By: Dr. Kelly G. Burkenstock

In Louisiana our culture and backgrounds are as diverse as seafood gumbo! Did you know that our family genes determine how our skin ages? Supporting the weaknesses in our unique DNA gene blue print can in part turn back the sands of time. 

As we age our skin loses moisture and elasticity, making it prone to developing fine lines, wrinkles and enlarged pores. We also lose our ability to produce collagen and elastin, causing the skin to become less firm and lose its flexibility. While developing wrinkles is an unavoidable part of the aging process, it can be slowed down or prevented to some degree.

Most wrinkling is due to extrinsic aging, which is caused by environmental factors and lifestyle choices such as smoking, sun exposure, alcohol abuse, air pollution, poor diet, and lack of sleep. Prolonged sun exposure is by far the leading cause of early wrinkling. UV light breaks down the collagen and elastin fibers that form our skin’s connective tissues. As a result, the skin becomes weaker and less elastic, causing photo damage and wrinkles to appear. Good news is, there are ways you can protect your skin from the sun, including daily use of sunscreen (containing zinc or titanium), and wearing protective clothing. Maintaining a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and not smoking are other important ways to combat extrinsic aging.

Intrinsic aging, on the other hand, is the natural process our skin goes through as we get older and is dependent on our genetic DNA makeup. Age-related gene DNA changes vary from person to person based on an individual’s genetics and the body’s many internal processes. Your DNA genes play a deciding factor in how your skin ages with time much in the same way they affect whether you are short or tall, or have blue eyes versus brown eyes. A sign of intrinsic aging, for example, is thinner and more fragile skin that occurs naturally over time. Genetics also determine our ability to generate collagen and elastin, which give us elasticity and resistance to wrinkles and enlarged pores. Genetic variants in the MMP1 and STXBP5L genes specifically have been associated with increased risk of developing wrinkles. 

The best anti-wrinkle defense is to understand your individual gene risk factors, and support your gene weaknesses with a combination and custom plan to support your unique gene weaknesses in the five Skin Gene categories. Over time this can help build collagen and thus improve the skin’s appearance. Cutting edge DNA testing now allows us to dive even deeper and identify the specific genes that increase our susceptibility to aging. By understanding our genetic predisposition to wrinkles, as well as other skin conditions, we can make proactive changes to eliminate, reduce, or delay symptoms and have you feeling and looking your best.

Your unique Skin DNA genes can be analyzed with a simple cheek swab. Your Skin DNA Gene results are then used to customize a personal skin care program to halt premature skin aging. This can save you time and money as many of us have spent large sums of money on useless or even skin damaging lotions, potions and spa treatments. Your DNA guided program combined with hydration, fresh fruits and vegetables, good nutrition, sleep and exercise are a wonderful combination to fight and turn back the hands of time. However, by leading an unhealthy lifestyle, most skin gene types will take a beating and age faster.

With your DNA results pointing to your upcoming (future) skin degradation, a physician trained in Skin and its relation to DNA results can   develop a lifelong  ecipe to help maintain radiant and youthful skin with targeted serums, skin growth factors, supplements and professional procedure treatments all geared to your specific DNA gene weaknesses.

The 5 Main Skin Gene Categories

  •  Collagen Production and Breakdown – Firmness
  •  Glucose Handling – Creepiness and Wrinkling
  •  Melanin Production, Defense and Repair – Pigmentation
  •  Antioxidant Production and Defense – Oxidation Damage
  •  Toxin Protection – Inflammation

The second DNA skin category is Glucose Handling – Creepiness and Wrinkling. Your skin’s DNA ability process sugars in food and beverages. A high-sugar diet can affect your skin from the inside out, and at an accelerated rate if this tested gene category is one of your DNA weaknesses. Sugar molecules attach to collagen and elastin proteins in the skin through a process called glycation. 

Big words aside, the sugar can lead to premature aging and a compromised, saggy complexion.  The damage is seen in the form of fine lines, wrinkles, and dull, sallow, creepy skin. Weak glucose handling genes can also interfere with the production of new collagen and elastin, preventing your skin from naturally repairing itself. If you’re going to eat sweets or candy, it’s best to stick to a dark chocolate bar with a high cocoa content that is low in sugar. The darker the chocolate, the less sugar it will contain. Blueberries and nuts are excellent snack options and they fight this gene category weakness.

Alcoholic drinks that are high in sugar are going to be worse for your skin, because in addition to the visible effects of alcohol, your skin is going through the sugar digestion (glycation) process. Mixers, including tonic water and fruit juices, usually contain more sugar while dry spirits tend to have less sugar. If you want a glass of wine, choose red instead of white. Red wine has less bad fructose and more good resveratrol.  Always check food labels and avoid sugars, high fructose corn syrup, sucrose and starch.

When the Glucose handling gene category is a client’s genetic weakness then a glucose blocking program including topicals, treatments and supplements would be advised as below:

  • Topicals: Retin A, hyaluronic and kojic combination cream, grape seed resveratrol serum, Salicylic, Lactic and Glycolic Exfoliators, Bioidentical Epidermal Growth Factors, Protein Peptides and Kombucha. 
  • Professional Treatments: BBL / IPL Photofacial, Therapeutic Ultrasound and Radio Frequency laser.
  • Vitamin Supplements: SAMe, vitamin C buffered, Gamma E, and Whey or Pea protein.

Stay tuned for part 3 of the Skin DNA Series: Melanin Production, Defense and Repair – Pigmentation

References: Trevino, Julissa, Glowing Skin might start in your genes. Popular Science, October 12, (2018). Farage, M.A., Miller, K.W., Elsner, P. & Maibach, H.I. Intrinsic and extrinsic factors in skin ageing: a review. Int J Cosmet Sci 30, 87-95 (2008). Puizina-Ivic, N. Skin aging. Acta Dermatovenerol Alp Pannonica Adriat 17, 47-54 (2008). Le Clerc, S. et al. A genome-wide association study in Caucasian women points out a putative role of the STXBP5L gene in facial photoaging. J Invest Dermatol 133, 929-35 (2013).Vierkotter, A. et al. MMP-1 and -3 promoter variants are indicative of a common susceptibility for skin and lung aging: results from a cohort of elderly women (SALIA). J Invest Dermatol 135, 1268-1274 (2015).

Dr. Kelly G. Burkenstock
Skin – Body – Health 

Metairie Location
3841 Veterans Blvd
Metairie, LA 70002
(504) 888-2829

Mandeville Location

2040 N Causeway Blvd

Mandeville, LA 70471

(985) 727-7676