Lights, Camera... You're Aging

Even 38 years start to add up under the lens of the aging camera

Laura Papetti submits to the prying eyes of the "skin-aging" camera.
Laura Papetti submits to the prying eyes of the "skin-aging" camera.

The doctor told me to hold still while she took a snapshot of my face. It wasn’t your usual camera and I wasn’t wearing camera-ready make-up. The flash came from a camera that identifies and captures your skin’s anomalies — even those not visible to the eye.

It wasn’t a pretty picture.

“It analyzes your skin, your complexion. It gives us a good starting point,” says Dr. Kaiulani Morimoto, a plastic surgeon at Rockwood Clinic.

Several local dermatologists and medical spas have these “skin-aging” cameras. They are designed to show people the damage done to their skin by aging, poor care, sun and free radicals. Doctors or skin care specialists can then create a skin care plan for you. Take my advice though and proceed with caution. You may think you’re aging well but just below the surface could lurk the other side of youth.

“People are lulled into thinking that because they bought all these expensive products and that because they spend so much money that they are getting something of good quality and doing something for their skin,” says Dr. Morimoto. That may not always be the case.

So do you really want to know how bad your skin looks under the lens of the aging camera? You might ask yourself why bother getting upset if things don’t look so hot? Fair question. But skin-aging cameras can help determine your specific skin issues and direct you toward the appropriate fix. You can also see how you’re doing compared to others your age. I was right in the middle: About 50 percent of women my age have worse skin than I do, while the other half rates better.

So now that I had the bad news, I wanted to know the latest techniques and products out there to make me feel and look better. Basically, I wanted a few years off my face without a hospital stay.

Dr. Morimoto says Botox is still one of the most-used products to take away a few years. But she says the products getting the most attention now are fillers. You may have seen the commercials for the best-marketed brands like Restylane and Juvederm.

Ryan Saunders, a physician assistant at Rockwood Clinic, says the ability to attract and retain moisture is one of the reasons fillers are so successful for many patients. Fillers are made of hyaluronic acid, which plumps up areas where skin begins to lose mass as we age, helping to fill in fine lines around the lips, for example.

Another way to smooth skin is through the use of a laser. Lasers can now get around some of the unpleasant effects of the earlier systems. “They are figuring out what wavelengths and what energy levels penetrate most efficiently and cause the least amount of side effects, including irritation and pain,” says Saunders.

Not long ago, laser treatments might have required you to lather your face with Vaseline and wrap yourself in cellophane to deal with the burns caused by the treatment. Saunders says that has changed. “Now, we’re able to do it with a slight sunburn appearance,” she says.

Also much less severe are chemical peels. “You can do it in the office and not go under anesthesia. It’s a lot safer than it used to be,” says Dr. Morimoto. In fact, they now have less severe, organic versions of the peel.

Saunders says that whatever treatment you pick, the best thing to do is start simple. “You can always add more salt to the soup,” he adds.

The prices of all these procedures vary dramatically depending where you go and how much you do. Some people may take several treatments of a procedure while others can escape with minor touch-ups.

As for me, I’ve opted to wait on any treatments. But who knows — with so many new products coming out, something may very well catch my attention and make my skin a prettier picture.

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