How Do We Age?

Plastic Surgeon Serving Indianapolis, Indiana


Summer is a time for vacation and relaxation, and tanning. During my time off, as I watched many people work on their tan, I thought to myself 'They are going to be sorry some day'. I have these thoughts because it is part of my job to understand how we age, and I began to think that it would be worthwhile to share this understanding with you.

The key questions regarding aging are: "What happens when we age?" and "Why do some people age better than others?" Let's take the second question first: "Why do some people age better?"

The speed with which we age is controlled by both fixed and variable rates, kind of like your mortgage. The fixed rate is how we are genetically programmed, whether it's good skin quality, stronger muscles, or better bone structure. These qualities all affect how good we look and how well we age. It does come down to just luck and we can't change who we are. But the good news is that the fixed rate (our genes) has much less influence than the variable rate.

The variable rate is determined by what we do and what we don't do to our bodies. Premature aging of the skin (wrinkles, age spots and so on) is due mostly to smoking and excess sun exposure. This isn't a lecture and I am only the messenger so don't get mad at me, but there is no denying it so you might as well confront it if you haven't already. If you have any doubts, compare the skin on your face to a part of you that has never been tanned or burned. Then take a look at the skin of some smokers and non-smokers who are the same age, and decide what you think. The good news here (I am a firm believer in good news) is that it is never too late to stop. And once you have stopped, there are many options to regain what you have lost, including Botox, injectable wrinkle fillers such as Restylane, and laser treatments. There have never been more options to slow the aging process and "turn back the clock" but it all begins with protecting your skin by eliminating sources of damage.

A healthy diet and exercise are also significant factors affecting the variable rate, but I covered this in excruciating detail (February 5, 2007 blog; it was a long one) so I will leave it at that. Next time I will talk about "What happens when we age?" beginning with the face.