You may have your father’s eyes, your mother’s smile, or your grandmother’s laugh– but do you know who your wrinkles came from? Genetics are responsible for not only our inherited physical characteristics, but also how we show our age and our rate of aging. As new research reveals more about the connection between genes and aging, cosmetic medicine is quickly evolving to offer more advanced anti-aging treatments in the quest to slow the aging process.
Aging caused by heredity is known as intrinsic aging. While our cells become damaged over time due to external factors, they also begin to deteriorate at certain life stages due to our predetermined genetic code. According to Dr. Grant Stevens, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, in terms of appearance, this manifests itself as:
- Thinner, finely wrinkled, crepey skin
- Loss of facial fat, leading to sunken cheeks and under-eye hollows
- Skin laxity due to bone loss
- Graying hair that may also become thin
- Unwanted hair
Unlike extrinsic aging, we have traditionally had little control over intrinsic aging, but scientists are working hard to change that. While no one can change their genes, some therapies can change gene expression associated with the aging process. The goal is to use science to help aged skin behave more like young skin on a molecular level.
The Future of Anti-Aging
One laser treatment that is currently available called the Sciton® BroadBand Light (BBL™) promises to do just that. BBL is a nonsurgical skin rejuvenation procedure that is commonly used to improve the appearance of acne, sun damage, skin tone, and vascular conditions. But a recent Stanford University study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology found that the laser also affected skin cells on a functional level, bringing about changes that go beyond the cosmetic. Treated skin actually behaves more like younger skin.
Many of the cosmetic treatments available today are highly sophisticated and produce great improvements in the skin. But until recently, we weren’t examining their impact on gene expression. According to many experts, understanding this crucial component is the next phase in anti-aging. As knowledge of aging and genetics continues, doctors and researchers are optimistic about the implications of gene therapy for cosmetic medicine.