Most people, if asked, will say they don’t believe in a “Fountain of Youth” – that mythical water spring that restores beauty lost and longevity slowly slipping away. Yet in 2016, Americans spent $8.05 billion on invasive cosmetic surgery procedures such as facelifts, breast augmentations, tummy tucks and liposuction. The total number of these procedures rose 132% between 2000 and 2016.
So, while there may be no “Fountain of Youth,” Americans clearly aren’t taking aging lying down.
According to recent data from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, invasive procedures accounted for just 10.4% of the 17.2 million cosmetic procedures performed last year. The bulk of the procedures included non-invasive or laser treatments like Botox injections and laser hair removal.
Why looking better is important
Many reasons exist for people to want to look younger and more vivacious. Dr. Ryan Riahi, a board-certified dermatologist with DermSurgery Associates in Houston, TX, who specializes in general and cosmetic dermatology, has heard most of them.
“The appearance of skin aging and sun-damage can significantly impact employment opportunities, the quality of personal relationships and possibly most important, the individual’s self-esteem,” says Dr. Riahi, who practices at DermSurgery Associates of Houston. “This is highlighted by the 10-billion-dollar anti-aging product market. People are into holding off the signs of aging because they want their appearance to match how they feel on the inside.”
Dr. Riahi doesn’t lure patients with a “Fountain of Youth” smokescreen; rather he gives them the ability to “take control of their aging concerns,” with the end result not just an improved appearance but also a marked increase in self-confidence.
“Dermatologic conditions are readily noticed by other people and can seriously affect a person’s self-esteem,” Dr. Riahi says, adding that much of his inspiration on the job comes from watching patients exercise a level of control in their appearance, which brings them many positive feelings.
Maybe, then, it’s not the idea of living forever or a lot longer that drives people to cosmetic surgeons and dermatologists. Instead, perhaps feeling better about themselves, regardless how many calendar pages their lives take up, is their biggest motivator.
The importance of the skin
For most people, their skin is one of the first places where they notice signs of aging. Blemishes begin showing up, laxity becomes more pronounced, wrinkles appear out of nowhere and sun damage can lead to all sorts of problems. Many of Dr. Riahi’s patients come to him complaining that lines and wrinkles make them look tired.
“These people are energetic, but they feel their appearance doesn’t match their vigor,” he says. “With the right combination of therapies, these issues can be greatly improved.”
Fortunately, many of these “therapies” don’t have to happen in a dermatologist’s clinic. We can do them on our own.
6 strategies everyone can use to improve skin appearance
- Use a good sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher when out in the sun.
- Be aware of the amount of sun you’re taking in while driving.
- Whenever possible, wear clothing that protects your skin from the sun.
- Eat more water-based foods like fruits and vegetables.
- Drink pure water all day long to remain hydrated; avoid excess coffee and alcohol, which dehydrate the body.
- Get plenty of sleep to give your body a chance to heal itself.
In modern American society, most people are very interested in looking their best. Nice skin goes hand-in-hand with a more youthful attitude and higher self-esteem. As we have seen, each of us can engage in healthier lifestyles to help ward off some of the signs of aging in our skin. And when that’s not enough, there are a multitude of treatments that have brought amazing results to millions of people.
But if you’re still dead-set on traveling the world to find the “Fountain of Youth,” make sure to take along your sunscreen.