones are powerful, so hormonal changes tend to impact nearly every organ, perhaps none so greater than your largest organ – your SKIN.
When you are in what’s called the reproductive years, having monthly menstruation, it’s a time of maximum hormone secretion. Oestrogen levels are higher when you’re younger. And they are what helps your skin look dewy, smooth and youthful when you’re relatively young.
- The hormone oestrogen is incredibly important in keeping the body and the skin youthful.
- During and after menopause, or after a hysterectomy, the levels of Oestrogen change.
- Oestrogen drops dramatically, and thus there are many changes in the body and the skin.
- These changes are not always welcomed in terms of how they impact your appearance.
- For information on the best treatments to combat certain signs of ageing, from wrinkles to skin pigmentation and uneven colouration, phone (03) 8849 1444 and ask for an assessment with a Dermal Clinician (skin treatments, lasers and skin-smoothing facials) or a Cosmetic Injector (filler and wrinkle relaxers).
How your skin is likely to be affected during or after Menopause
- As oestrogen levels drop, testosterone levels can rise for some women.If you have oily skin, you may find that your problem exacerbates, as the hormone testosterone tends to stimulate sebaceous glands.Just as you thought your teenage acne days were over, you may start to experience break-outs in your middle years!
- Wrinkles and sagging skin including the face, chin and breasts – these are the prime giveaway areas of ageing.Menopausal changes are largely to blame. Our youthful skin is plump and healthy. Often it is kept firm and plump due to fat deposits under the skin.It’s also supported by a strong underlying skeletal structure (sadly, your bones also atrophy over time, which is why dermal filler injections are so popular).When oestrogen hormone levels drop, fat distribution starts to change. Usually excess fat ends up in areas where you least want it, such as on stomachs, buttocks or hips or under the chin. But fat stores also change in the face. The wonderfully supportive layer of fat in the face and neck starts to sag and the bones shrink. The skin then sags, wrinkles form and fine lines start to deepen from cumulative sun damage and repeated facial expressions. You will probably notice that you lose fat in your breasts, and that sagging happens there as well. The moment you discover that you’re having to ‘lift’ your breasts into your bra, or your nipples are drifting downward (if this didn’t already happen just after pregnancy), you’ll know there are changes happening in the skin tissue surrounding your breasts.
- Oestrogen is the main stimulus for the production and repair of collagen. You probably know that collagen is an essential part of keeping your skin firm and elastic. As oestrogen levels drop, so does your production of collagen. This causes a decrease in your skin’s resilience and skin’s elasticity. The technical term for this is ‘elastosis’. It means that your skin may look puffy longer in the morning, or the jowls may seem to sag. For example, if you lean your face into your hands, the indentations might not disappear as quickly as they once did.
- Without a protective layer of fat and with reduced collagen, your skin is even more sensitive to ultra-violet light. Sun damage is cumulative and also more dramatic after menopause. You’ll need to be even more vigilant protecting your skin in your 50’s and beyond. If you give up caring for your skin just because you see wrinkles forming, you’ll be making a huge mistake. Oestrogen aids the production of melanin, which protects you from the sun. Reduced oestrogen means reduced melanin, with the obvious side-effects that your skin is less protected from sun damage.Use physical sunblock and take care to stay out of the sun.
- You’re probably familiar with those brown ‘age spots’ that you might see forming on your hands, face, and chest. These are also as a result of reduced melanin. When UV rays reach your skin and there isn’t enough melanin to keep them under control, these spots appear as a result of damage to your skin. Coco Ruby offers treatments for these complaints – as well as Melasma (very noticeable facial pigmentation that sometimes occurs during or after pregnancy). Phone (03) 8849 1444 for details on treatments for Melasma such as Dermamelan.
- Circulation changes will occur which impacts the delivery of skin nutrients. The epidermis is filled with blood vessels that keep oxygen and nutrients moving through your skin. The maintenance of these vessels is partly controlled by oestrogen. Thus, you get less blood to your skin during and after menopause, which causes the epidermis to be less healthy and to start to thin. A thinning epidermis results in wrinkles forming. Also, sometimes the vascularity will become more prominent – particularly on the decolletage. A Dermal Clinician can advise you on the treatment options to reduce dryness and may also recommend Healite II or other light and laser treatments to improve collagen stimulation and circulation. Ask about C02 Lasers and DOT therapy as well as Mona Lisa Vaginal Laser Treatments.
