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With straightforward, accessible information and advice, Ageless Beauty is the equivalent of a costly consultation with one of the pioneers of cosmetic dermatology. It’s the ultimate sourcebook for all women -- and men -- who want to look younger but don’t want the risks, expense, and recovery time of plastic surgery.
In one sense your skin is no different from any other organ in your body. Yet no other part of you performs such vital bodily functions while also serving as a barrier against the outside world. The natural cycle of skin renewal seems simple: old skin cells are continually shed and replaced with new ones that float up from below the surface to take their place. These new cells actually produce skin as soft as a newborn baby's, skin that would remain that way were it not for external factors and environmental effects such as the sun and the wind.
Just nature alone can damage the newborn cells, causing them to grow irregularly. Even losing weight so that the stretched skin is no longer filled out has its effect. Nutritional factors, too, affect the growing cycle of the skin cell and, as we shall see in Chapter 12, can either help or hurt it. Add near-constant bombardment by ultraviolet light and other toxins to the equation and it becomes difficult for the skin to repair itself.
I'll save my ozone-layer diatribe for another day, but before reading any further, you must understand that intrinsic aging factors like sun and the pull of gravity are only part of what causes your skin to change. The other part involves the myriad uncontrollable genetic abnormalities that prematurely age the skin--the impaired blood-vessel function of diabetes, for example, or autoimmune-related skin disorders. But take heart. It's all "fixable" to a large degree. And soon we shall see how.
The wear and tear that skin endures affects different skin types differently, and although heredity still has a lot to do with it, aging signs vary significantly dependingon your lifestyle. Even fair-skinned, natural blondes--the most susceptible to sun damage or "photoaging"--can, through prevention and self-care, defy the years. But I'm getting ahead of myself. First I want to draw the broad outlines of normal aging, so that you can know what to expect and what you can reverse.
Believe it or not, the effects of aging on the skin begin to show as early as our late twenties, when we notice just the slightest appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, especially around the eyes and above the upper lip--the consequence of a gradual, but steady, loss of moisture and elasticity. A few years further down the road, we observe those nasolabial (or, more euphemistically, "smile") lines, slight furrows in the forehead and folds between the eyes, an unmistakable loosening of the jowls and neck, and excess skin above the eyes.
The reality is that, like clockwork, each decade will leave its own marks and deepen the effects of those before it. How deeply is determined by two variables: heredity and lifestyle. Heredity includes the variables of genes, skin color, bone structure, hormonal output. Lifestyle includes time spent in the sun (yes, your teen years count), smoking, exercise (which improves your vascularity and your skin's texture), skin color (the more pigment your skin houses, the more protected you are), and yo-yo dieting, in which your skin tends to stretch and relax, stretch and relax.
More bad news: With age our complexions get duller, brown spots begin to appear, and fatty pockets develop above and under the eyes and under the chin; our skin sweats less and produces less oil, steadily drying out and losing its luster. Postadolescent acne and other blemish disorders may also rear their ugly heads, fueled in part by hormone imbalances, which greet us later in life. A glance in a full-length mirror confirms that aging is not confined to the face. Spotted, thin-skinned hands are a dead giveaway, as are spider veins on the legs, thinning hair on our heads, and keratoses, which are rough growths on the skin, popping up like dandelions just about everywhere. These changes make us look older than we feel or feel older than we are--paradoxical conditions that I have always found immensely disquieting. But take heart. They, too, are treatable.
With an ever-expanding array of nonsurgical treatment options, the field of cosmetic dermatology has made staggering advances in the past two decades and continues to keep pace with the exponentially surging demand for aesthetic medicine. By now many of these procedures--such as chemical peeling, laser resurfacing, and collagen injections, to name the most common--have become firmly entrenched in the beauty vernacular. But there are other treatments, new, cutting-edge, not so well publicized. How many people know, for instance, that mesotherapy--the injection of a vitamin- and mineral-rich solution directly into the dermis--is far more effective at enriching the skin than the traditional patches and creams? How many people are aware that laser resurfacing, thanks to new low-heat lasers that can be set specifically for each patient's skin type, now means minimal recovery time and discomfort? These are but two tricks of the trade we'll discuss.
Now, of course, you may be wondering: Why choose these treatments over plastic surgery? Isn't plastic surgery still the way to go for truly transformative results? In most cases, the answer is a resounding no. Naturally there is an important place for plastic surgery, which, in fact, I recommend to patients as a worthy complement to certain resurfacing techniques, if I think it's merited. But no matter how old you are or how many wrinkles you have, if your skin isn't sagging, your first visit should absolutely, unequivocally be to a cosmetic dermatologist.
