Exciting New Technologies Could Change the Way We Age
On April 15, 2002, the FDA approved a temporary treatment for wrinkles that would revolutionize aging. All of a sudden, you could waltz into a derm’s office and get your frown lines ironed out faster than it would take to iron an actual shirt. It was called botulinum toxin, Botox for short.
Eighteen years later, a few units of Botox every three months has become the norm for millions around the world (more than seven million yearly in the U.S. alone). Now, if someone had told your grandparents, or even your parents, 20 years ago that people would be getting their foreheads frozen to look younger, they likely would have scoffed at the idea. So just imagine what other wild fixes could be coming to a medi-spa near you.
“It’s exciting to think about how the next 10 years will look,” says Dr. Rohan Bissoondath, medical director of Calgary’s Preventous Cosmetic Medicine clinic. “With lifespan increasing, people are routinely going to be living into their hundreds, so we want to look great as well.” From magic pills to creams that mimic injections, we take a look at the incredible innovations on the horizon.
You won’t need surgery to lift your face
The way science is progressing, facelifts are set to become obsolete, says Dr. Lisa Kellett of Toronto’s DLK on Avenue. “I think that the gold standard will eventually be finding ways to regenerate and kick-start our own collagen instead of doing a facelift.” Kellett is already trying out cutting-edge technology to accomplish this, such as a laser that delivers growth factors right in the dermis to regenerate tissue. It’s pretty snazzy stuff, but she anticipates even greater advances in coming years. “I think we’ll be able to use stem cells in conjunction with technology to regenerate collagen—I think that’s what we’ll be doing one day.”
You’ll (hopefully) be able to nix wrinkles without needles
Botox in a cream? “This has been in the pipeline for a while,” says Bissoondath. The challenge is getting the molecules to penetrate the skin so that they can act on the muscle. “Maybe on crow’s feet because it’s a thinner area, thinner muscles; that may be an area where we see some utility for it, but it’s still out there.” Topical Botox had some success in trials, but scientists still have kinks to work out. In the meantime, a Botox cream might be beneficial even if it doesn’t reach muscles, says Bissoondath. “I see the potential for having it in a cream and applying it to the whole face, not necessarily affecting facial expressions, but giving an improved glow and better skin quality.”
There’ll be more all-in-one solutions
If you want to smooth, you get Botox. If you want to brighten, you get IPL. If you want to tighten, you get Thermage. But what if there was a treatment that did it all? “I think that’s the future of aging,” says Kellett, who is just about to launch such a treatment at her clinic. Marketed as “the next generation of laser and light-based platform technology,” Etherea MX is a multiple modality device that can tackle everything from dark spots and skin laxity to textural issues and wrinkles. “It means that when patients come in, they’re not just doing one thing,” says the doc. Instead, in the same appointment, she’s able to address a variety of concerns with a single machine.
You’ll be able to take a pill instead of hitting the gym
Okay, this is very cool. “Something I think is possible is a pill to replace exercise,” says Bissoondath, who adds that this could be developed in the not so distant future. “With the advances we’re making in understanding the functions of our body down to the cellular level and intracellular level, and understanding how our mitochondria actually ages, we’re looking at ways now where we can manipulate that from a pill perspective.” The pill wouldn’t deliver all the benefits of physical activity, such as the positive impact on our mood, but it would replicate its effects on our body. “It won’t take the place of walking around outside and soaking up nature—it can’t do the mental part of it. But as far as the physiologic, biochemical part of it, we’re really understanding that better and making big strides. It’s exciting.”