Why Do I Look Older Than I Am (or Feel)?

Why Do I Look Older Than I Am (or Feel)?

You look at pictures from just 10 years ago and you’re amazed at the difference in your face. Making matters more confusing, you don’t feel as if your age or your spirit align with what’s happening to your outward appearance.

At Los Gatos Dermatology, Dr. Bruce Saal and our team are experts in the human body’s largest organ — your skin. 

To help you better understand the aging processes that lead to unwelcome changes in your skin, we thought we’d take this opportunity to review the primary culprits. Better still, we also outline a few of the ways in which we can help you fight back.

Photoaging — enemy No. 1

Your skin is designed to protect you, and there’s no better example of this than how it shields you from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. These UV rays contain harmful radiation, and your skin feels the effects each time it's exposed to the sun. 

First, your skin produces more melanin, which are darker pigment cells that help to protect your skin. These cells once led to that great tan you had when you were younger, but as you age, these cells weaken and clump together, which is what gives you age spots.

Next, the sun’s UV rays break down the collagen and elastin fibers in your skin, which is what provides your skin with its structural support. As a result, your skin wrinkles and sags.

Taken together, exposure to the sun, or photoaging, is responsible for 80-90% of the visible signs of aging in your skin, which mainly affects those areas that are most exposed, such as your face, neck, chest, and hands.

Loss of support

Collagen is the protein that’s responsible for the structural support in your skin. You enjoyed the highest amount of collagen when you were in your 20s. 

After this peak, your collagen production begins to decline by about 1-1.5% a year, and this deficit can add up as your skin slowly begins to sag when you reach your 40s, 50s, and beyond.

Exacerbating this problem, when you lose collagen support in your skin, fat can migrate, leaving you with a more hollowed look.

Sluggish skin cells and thinning skin

As you age, your skin cells don’t turn over as quickly as they used to, and your epidermis begins to thin. This thinning leaves the outermost layer of your skin more prone to damage.


There’s a strong genetic component when it comes to how your skin ages, so if you belong to a family that tends to show signs early, the odds are that you will, as well.


For women, the aging processes in the skin speed up considerably as they pass through menopause. The precipitous drop in estrogen that accompanies this transition can affect the integrity of your skin to varying degrees.

Help for aging skin

While the forces that lead to aging skin are formidable, there are steps we can take to offset the changes. At our practice, we offer an arsenal of anti-aging tools that include:

To explore which treatments will best make your outward appearance match your youthful spirit, contact our office Los Gatos, California, to schedule an appointment.

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