- A thinning epidermis and reduced hormones can also result in dryness, which makes lines and wrinkles more noticeable on the surface of the skin. This is a time when you need to increase moisture to the skin, and concentrate on making certain that you really boost hydration. One of the novel ways to treat very dry skin is to use dermal filler injections in a “skin booster cosmetic injections” type of strategy. Ask our Senior Cosmetic Injecting Clinicians & Physicians about Booster Injections to plump up the skin.
- What many women are not aware of is that the skin of the urinary tract and vagina are also affected by ageing. We can’t see these parts of our bodies so tend not to be as aware of the ageing process, but you may still be conscious of symptoms. If you find that you’re becoming incontinent or if sexual intercourse is uncomfortable and you’re experiencing dryness or pain, these symptoms could be related to the changes in your skin due to menopause. It makes sense, as the cells on the surface of the skin in both the urinary tract and vagina are similar to other skin cells. Thus, there is likely to be a similar loss of resiliency and dryness occurring. Visit the Mona Lisa Vaginal Laser Treatment pages or phone (03) 8849 1444 and ask for an assessment with a female GP.
Skin Care Options for Skin After Menopause including Laser Treatments for the Face and Vaginal Area
What can you do to combat the effects of menopause on your skin?
- As already mentioned, you should use increased sunblock to protect your skin from UV rays, and don’t forget your hands. Your hands are almost always exposed to sunlight, so make certain that you put sunblock on them too. Hands are often a first indicator of the ageing process, and you could find that the skin thins, that veins tend to become more prominent, and that wrinkles become obvious. Wearing gloves to protect your hands from harsh chemicals when you’re doing housework is also helpful. Ask our dermal clinicians about the fantastic high-quality SUN PROTECTION products they carry – book a skin care assessment by phoning (03) 8849 1444.
- The foods you eat can help improve the condition of your skin. Look to include antioxidants in your diet, as these can help to counteract the drop in oestrogen levels. You can do your own research into which foods are best, but you can’t go wrong with brightly coloured vegetables and fruits. Remember, your skin, as with every other part of your body, regenerates itself by using the nutrients available to it. By nourishing your body with good food, you’ll help to slow down the ageing process.
- Get enough beauty sleep – now is the time to ensure that you are well rested. The ageing process can make you look tired, and if you’re genuinely sleep deprived, this will make the situation worse. Besides, it’s during sleep that our bodies restore and repair, so give yourself time for that to happen. A good facial and regular massages will also help with circulation, relaxation and sleep!
- Exercise is a great way to improve skin tone – one great side effect of exercise is that it gets the blood pumping and improves circulation; all of which is good for your skin. Exercise – as we age – is also particularly great for the brain, and may prevent dementia! In addition to helping with circulation, exercise decreases stress. Being too wound-up definitely makes your skin more sensitive, and it can also lead to not drinking enough water or consuming the wrong foods. It doesn’t always have to be cardiac exercise that you do – gentle Pilates or yoga are also excellent at getting you to relax and become more centred. This can have a lovely correspondingly positive effect on your skin, your mood – and of course, your general appearance.
- Consider intra-vaginal laser treatments as a Series – as discussed, many women find that the changes to their skin also affects the lining of the vagina and their attitude towards sexual intercourse. Having sexual intercourse when you’re feeling uncomfortably dry (even skin parched) is often unpleasant.
Discomfort during sex is also one of the reasons many women lose their sex drive after menopause. There is a procedure – known as the Mona Lisa Touch – that uses a targeted CO2 laser method to improve the quality of the tissue and skin of the vagina. It’s non-invasive (no surgery) and is considered safe for suitable candidates for laser treatments (ask our female G.P. to screen you to see if you’re a good candidate).
The procedure is typically not uncomfortable and relatively quick to have performed. But you’ll need three sessions about 4-6 weeks apart for best results. The way it works is that it counters the key symptoms of menopause (or post-pregnancy) by regenerating skin fibres and simulating the production of collagen in that area. Hydration is often a problem with ageing skin, but this treatment helps restore both moisture and elasticity. When correctly performed, it stimulates the skin to regenerate itself (much like other lasers or even a Dermapen – it creates tiny tunnels that stimulate the skin’s natural healing responses). So the tissues of the vagina can be successfully “regenerated” using vaginal laser treatments, not just via oestrogen creams or moisturising solutions, but via an internal response. It have even helped many women re-experience sexual enjoyment again.
The ageing process is inevitable, particularly as our bodies change during menopause.
However, as we’ve discussed, there are many things that you can do to prolong the vitality and healthy appearance of youth. This will give you more confidence and could greatly improve your quality of life.