Plastic surgery can get the wrinkles out, no question, but below the surface things are pretty much the same. You will still have sun damage, and your collagen will still be in sad shape because your skin cells are turning over at the same dwindling rate. Let's face it: you can have your skin pulled, clipped, and tucked to no end, but if it's dull and blotchy, if it's not working any better beneath the epidermis to repair itself, it is not improving your skin's overall health. Many of the treatments I will describe have been proved as successful as plastic surgery in restoring the skin's youthful elasticity. So again, although you may in the end need surgery to get the optimum results, it's more than worth your while to see what a cosmetic dermatologist can do for you first.
This book is all about keeping your skin vital, healthy, and youthful year after year after year. By this I mean having skin that not only looks vital, healthy, and youthful but behaves that way as well. The procedures I will discuss can improve the vascularity of the skin by inducing the formation of new blood vessels (which, in turn, improves skin color and nutrition). These procedures can also stimulate cell turnover, eliminate the blotches or "dispigmentation" caused by accumulated melanin, and, yes, promote the growth of new dermal collagen. The result: smoother, clearer, firmer, radiant skin. Who doesn't want that?
In recent years, a number of books have outlined--some quite admirably--practical, at-home routines for preventing or reversing the signs of aging. The idea behind such books is that, through a carefully followed regimen of skin care, diet, vitamins and exercise, the need for surgery can, if you start young enough, be indefinitely forestalled. But does it really work for everyone? What about those people--and believe me, I've treated many of them--who, no matter how diligently they exercise, diet, or keep up a sensible skin routine, find the results of their hard work disappointing at best? For many people, particularly those who have spent much of their youth in the sun or who have inherited less resilient skin, the effects of a daily skin-care program can ultimately be underwhelming; for others the payoff, however substantial, is just too agonizingly slow. What sorts of procedures are out there for people who are committed to taking care of their skin but who also aren't satisfied with do-it-yourself therapies?
Funny you should ask. Ageless Beauty is a comprehensive guide to understanding what the newest procedures in nonsurgical cosmetic enhancement can do to help people of all ages--across all skin types and colorations--turn back the clock. With this book I'll tell you about the new, formidable weapons against aging--in fact, a whole arsenal of treatments that will let you look as young and as good as you feel.
Beginning with the premise that it's never too late to correct skin damage, whatever the cause, or too early to start protecting against it (my own patients range from their twenties to their eighties), the battle plan proposed here is very simple and won't ask you to run out and buy a line of products you don't need.
The meat of the book is in Chapter 3, "At Face Value," which focuses on the myriad procedures that reverse the signs of aging, and not just on the face. This chapter goes into these procedures in depth, but many will be repeated in later chapters, though not in quite so much detail. Because the face is only part of the picture, I've included additional chapters on the care and treatment of the hair and scalp, the hands and the legs, even the teeth, all of which change as we age and transform our overall appearance. The chapter called "Gloves Off!" for instance, addresses, among other things, the treatments available to transform those telltale age-spotted, ropy-looking hands. "Crowning Glories" examines the latest procedures for slowing and/or stopping both male and female baldness, including an in-depth look at new hair-grafting techniques and finasteride--otherwise known as the "baldness pill."
I've devoted a chapter to men, who age differently from women, physically and psychologically. Men's needs are addressed throughout the book, but in "For Men Only," I bring the male aging process into focus, examine the aging signs that men find most distressing, and detail what can be done about them. Although men are not as prone as women to expressing their concerns about wrinkles (any more than they're prone to asking directions when they're lost), they do care about looking as youthful and vital as possible. Vain, fragile creatures that we are, how could they not? We all know that men have always been obsessed with their physiques, and it is becoming increasingly apparent that that concern extends even to facial aging, which, no less than hair loss, has an insidious way of detracting from all the hard work a guy puts in at the gym. Although men, as far as I can tell, are not yet swapping beauty secrets at the makeup counter, the male cosmetics industry is booming; men in unprecedented numbers are wearing sunscreen and buying up wrinkle remedies packaged as shaving creams and other "acceptable" formulations. Topping it all off, you will read a chapter on food and vitamins and how you can make them work for you as partners in your quest for perfect skin texture and tone.