The future of your face

A rundown of age-defying techniques coming, we hope not too soon, to a face near yours.


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Catherine Price
January 15, 2008 9:37PM (UTC)

Nothing says "good morning" like a stem-cell injection in your face. Or, rather, an update on what kinds of age-defying treatments are in the works for us. So I bring you great news: An article from the Telegraph reporting on potential beauty fixes that make Botox look like, well, a shot of botulinium toxin to the forehead. Here, a summary of some of the highlights:

The most space-agey: Icy Beauty's Icy Quick Lift skin creams. Developed in collaboration with the European Space Agency, these creams work in two frosty stages. First, the packaging uses "water evaporation under vacuum," says the Telegraph, to cool the cream to 36 degrees Fahrenheit, helping it to "instantly lift the skin when applied." (The result? A supposed 32 percent reduction in wrinkles in an hour.) But as if that wasn't enough, the freezing temperature shrinks some of the cream's lipids, allowing them to slip more easily through your pores. Once they're under your skin, body heat warms those lipids up and makes them expand back to their original size, which helps them to "'fill in' wrinkles from the inside by pushing them toward the skin's surface." Sort of like reinflating a balloon.

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The most efficient: So you want bigger breasts and a smaller bottom? Why waste all that fat left over from liposuctioning when you could just implant it into your boobs? That's the logic behind a technique currently in trials that takes fat from places where you don't want it and implants it in places where you do. By using your own fat to beef up your bustline, you might avoid risk of infection and rejection that come with having foreign fat cells injected into your tissue. The Telegraph reports that these early studies show that about 75 percent of the implanted fat actually stays in the breast (as opposed to migrating elsewhere). It also refers to this technique as "'natural' augmentation" -- a choice of words that I find a little questionable, unless it would also be considered "natural" to, I don't know, cut off a foot and reattach it to your head.

The most politically controversial: stem cells. Well, actually, that's a little misleading: The Telegraph points out that it's impossible to incorporate live materials into a skin-care product -- and even if it were, embryos would likely not be involved. But you can create skin-care products that claim to protect your preexisting skin cells from damage and deterioration -- which is important because stem cells play a role in helping skin look young. The result? A moisturizing line from Dior called "Capture R60/80 XP." Doesn't that sound reassuringly scientific?

Actually, I shouldn't mock its science, considering the other stem cell treatment making waves: Stem cell injections. Yup. A spa in Moscow offers a service where they supposedly harvest stem cells from your fat tissue (keep in mind that harvesting stem cells is very complicated, and that this procedure's effectiveness has not been proven), culture them in a lab, and then inject them into your face. This supposedly erases wrinkles. And costs 15,000 pounds. And, according to one expert quoted by the Telegraph, is probably pointless.

My favorite: Skull lifts. I think I like this one because of my Uncle Bob, a cantankerous old man who, in my memory at least, was always exactly 85 years old. Bob -- who was bald -- liked to pull a prank on Halloween by using masking tape on the back of his head to pull his jowls taut and then wear a large hat to cover his telltale adhesive. Instant face-lift! (And it costs less than $5.) But Bob, for all his ingenuity, had nothing on the researchers from Duke University who have determined that our facial bone structures actually change as we get older. What's the solution? Figure out the chemical pathways that drive the changes in our bones and then intercept them, possibly with a needle that, as a Duke researcher put it, could pass "through the skin and soft tissues of the cheek to reach the bone, in a clinical setting with no need for recovery time."

I think I'd prefer the tape.


Catherine Price

Catherine Price is an award-winning journalist and author of Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food. Her written and multimedia work has appeared in publications including The Best American Science Writing, The New York Times, Popular Science, O: The Oprah Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post Magazine, Salon, Slate, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, PARADE, Health Magazine, and Outside. Price lives in Philadelphia.

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