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Key iconKey Points

  • Aging is a natural process of life, occuring both mentally and physically
  • Anti-aging is a good marketing ploy, but mostly an illusion

Dr. Helen Torok
Do you really want to stop aging? The only way to do this for sure is to die. Aging is a natural process of life and occurs both mentally and physically. Anti-aging is a good marketing ploy, but mostly an illusion.

NORMAL VS. ACCELERATED AGING When a dermatologist does a full body check to screen for skin cancer, it becomes quite obvious that some areas of the body age normally and some areas have accelerated aging due to the accumulation of photodamage and oxidative stress. We cannot stop natural aging from occurring, but it is not as cosmetically unappealing as accelerated aging. Although cosmetic surgery can be successful in altering the aged appearance of parts of the body, it often leaves the area treated with an unnatural appearance and creates a disparity between this area and the rest of the body. While cosmetic surgery may be desirable for the client, it will have the necessary limitations associated with the process of aging. In the end, the face looks great, but the body, the hands and the mind all show signs of their true age.

GRAY AND GROWING Reversing accelerated aging can be much more rewarding. Here we make an attempt to reverse the damage done to the skin and recover the more youthful appearance the skin has lost due to injury or abuse. Today, a baby boomer turns 50 every eight minutes. The majority of this country is over 50 years of age and graying. They have been inundated with anti-aging mass media campaigns and are ready to enter the arena, but they have definite ideas of what they want and need. They want cost-effective, nonsurgical, minimal-downtime treatments that will reverse the ravages of accelerated aging.

The emphasis of this generation is on looking good, feeling good and pushing your body to the limit — in other words, don't act your age, don't look your age and try to do everything in your power to stop aging and correct its defects. This creates a high standard for the medical practitioner to achieve when they elect to offer cosmetic and aesthetic services instead of traditional disease-oriented medical practice.

KEEPING IT REAL There is nothing wrong with looking good for your age. Improving appearance is a boost for self esteem, quality of life, job security and personal relationships. But we have to be realistic. We want to augment and improve our looks and our skin, but in a manner that looks natural, proportional and complementary.

Many companies are vying for, marketing to and wooing these anxious baby boomers. Although the media tends to overpromise the results you can realistically deliver (which heightens the need for good documentation prior to any procedure), there are many great aesthetic procedures that deliver what they promise, among them lasers, intense pulse light devices, fillers and Botox. In addition, there will always be new developments on the horizon due to consumer demand and industry competing for market share.

PUSHING THE PARADIGM These aesthetic procedures are not "anti-aging," but rather offer an improvement in the appearance of the aging integument and body. However, the push to really reverse aging and use anti-aging drug treatments or hormonal manipulation is cause for concern as it is trying to manipulate the natural aging process within a very unnatural paradigm. Trying to reverse the natural aging clock may cause harmful effects by stimulating the growth and development of tissues in an aberrant fashion. You cannot fool Mother Nature or your body — it will create consequences.

Dr. Torok, a dermatologist in private practice since 1978, is the medical director for the Dermatology and Surgery Center, Trillium Creek, in Medina, Ohio. She is an assistant clinical professor at Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine. and a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology. Dr. Torok is a founding member of both the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology & Aesthetic Surgery (ASCDAS) and the Ohio Society for Dermatologic Surgery, and currently serves as ASCDAS Treasurer. Her other professional affiliations include the Dermatology Foundation, American Medical Women's Association, American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, Ohio State Medical Association and the International Dermatology Society. She graduated from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, in 1970; received her medical degree from Ohio State University, College of Medicine in 1973; and did an Internal Medicine residency and completed her dermatology residency at Case Western Reserve University.

For more information
Helen M. Torok, M.D.
[email protected]

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