Troy plastic surgeon shares fountain of youth tips in new book

Stephanie Steinberg
The Detroit News
Dr. Anthony Youn regul­arly appears on “The Doctors,” “Dr. Oz” and “The Rachael Ray Show.”
  • Avoid sugar; it lurks in white bread, bagels and pasta. Refined carbohydrates forces the body to release insulin and causes blood sugar to spike.

Want to look 10 years younger without plastic surgery or slathering your skin with expensive creams? It’s possible, plastic surgeon Dr. Anthony Youn says.

Youn has an office in Troy, where patients fly in from across the country to seek his anti-aging expertise. It might be because he regularly appears on “The Doctors,” “Dr. Oz” and “The Rachael Ray Show” — or viewers caught his 2004 debut on “Dr. 90210.” But his success may also be due to his nonsurgical approach to getting people looking and feeling their best.

For every one person he operates on, Youn estimates there’s 30 others whom he treats with chemical peels, laser treatments, injections and skin-care products.

“I believe very, very strongly that you should only have surgery as a last resort,” he explains, while sipping a Starbucks tea in Birmingham, where he resides with his wife and two children. From diet and exercise, to over-the-counter creams and remedies you can concoct from your refrigerator, Youn says he can “help people feel better about their appearance and hopefully have them avoid going under the knife.”

Youn, 44, compiled his tricks of the trade from his past 16 years as a plastic surgeon into his second book, “The Age Fix” (Grand Central Life & Style, $27), released Tuesday.

“It’s the first book written by a plastic surgeon about how not to have plastic surgery,” Youn says.

While most books by his colleagues focus on operations such as face lifts, breast augmentations and eye lifts, “The Age Fix” will tell you how to stay out of the operating room. Some medical issues do require plastic surgery, which the book addresses, along with a host of beauty concerns: hair loss, excessive sweating and bad breath, to name a few.

4 steps to youthful skin

If you want to turn back the clock, take the following four steps. “You’ll be way ahead of everyone else,” Youn says.

■Apply an antioxidant every morning. Our skin gets attacked during the day by all sorts of things: pollution, UV radiation, secondhand smoke, foods we eat.

“Everybody should apply some type of an antioxidant cream to their skin every morning, because that’s going to protect your skin from pretty much everything,” Youn says.

He recommends a vitamin C serum, which is loaded with antioxidants that protect your body from free radicals. These damaging molecules can make skin loose, wrinkled and thin.

■Slather on an ounce of sunscreen every morning. The sun is the No. 1 external cause of premature aging, Youn says. Applying sunscreen (after the antioxidant) with at least SPF 30 and UVA and UVB protection will help slow down the aging process and protect against skin cancers.

■Apply an anti-aging cream every night. Youn recommends applying a pea-size of retinol cream, a form of vitamin A, before going to bed, so it can work its magic while you sleep. The prescription form of retinol is retin-A, or tretinoin.

“Those creams are scientifically proven to decrease aging, tighten skin and reduce fine lines,” Youn says.

Retin-A is even shown to reverse early pre-skin cancers, he adds.

Dr. Anthony Youn, author of "The Age Fix."

“If you can pick one anti-aging cream, that’s what you should pick.” If the prescription strength retin-A causes irritation, Youn suggests a weaker over-the-counter retinol such as Neutrogena’s Rapid Wrinkle Repair or RoC Retinol Correxion.

■Exfoliate two to three times a week. (If you have sensitive skin, exfoliate once a week.) When we’re younger, our skin regenerates new cells every six to eight weeks, Youn explains. That’s why teenagers have softer, wrinkle-free skin. As we age, the process slows down.

“Skin cells start clumping up the surface irregularly, our skin gets drier, it gets uneven in texture — you lose that radiance of youth, because it’s not turning over as quickly,” Youn says.

Exfoliation can save the day by getting rid of upper-layer dead skin cells.

It also “sends a chemical signal to the deeper skin to actually start turning over more quickly, ” Youn says.

Any over-the-counter exfoliator will get the job done. Youn points out you can even make your own by adding a couple tablespoons of sugar to your body wash.

Eat this, not that

“The food that we eat can have profound effects on how we age,” Youn says.

Luckily, there are a few easy food swaps you can make to combat aging. Try these:

Choose wheat over white. “The No. 1 thing in our diet that causes us to age prematurely is sugar,” Youn says.

Unfortunately, sugar isn’t just in the obvious — cookies, donuts, cake — it lurks in white bread, bagels and pasta. When you eat these refined carbohydrates, your body releases insulin and causes your blood sugar to spike.

“Frequent blood sugar and insulin spikes result in inflammation,” which then damages the collagen in our skin, Youn says.

Besides inflammation, sugar causes glycation — a process where sugar molecules bond to collagen and elastin, the building blocks of our skin, and deforms them.

“That causes skin to age more quickly,” Youn explains.

Does this mean no more sandwiches? Not exactly. You just have to make smarter choices. Choose whole wheat instead of white whenever possible. If you’re at a hotel with a free breakfast, and all they offer is white bagels, Youn advises spreading peanut butter on it.

“(Protein) can actually help slow down that sugar release, so that you don’t get quite the spike,” Youn says.

Drink green tea over coffee. Black coffee has beneficial antioxidants, but most of us add sugar and cream or order Starbucks’ new caramelized honey latte with who knows what in it.

“When you add all these additives, it can become very bad for you,” Youn says.

To avoid inflammation, Youn encourages coffee lovers to swap their cup of joe with a cup of green tea. You can ease into it, too. Say you typically drink four cups a day. Trade one for green tea.

“You still get your caffeine fix, but you also get a lot more of the antioxidants,” Youn says.

And there’s a health bonus: Studies show drinking green tea can help your concentration and focus.

Buy fresh over canned or processed. Youn grew up in Greenville, Michigan — what he describes as “a very meat-and-potatoes small town.”

He’s since left his childhood diet behind in favor of fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably from farmers markets, since the antioxidants in vitamins will be less degraded after the produce is harvested.

He gives vitamin C-packed oranges as an example. “It’s much, much better for you to eat oranges very shortly after they’re plucked from the tree, versus eating them from a can, because that vitamin C is going to be much more potent.”

Watch your vices

Avoid smoking. This isn’t “groundbreaking” advice, as Youn puts it, but smoking is one of the worst things you can do to age yourself.

“Multiple studies have proven that smoking actually causes wrinkles. It dries your skin out,” Youn says. “I can actually spot somebody who’s a smoker within seconds of walking into my office. I don’t have to smell them. I look at their skin, and I can tell.”

While the effects of smoking may wear off on your lungs and heart over time, the habit can cause permanent damage to your skin.

“Those wrinkles don’t erase,” Youn says.

Limit alcohol. Here’s some advice you might like: It’s OK to pour that glass of merlot with your wheat pasta. Red wine is filled with resveratrol, an antioxidant, which we established are good for you. But keep in mind while one glass is OK, you don’t want to down the whole bottle.

“When you start having more than (one glass),” Youn warns, “then the negative effects of the alcohol start taking over.”

Remember, the goal is to look 10 years younger — not take 10 years off your life.


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Twitter: @steph_steinberg