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Diagnosing Aging Skin

NYU Langone skin specialists can check your skin for sun damage, wrinkles, fine lines, and other signs of aging. As skin ages, the amount of collagen and elastin—proteins that give skin its firmness and elasticity—gradually decreases. In addition, the pads of fat that give the skin a full, smooth appearance begin to lose their shape.

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As a result, skin may become loose and less elastic, causing wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging. Often, these changes are most visible around the eyes and mouth and on the forehead.

The two main factors that affect how quickly skin ages are genetics and exposure to sunlight. Over time, sun exposure leads to wrinkles, fine lines, discoloration, thickened skin, and a loss of elasticity.

Repeated exposure to artificial ultraviolet (UV) rays—for example, the sun lamps used in tanning beds, which emit deeply penetrating ultraviolet A (UVA) wavelength light—ages skin even faster. Exposure to natural and artificial UV rays also increases the chance of developing skin cancer, including melanoma and basal and squamous cell skin cancer. This develops when UV rays damage skin cells and trigger abnormal growth.

Smoking cigarettes also accelerates skin aging. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes prematurely diminish collagen and elastin, leading to the appearance of wrinkles and lines.

Our doctors recommend quitting smoking, which can protect your skin and enhance the effectiveness of antiaging treatments. Experts at NYU Langone’s Tobacco Cessation Programs offer counseling and strategies to help you quit.

Skin specialists at NYU Langone conduct a medical history and perform a physical exam to learn more about your skin and assess any aging-related changes.

Medical History and Physical Exam

In addition to questions about your health, your doctor may ask for details about your lifestyle. These may include asking if you grew up in a sunny place, your job requires you to spend time outdoors, you use tanning beds, and you have ever smoked cigarettes.

The doctor also asks about your history of sunburns, even those you experienced during childhood. Just one severe sunburn may cause permanent skin damage.

Our skin specialists examine your skin closely from head to toe, assessing sun damage, evaluating fine lines and wrinkles, and identifying any dark spots, also called age spots or liver spots.

Our Research and Education in Aging Skin

Learn more about our research and professional education opportunities.