Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Study Shows Behavioral Choices Are the Real Culprits of an Aging Face

WebMD Health News

Genes vs. Behavior: What Makes Us Age?

Feb. 5, 2009 -- Genes play a role in your appearance as you get older, but the real villains of the wrinkles of aging involve behavioral choices such as smoking, eating, and sun exposure, a new study shows.

The study is published online in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Environmental factors and personal lifestyle choices more than genes can add years to a person's appearance, study researcher Bahman Guyuron, MD, chairman of the department of plastic surgery at University Hospitals, Case Medical Center in Cleveland, tells WebMD.

The study involved 186 pairs of identical twins. During the study, researchers obtained comprehensive questionnaires and digital images from all the twins. An independent panel reviewed the images and recorded perceived age differences between the siblings.

Guyuron says the study suggests that non-genetic factors may be major culprits for wrinkles, lines, and blotches. But anything that fills your life with stress, such as a job you hate or too much debt, can also draw lines all over your face later in life, he says.

"Identical twins, unless they behave exactly the same, will exhibit their different lifetime experiences on their faces," he says. "If the biological clock is designed to make you age in a certain way, you can alter that by eliminating some of the external factors that make you age faster."

Guyuron says these factors include smoking, alcohol consumption, and food intake. Depression also can lead to lines and wrinkles, even if people with that condition take antidepressants.

He tells WebMD that relaxation of facial muscles due to use of antidepressants might be why more sagging was recorded in twins taking such medications. But it's not a "might," he adds, that stress is "a common denominator" of looking older.

Richard Winer, MD, an Atlanta psychiatrist, says in his 24 years of practice, he's noticed that people who take antidepressants soon look better and develop fewer lines as they age.

"When people are depressed, there is a tendency not to take care of yourself, and maybe to smoke and drink more," he tells WebMD. "Generally speaking, when people are happier, they tend to look younger. Colleagues have noticed the same thing."

Brush Up on Beauty

URAC: Accredited Health Web Site TRUSTe online privacy certification HONcode Seal AdChoices