Fewer wrinkles and firmer skin linked to earlier use of estrogen therapy

08/26/05

Long-term hormone therapy used earlier in menopause is associated with fewer wrinkles and less skin rigidity in postmenopausal women, Yale School of Medicine researchers report in the August issue of Fertility and Sterility.

"These benefits were seen in women who had consistently used hormone therapy and had been in menopause for at least five years," said Hugh S. Taylor, M.D., associate professor in the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at Yale School of Medicine.

"We don't believe hormone therapy will make wrinkles melt away once they're already there, but the results of our study shows that hormone therapy can prevent them. Hormone therapy makes wrinkles less severe and keeps skin more elastic," Taylor added. Taylor and his co-authors compared 11 women who had not used hormone therapy to nine long-term hormone therapy users. Demographics including age, race, sun exposure, sunscreen use, tobacco use and skin type were similar. The researchers made visual assessments of wrinkle severity at 11 facial locations. A plastic surgeon with no knowledge of which women were using hormone therapy rated the number and severity of wrinkles using a Lemperle scale.

The team also measured skin elasticity using a durometer.

They found that rigidity was significantly decreased in hormone therapy users compared to nonusers at both the cheek (1.1 vs. 2.7) and forehead (20 vs. 29). Average wrinkle scores were lower in hormone users than in non-hormone users (1.5 vs. 2.2) on the Lemperle scale.

Taylor said that what is happening in the skin may be reflective of the functioning of other organs such as the heart and bone, which might also be benefiting from estrogen therapy. The results suggest that hormone therapy keeps the skin looking younger and healthier and may have cosmetic benefits if started early. Hormones seem to keep the skin healthy, but can't reverse present skin damage.

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