Signs of aging usually appear on the skin first. Over time, the amount of collagen produced slowly decreases and the skin loses elasticity, becomes thinner, and the subcutaneous fat cells decrease in size. All of these changes work together to create wrinkles and sagging skin. What many women don’t realize is that there is a corresponding relationship between aging skin and reduced estrogen production, a situation which can be addressed with bioidentical hormone therapy.
Aging Skin Process
A number of medical studies have discovered several links between healthy skin and estrogen. For instance, estrogen increases skin thickness and moisture. Studies on younger women reveal that skin is thinner at the beginning of the menstrual cycle when hormone levels are at their lowest, and then becomes thicker as estrogen levels increase.
Pregnant women frequently find that their skin is much healthier when they are pregnant, something which is also tied to hormonal changes. In addition, estrogen improves wound healing, skin conditions like psoriasis and protects against photoaging caused by the sun.
The connection is most noticeable in postmenopausal women. Women who have experienced little or no wrinkling prior to menopause may suddenly find that their skin ages very quickly. It becomes dry, loses elasticity and firmness, and wrinkles appear or become deeper, a condition known as hypoestrogenism.
Hormone Therapy For Aging Skin
Since reduced levels of estrogen cause skin to age, it only seems logical that restoring those levels with bioidentical replacement hormone therapy (BHRT) could slow down aging skin. After years of testing scientists have confirmed this assumption to be true; restoring estrogen levels can make the skin become more moist and thicker and may actually reduce wrinkle depth.
In fact, some studies have shown that women on BHRT have skin up to 20% thicker than women of the same age who are not taking estrogen. This vital hormone promotes the synthesis of collagen which gives the face a plump, youthful appearance.
Natural hormone replacement is not a cure all, however, and does not prevent skin damage which can occur from smoking or extended exposure to sun and wind.
Hyaluronic Acid and Estrogen
Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a lubricating substance which is extremely effective in bonding water to tissue, and is a key ingredient found throughout the body, especially in the eyes, joints and heart valves. In addition to promoting healthy joints, hyaluronic acid keeps the skin moist and firm and retards wrinkle formation. As a result, this has become a key ingredient in many anti-aging creams.
While the connection is not clearing understood, there is a symbiotic relationship between hyaluronic acid and estrogen. When estrogen increases, HA levels increase as well; when hormone levels decrease, the amount of hyaluronic acid also declines. Studies of women taking bioidentical hormone therapy show that HA production increases in response to the restored hormone levels, helping to repair damaged skin and slow wrinkle formation.
Younger women heal much faster from surgery and wounds than do older women with reduced hormone levels. Studies link this directly to estrogen and the impact healthy hormones have on the skin. Yet younger women are generally not the ones seeking cosmetic surgery to restore their youthful appearance.
Because of this, some plastic surgeons advise patients to consider beginning bioidentical hormone therapy prior to surgery. Those who take this advice often experience faster healing, plus they are able to slow down the aging skin process and prolong the positive impact of their cosmetic procedure.
Natural vs. Synthetic
Many women who could benefit from hormone therapy are unwilling to consider it because of the publicized risks the originated from a Women’s Health Initiative study. Those risks are valid drawbacks of synthetic hormones like Premarin®, the drug used for the study. Scientific research has shown, however, that those side effects do not occur with bioidentical hormones.
The primary reason is that bioidenticals are a mirror image of human hormones and the body cannot distinguish them apart. Not only are natural hormones not harmful, they are also extremely beneficial and reduce the chance of several serious illnesses including heart disease, diabetes, several cancers and Alzheimer’s disease.