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Facing The Big 3-0

Hitting panic as she enters a new decade, Ying Chu considers the art of aging with just a little help.

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The solutions Gross is talking about include the many topical and minimally invasive cosmetic treatments that have been embraced by his 20- and 50-something patients alike. From glycolic peels and nonablative lasers like VBeam and Mixto SX CO2 to injectables such as Restylane, Juvederm, and the ever-popular Botox (despite its recent FDA controversy), in-office choices tallied up to over 9.5 million procedures in 2007 in the U.S.

And it’s no wonder women account for 92 percent of that aesthetic tweaking. For us, there’s a physiological tug-of-war between youth and beauty. The same delicate skin that allows women to be more characteristically feminine and expressive is the reason that we crease earlier than men, explains Dr. Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas, assistant clinical professor at the Yale School of Medicine. “How that plays out for an individual depends on your genetics” — how dense and resilient your collagen is — “how you’ve protected your skin from sun and pollution, and your habits with facial expressions.”

As I try not to furrow my brow, I recount my past sun sins: tanning in my teens; running, biking, and skiing in my 20s without reapplying SPF. Not horrible, but I decide that I need a more thorough analysis.

At my request, Sobel examines my 30-year-old mug — through his intimidating magnifying glasses, while I sit under a megawatt examination lamp the size of a golf umbrella — and concludes that while I am indeed a young 30, I have a laundry list of “compromised” issues typical of women my age. This includes telangiectasia (aka spider veins) cropping up around my nose; a sprinkling of brown sunspots across the tops of my apples; and deflating cheeks, which are causing slight nasal labial folds to form around my mouth. (And I had always thought of my cheeks as too chubby.) He also offers up Botox right then and there for my developing crow’s-feet, “11” lines, and peau d’orange chin. (Apparently, when I purse my bottom lip and crinkle my chin when feeling inquisitive, my skin resembles an orange peel, something I’d never considered . . . until now.) Total bill? About $3750, with touch-ups every four months.

Brush Up on Beauty

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