50 Shades of Vanity
For those of you who read the first part of this email series on "50 Shades of Vanity” I would like you to join me in continuing the conversation about the new developments in anti-aging medicine and its impact on human psychology.
The threads that bind our consciousness together from outside, are padded with layers of Hyaluronic acid molecules (also known as the building blocks of our skin). As we age these essential threads become slippery and melt away causing our skin to lose its elasticity and architecture. And if you, like so many people around the world, have internalized negative stereotypes about the elderly, when the face that stares back at you in the mirror appears old, not only your ideas about yourself and your behavior but your actual physical health changes for the worse.
For the first time in known human history it has become possible to not only halt the ongoing aging of your skin but also to reverse decades of damage. This has been made possible with the use of FDA approved and cleared medications and machines. At Juvanni we have been utilizing these tools and protocols for almost over a decade now. We have encountered people from all races and all age groups improve their lifespan with agency and more energy in preserving their health and wellness.
These processes of rejuvenating your skin as you go through time may seem like vanity, when seen superficially, but keeping your skin intact can contribute substantially to your ability to maintain a positive self-image, remain vital, productive, sexually active and to extend health and meaningful flourishing into the later stages of a life that the rest of medical science has done so much to extend.
I know this firsthand, because a decade ago I also retired as a Geriatrician to work solely in the field of Anti-aging Medicine. At that point I was a medical director of a nursing facility with short term rehab capacity. I followed patients through not just the facility but also their acute breakdowns which landed them in the hospital. I prided myself in understanding the nature of aging alongside the various 21st century medications and procedures available to prolong their lifespans.
But nothing helped the people in assisted care or nursing homes return to full health, happiness or flourishing. Instead, the people who could still think clearly referred to the nursing facility as the “waiting rooms of death” and their occasional life-saving visits to the hospital as visits to hell, with no way out other than dying sooner or later from one thing or another. I would tell them that the roads to hell are paved with armies of angels who swear an oath to assist them in not only keeping out of hospitals but hopefully also easing their path into life and health.
But the lack of agency or health for the elderly in the last parts of their lifespans despite all the spending on medications and facilities, became strikingly evident. My understanding of successful aging deepened after a decade’s work of building and running an anti-aging center. I no longer feared aging.
Philosophically I know that control is an illusion, but I also see in my daily practice the agency I help my patients exercise over the process of aging, and I know first-hand how I gained the power to preserve and extend not just my appearance, but also my mood, my health, and my energy.
I have come to believe through my own experience and by working with patients that becoming invisible and powerless was only for those who remained unaware of, or could not afford, the magic of this new science. Even though anti-aging of the skin doesn’t grant us immortality, we begin to respect the fabric more!
Just like your heart or your kidneys may ultimately fail, your skin, which medically speaking is the largest organ in the human body also fails. Your skin is like a bag that holds and shapes your consciousness through the decades that you spend on this planet. The earth’s gravity transmits through the topsoil to bind and hold your skin to this planet. Your skin not only holds you together but is also a barrier that separates you from the rest of the universe. Did you know that your skin is not just the largest but also the most expensive fabric that you will ever own. When your skin fails, it falls, pulling your mood, affect and memory down until it’s part of the topsoil all over again. The noted Harvard psychologist, Dr. Ellen Langer, makes the following observation in her book, Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility:
If we put the ideas of the experiments just described together, we end up with an interesting idea: if I think I look younger, I should be younger on whatever measures of age we take. Further, I may now exercise more, which may have added benefits…Vanity in this case, then, may pay off. (p.119)
One thing that I noted during my time in the nursing facility was the lack of mirrors! People hated to look at themselves. Seeing in their reflections the declining architecture of their faces made them uniformly sad. As I worked and experienced in the newly developing field of anti-aging and aesthetics medicine, I realized that most of the sadness was from a lack of agency over how quickly their body was disintegrating.
Billions of humans have lived and died before us, wondering how to gain agency over the speed with which their system aged, and despite the best available 21st century care and medications, most of the medical profession is strikingly indifferent to this aspect of aging. Indeed, modern medicine has helped us double and triple our lifespans over the past century, but at the same time it has medicalized aging, treating it like an inevitable process of decline or, even worse, simply a disease! As a result, as Louise Aranson, the pioneering geriatrician and professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco notes:
The experiences of older people in our health care system are indicative of how current medical practice is broken for all of us. We have created a society where we do everything possible to stay alive yet dread being old, a culture that discards people who don’t fit the latest human “product specifications,” and a health system in which the work of medicine is often incompatible with both care and health…We desperately want our elderhood to be long, meaningful, and satisfying, yet most of us refuse to approach it with the same shameless ambition we reflexively accord childhood and adulthood. (Elderhood, pp.8-9)
This is where anti-aging medicine intervenes to revolutionize both medicine and the process of aging! Anti-aging is the health and wellness of your future and the amount of anti-aging someone may need can potentially be measured according to your sense and degree of vanity.
Vanity is a skill which your mom and dad told you to ignore and definitely not focus upon unless you are a girl of a certain age but guess what, they were wrong! If you have read this far, I wish you to redefine the value a judicious amount of vanity may hold for you. Please today is the day that you remind yourself to connect with the essence of the truth of your own life, which is nothing but pure beauty! If the answer is anything but that! Please seek help! I understand your skepticism of mental health’s scope and breadth. Yes, psychiatry (unless it’s in-patient hospital based) has been pretty much a failed part of medical science still. But have a heart and give us a minute or two! We are learning as fast as we can!
And you will know that you have connected with your true self when it fails to give you anything but pure joy of being alive daily! Being energetic daily, being healthy and seeking to say No Thank You to dying ... daily!
Death walks besides us and can be our ally if we don’t annoy it too much. On most days, anti-aging is similar to defying death daily, just like you defy your teeth falling away daily by brushing them (and some days you miss brushing your teeth because you can be a rebel too! How risqué).
On this beautiful Valentine's Day, I wish you ongoing good health, long enough to enjoy the ride of a seriously long lifespan which grants you agency over your bodily function till its last moment.
Viva la beauty!