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One Doctor’s Plan for Graceful Aging

Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH - Blogs
By Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPHBoard-certified internistJanuary 13, 2017
From the WebMD Archives

I recently got invited to a “Botox & Bagels Party,” and it really sent me into a tailspin. Am I at the age where I need a whole new arsenal to fight aging? Do I have age marks now that I’ve blissfully not noticed, but should? Am I missing out on something women around me are secretly doing to look younger?

After the initial shock, and a long look in the mirror (both literally and figuratively), I took some time to reassess my antiaging regimen.

Here’s my plan to age gracefully:

1. Sun Protection. I put sunscreen on every morning – even on cloudy work days. And when I head to the pool with my kids during the summer, I slather it on and repeat regularly. I wear a big hat, and sunglasses. And I’m getting better about long sleeve cover-ups. The one area that still probably needs more protection is my hands – I wish gloves were in style!

2. Exercise. My skin glows when I’m exercising regularly, but I’ll admit – it can be really hard to find the time to do it. I keep at it, though, because I know that I’m getting much more from exercise than glowing skin. Working out keeps my weight in check, which helps me avoid chronic medical conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and arthritis that would stress my body. And, I want to stay in shape so I’m able to keep up with my family & friends. I get major FOMO – I don’t want to miss out on anything! And I know the key to looking young is staying young at heart.

3. Alcohol. Okay, so this is a work in progress for me. The truth is, I like cocktails and wine (in moderation of course!). But, besides the taste, there aren’t many pros to alcohol. I get puffy eyes (not good on camera!). And when I have a drink, I eat more, and I don’t need the calories. Then, to top it off, there’s the fact that alcohol is known to increase your risk of cancer! That certainly won’t help my future older self. But, it’s funny, for all the stats and research that comes across my desk working at WebMD, the factoid that stuck out to me: Jennifer Lopez avoids alcohol because it’s bad for her skin. And who doesn’t want to look like J.Lo? I’m trying out a “dry January,” so I’ll be curious to see if I notice any differences.

4. Nighttime routine. I wish I could say I do this every evening, but I’m trying! Most of the time I do get through it. Going to sleep with a clean, moisturized face is important. I use a facial wipe to get my makeup off, wash with a gentle cleanser, smooth on moisturizer, and apply my acne medication. The retinoid for my acne does double duty reducing signs of aging, so that’s a bonus. I also floss and brush my teeth. A smile makes everyone look younger!

5. Sleep. When I don’t get enough sleep, I’m grumpy and the little wrinkle between my eyebrows becomes more prominent. I learned a while ago if I’m not sleeping enough, then my life must have too much stress. That’s my cue to slow down at home or in the office, reassess my situation, and make adjustments. Maybe I need to face whatever has me worrying and anxious. Or, maybe I need to just say “no” to something and hand off responsibilities. Then I sleep, and I wake up a more pleasant self with bright eyes and no eyebrow wrinkle.

Maybe you’re wondering what happened at that Botox & Bagels Party? Well, I didn’t go – it was on a Saturday morning and I felt like sleeping in and playing with my kids. For now, that little wrinkle seems to come and go, so I’m not bothered by it. But I’ll reassess again in a few years.

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About the Author
Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH

Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH is a board-certified internal medicine doctor and a WebMD Medical Editor. She is on the team that makes sure all WebMD content is medically correct, current and understandable. She sees patients at the Women’s Wellness Clinic at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

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