Since 2010, Ivona Percec, MD, PhD, and her team of researchers in the Anti-Aging Lab have been working toward unlocking the fountain of youth.
The team of four is dedicated to studying stem cells taken from the fat tissue of patients who undergo body sculpting treatments. Those stem cells are then examined to see how they contribute to the aging process.
“We’re researching how the aging process works, especially since clinically it differs from men and women and different ethnicities,” explained Dr. Percec.
If successful, stem cells could potentially be used to slow down or reverse the effects of aging and provide patients with a “more natural look and feel since it will be using the patient’s own tissue,” Dr. Percec said, which could benefit the way you look, as well as your overall health.
While Dr. Percec’s research is still ongoing and the team is searching for answers, there are likely some questions on your mind: Can the aging process really be reversed? And if so, what are some ways in which you can slow the process down?
Here are five things Dr. Percec wants you to know.
1. Beware of One-Product-Fits-All Claims
If you’re looking for one product that does it all — and many products claim that they do — Dr. Percec warned that such a product does not currently exist.
“It’s not practical since different products and ingredients have different reactions with each other and should be tailored to the individual patient’s needs” she explained.
Some of the products that Dr. Percec recommends to her patients include:
- Products that contain many antioxidants and retinoic acid (Retin-A) or its precursors
- A mineral (not chemical) sunscreen that should be applied every two hours, even in the winter
- A hydrating moisturizer, especially in the winter and at night
- A good exfoliator that will remove dead and dulling skin cells, allowing you to more quickly grow new skin cells and reveal smoother-looking skin as well as facilitate the penetration and efficacy of topical products
- Treatments such as micro-needling and/or radiofrequency treatments to stimulate skin health and renewal
“Skin care is much more involved than patients think,” Dr. Percec said. “It’s not enough to just wear moisturizer and sunscreen.”
Based on the individual properties of your skin, you doctor will be able to recommend products that can be the most beneficial for you.
“A plastic surgeon’s job is to educate patients on the whole aging process, including skin care,” Dr. Percec said, noting that a doctor can explain the science behind why one option might help you more than another. “They also sell many products that have been clinically tested and proven to work. Since over-the-counter products are classified as being cosmetic rather than medical, they are not regulated or tested in the same rigorous way and many simply do not work.”
2. When it Comes to Anti-Aging Treatments, It Pays to Start Early
Think you’re too young to benefit from anti-aging products and treatments? Dr. Percec sees patients of all ages, but she described her ideal patient as being one that comes in at an early age to begin the process little by little.
“Aging is a natural part of life that occurs in most individuals beginning in their twenties and thirties. It works at all levels of the body, beginning at the skin level and then affecting deeper tissues, even bone,” she said.
Dr. Percec works with patients to combat aging by using minimally invasive options whenever possible. These options include chemical peels and injectables such as neurotoxins and fillers, and are recommended based on your specific wants and needs. However, some patients may be best suited for a surgical option, such as a face or eye lift, to diminish the signs of aging.
3. Environmental Factors May Contribute to Aging
Living in a highly polluted environment and not taking care of your body can contribute to early aging. Air pollution and toxic fumes have been shown to cause age spots, wrinkles, and other skin conditions, which can affect your appearance.
And environmental factors aren’t the only pollutants you need to worry about; smoking cigarettes also takes a toll on your skin. The nicotine that enters your body from smoking can cause the blood vessels in the outermost layers of your skin to narrow, reducing blood flow and preventing your skin from getting enough oxygen and nutrients. Additionally, heat from the cigarettes, combined with the facial expressions you make while smoking, can also cause premature wrinkles, especially around the mouth.
While quitting smoking won’t reverse the damage, it will prevent your wrinkles from worsening and improve your overall health. Quitting can also help limit your risk of developing other conditions, including lung cancer and heart disease. If you’d like to quit smoking, we offer a comprehensive and individualized smoking treatment program to help you safely and successfully overcome tobacco dependence.
4. You Are What You Eat
You know that eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is important for your physical health and weight management, but did you know it can also help you appear younger longer?
Strive to maintain a healthy weight based on your height and age. If you’re too underweight or have poor nutrition, your skin can become dry and your body can lose soft tissue, resulting in deeper wrinkles. In contrast, those who are overweight or have excess fat can experience skin irritation, blisters, rashes, infections, stretch marks, and skin folds.
So, what’s the best diet to preserve healthy skin?
Dr. Percec recommends one that includes:
- Lean sources of high protein, such as antibiotic-free boneless, skinless chicken breast or beans and lentils
- Fish with low mercury and high omega oil content
- Low carbohydrate veggies and low glycemic index berries
- No processed foods or foods with excess added sugar or corn syrup
- No inflammatory foods, which include processed meats, sugary drinks, white bread, fried foods, white pasta, gluten, soybean oil, and vegetable oil
- Antioxidant supplements and additional supplements based on dietary lifestyle
5. There’s No Shame in Wanting to Look Your Best
Caring for your physical appearance has been shown to boost your self-esteem and confidence levels which in turn can have a positive impact on your mental health, emotional well-being, and quality of life. So, you shouldn’t feel shame if you’d like to slow the aesthetic effects of aging.
“Patients feel treating aging is superficial, but deserve to look as good as you feel,” said Dr. Percec. “Your face is your identity, and it needs to be maintained like you maintain your body, your house, your car, or your garden.
“There’s nothing better than making patients feel good about themselves and improving their quality of life.”
Are you ready to learn more about how you can slow down the signs of aging? Request an appointment online today.