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Is Prozac Aging Your Face?

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There were surprising findings in a recent “twin study” published on the website version of the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Journal of the ASPS (American Society of Plastic Surgeons).

Science has shown that twins identically age, inasmuch as they are genetically identical. Notwithstanding that fact, many of us have seen the photo studies of twins in which one twin was a smoker and the other was not, making it clear that environmental choices can influence aging regardless of genetics. However, a new twin study reveals that other choices, such as the timing of weight gain or loss, the use of antidepressants, and being divorced, also influence our perceived age.

Divorce Ages Us

The study’s author, Bahaman Guyuron, MD, professor and chairman, department of plastic surgery, University Hospitals Case Medical Center and his research colleagues obtained questionnaires and digital photos of 186 pairs of identical twins. The photos were then shared with an independent panel of individuals who were asked to estimate the perceived age difference between the sibling pairs. Surprisingly, twins who were divorced looked approximately two years older than their still-married sibs.

Even more surprising? Weight loss and gain can affect your perceived age, depending upon whether you lose or gain the weight before or after the age of 40. In the twin sets that were over the age of 40, the heavier twin was thought to be younger. In the under-40 group, the twin who was thinner appeared to be the younger twin!

Antidepressants played a role as well. Twins who were on prescription antidepressants were perceived as significantly older, possibly due to the consistent relaxation of facial muscles that occurs with antidepressant usage.  This relaxation can lead to facial sagging, creating an older appearance.

“This research is important for two reasons,” Dr. Guyuron said. “First, we have discovered a number of new factors that contribute to aging and second, our findings put science behind the idea that volume replacement rejuvenates the face.”

We heartily second Dr. Guyuron’s finding in that regard. A face that is soft and full is younger looking than a face that is tightly pulled. That’s why a “liquid face lift”can take years off one’s appearance: because the use of dermal fillers can plump up the hollows and recreate the look of a youthful face. And it’s another reason that the “old” face lifts of the past, that simply pulled back sagging facial skin and tissue, did little to create the vision of youthfulness. The wrinkles were gone, yes, but so was the volume. Volume that’s created with dermal fillers, such as Sculptra, Restylane, Juvederm and Perlane can help “hold off” a face lift and, when a face lift is the next logical step, fat can be removed via liposuction and inserted into the face to add volume along with the lift.