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

Facing The Big 3-0


I consider this for about a nanosecond, then realize that not only would I be flat broke, but with my face newly peeled, frozen, and inflated, I’d no longer be able to express my despair. Have we really reached the moment where aging is a complete no-no, to be stalled, or even reversed, at all costs?

Probably sensing my panic, Sobel concedes that there are many less extreme and much less costly over-the-counter options to soften most of my issues — except the one affecting my chin, for which he still suggests Botox. After I politely pass on any needle-based intervention, he sends me away with antioxidants (“the more, the better to help prevent the collagen breakdown”), gentle peels, sunblock, and this insight: “I don’t tell anyone they need lasers or injectables, but you have to decide if you’re OK with aging.”

At home, I try to re-create the stark conditions of Sobel’s exam room with 100-watt bulbs and my boyfriend’s shaving mirror. Yep, those “11’s” are still prominent, and my eyes do crinkle when I smile, but would anyone — besides my dentist — encounter me like this? I think of my skincare-obsessed mother who, enhancement-free at 61, looks reassuringly youthful yet wise — a quality that only comes with age.

Originally published on: April 18, 2008

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