Intentional aging is trending. This is essentially when people choose to forgo plastic surgery and opt for more minimally invasive anti-aging treatments like lasers or microneedling to keep up with the aging process as it goes. Experts say people often come into their office seeking the most natural-looking results possible, which might mean an injectable rather than a facelift. While this does depend on the patient, their age, skin type and how much heavy lifting is involved there is a trend towards aging more intentionally.
Miami dermatologist Dr. Deborah Longwill says she has noticed this trend picking up steam. “Over the last ten years, we have seen a massive increase in cosmetic fillers, Botox, rejuvenating laser and light treatments and many more innovative non-invasive procedures,” she says. New York dermatologist Julie Russak, MD says she’s even noticed the trend among her younger patient population. “They understand the concept of ‘pre-aging’ or, as you say, ‘intentional aging,’” says Dr. Russak. “As the science of aging is evolving and we develop a deeper understanding of the aging process, there is more thought that goes into it for my patients.” While Louisville, KY dermatologist Tami Buss Cassis, MD says she’s not heard the term intentional aging specifically, this is what she’s offered in her practice for the last 18 years, as have many dermatologists.
It’s all about being more proactive
As Dr. Russak noted, her younger patients are on top of their aging early on. Gone are the days that women wait until they’re in their 40s-60s to start neurotoxin injections, and already needing a facelift, says Dr. Russak. “Starting to address the cause of visible signs of aging earlier on, before the need for drastic measures like a facelift is the new trend.” Intentional aging allows you to keep up with signs of aging as they come rather than have to reduce 20 years of wrinkles down the road.
Avoiding surgery and downtime
“We have consistently had patients tell us they want to do whatever they can to avoid surgery,” says Dr. Buss Cassis. “I consistently hear, I want to look ‘natural and subtle. I want to keep my friends guessing what I’ve had done.’ My patients really don’t want drastic changes.” Dr. Longwill agrees that most patients she sees “want the fastest results with minor pain and downtime, and some noninvasive treatments can achieve these results without surgery.”
When you skip surgery for a minimally invasive procedure, your downtime shrinks as well. “Most of my busy patients just don’t want to give up six weeks to heal,” says Dr. Buss Cassis. “We are just getting our lives back. Nobody wants to waste a minute.”
Intentional aging helps you keep up with the aging process
Dr. Buss Cassis likes to look at in-office treatments as keeping up with aging. “I look at it like eating healthy and exercising. Slow and steady will always win the race,” says Dr. Buss Cassis. She feels the aging process needs to be combatted “with all the tools in the board-certified dermatologist toolbox, ie; skin care, lasers, neurotoxins, fillers,” noting that most people will need a combination of these. “The aging process is on a continuum, always a work in progress,” says Dr. Buss Cassis., so treatment plans should shift as years go on.
A facelift isn’t a cure-all
Yes, facelifts have fantastic, life-changing results, but that doesn’t mean you never need to take care of your skin again. “I think we are moving the perception off of ‘just get a facelift and you will be happy.’ That is never the case,” says Dr. Buss Cassis. “You still need to maintain your skin and will need to do the [other treatments] to maintain what you have accomplished.”
The social media factor
Dr. Longwill speculates that social media is part of why non-invasive treatments are trending. “Social media accounts are very public and comfortable sharing details on cosmetic injectables and treatments,” says Dr. Longwill. “In just one swipe, one can watch the process of injectable fillers and see the magnificent results.”
What does intentional aging consist of?
Intentional aging is tailored to each patient depending on a variety of factors, from skin type to goals. Although it varies per person, Dr. Longwill says “a combination of SPF, a skin barrier serum, lasers that target aging and dull skin, facials, neurotoxins and topical creams such as retinol” can be involved. “Non-invasive treatments work synergistically to get the best results with very little downtime. The consultation is the best time to discuss a plan of treatments to achieve one’s goals.”
Dr. Russak says it all starts with our understanding that epigenetic aging is something we can influence. “Yes, we all have the same set of genes, but we all age differently. So what are the factors that influence our aging?” For example, we know that improving intercellular energy helps cells stay younger and healthier for longer, says Dr. Russak. Therefore, treatments that stimulate intercellular energy help improve the production of collagen, elastin and all the supporting structures in the face, she explains.
Similarly, using neuromodulators earlier on helps decrease the effects of the strain on the muscles and skin to prevent lines from happening in the first place rather than treating them once they’ve appeared, says Dr. Russak. Additionally, “using energy devices to stimulate cellular regeneration and improve repopulation of the skin with healthier, new progenitive cells to decrease the effects of environmental stressors from the outside on the cells of the skin improves the appearance of discoloration and fine lines.”
Take a holistic approach
Beyond in-office treatments and pricey topicals, there are other key things you can do to keep up with aging. Dr. Russak says it’s essential to understand the “close relationship between the microbiome of the skin, the gut microbiome and the health of the skin. Addressing that with the right food and supplements improves healthier aging and repairing of one’s own skin.”