The study comes from skin experts including Sewon Kang, MD, of theUniversity of Michigan’s dermatology department.
They added retinol, which is derived from vitamin A, to an over-the-countermoisturizer. For comparison, they also made a placebo lotion containing noretinol.
Kang’s team put the lotions in separate, identical bottles so no one couldtell which bottle contained the retinol lotion.
The researchers’ lotions were tested by 36 healthy people who were at least80 years old at two senior centers in Michigan.
First, the researchers photographed the skin in participants’ inner upperarm — a spot not likely to be affected by sun damage. Participants also got askin biopsy from their inner upper arm.
After that, half of the elders got the retinol lotion; the others got theplacebo lotion. They were scheduled to use their assigned lotion on their innerupper arm three times weekly for six months.
At the end of the six-month study, participants got another skin biopsy andmore photographs of their inner upper arm.
The elders who had used the retinol lotion had a reduction in the appearanceof fine wrinkles in their inner upper arm. Those changes started after fourweeks of retinol treatment and lasted throughout the study.
Wrinkles didn’t change for those in the placebo group.
The before-and-after skin biopsies show that retinol treatment boostedstructural components in the elders’ skin.
Retinol can irritate the skin. By the end of the study, most patients in theretinol group had some skin dryness or irritation. As instructed, they cut backon their retinol use in light of those side effects.
Retinol didn’t erase wrinkles forever. The researchers followed 11participants for six months after retinol treatment ended. The skin differencesseen in the study faded during that time.
The study appears in the Archives of Dermatology.
The journal notes that Kang and three other researchers are named asinventors on a patent application for methods to treat aging skin.