Posts Tagged "appearance"

Wednesday Bubble: botox those emotions right out of your life

Posted by on Apr 27, 2011 in appearance, emotions | 1 comment

Still thinking about botox for your aging skin?  Well, you may take years off of y0ur face but it appears that you may also put up a barrier to one of the most important communication tools humans possess: the ability to accurately make emotional judgements based on expressions. Ultimately, this implies that botoxing not only smooths signs of aging but also numbs social interactions.

Bubble-worthy? You bet! This week we’re bursting the aging bubble wide open and challenging the societal push and pull towards the elusive Fountain of Youth.

So, what have researchers learned?

First, a bit of background and psychobabble. It is believed that facial expressions are powerful clues into inner thoughts and emotions, and that humans subconsciously mimic this expression  in order to decode, or perceive it. Less clear, however, is whether or not we can use these clues to make better judgements about one another.

To find this out, researchers conducted two experiments:

  • In the first, a small group of women received either Botox injections (which paralyze facial muscles) or Restylane filler (which plumps wrinkles) for the purpose of smoothing facial wrinkles that are most often associated with expression, i.e., frown lines, forehead and crows feet in the Botox group and frown and laugh lines in the Restylane group. They were then shown images used to convey emotional states through the eyes and surrounding areas only and asked to select the emotion that best demonstrated the respective expression.
  • In the second, the researchers applied a restrictive gel to the lower forehead, brow and area surrounding the eyes that when dried, would tighten facial muscle contractions in half the group, and then applied the gel to the inner arm in the other half. They then conducted a test in which the participants were asked to judge emotions in brief audio clips and then took a quiz that would measure how much brain power was used to evaluate emotional cues.

The findings?

Although botox didn’t completely block out women’s ability to discern emotional cues, perception was significantly lowered compared to women who had had Restylane. Interesting enough is that the researchers allude to a previous study that shows a similar dulling of reactions to emotional stimuli, implying that botox appears to interfere with emotional processing. What’s more, while the women who had restrictive gel applied to their face appeared to be better able to judge emotional expression but only the type that they would normally mimic themselves. However, the ability to judge audio emotions were the same whether the gel was applied to the face or inner arm. This suggests that facial muscle mimicry is essential.

So what do these findings really mean? Researchers say that it is possible that prolonged use of Botox could lead to changes in the way that our central nervous systems process emotions and even diminish the feedback we get from other people’s expressions. This may also effect social interactions and close relationships.

Is it an absolute? No. However, this information does suggestion that short-term gains in appearance might have longer term ramifications, such as interfering with important emotion cues and even the way the brain processes them.

I’m not sure that that’s worth the price of a smoother face. What do you think?

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‘Sad and saggy’

Posted by on May 4, 2009 in appearance | 9 comments

I’ve been thinking a lot about body image lately, and what it means, both to women and to society at large. In fact, in recent weeks, I’ve been confronted with my own demons; “do I look attractive,” “do I have too many lines,” “is my butt fat/thin/jiggly/firm/too big/too small,” etc etc etc.

These insecurities stem from many places but unfortunately, are often perpetuated in the media, whose images of teenage girls dressed and made up to look like women only serve to send the wrong messages — not only to ourselves, but to our daughters, our partners, our friends and the like.

Hence, I was struck by the title of this article that I stumbled across: “Sad and Saggy.” Written by a UK-based gynecologist, it proports to inform women why their breasts sags and what’s more, what they can do about it.

Mind you, the article is informative and attempts to take an empathetic approach. But the following phrases gave me pause:

“At the end of the day, you’ll just have to accept your breasts, saggy as they are! Don’t obsess about how unattractive they look….”

“We can’t all be young, attractive teenagers…”

So, I’d like to take a moment to say a few things to some of the  individuals in the world who have missed the memo.

Women are beautiful whether or not they have a few bumps, straight hair, curly hair, a few lines, or saggy breasts. While we can’t all be young attractive teenagers (frankly, I have no interest in being a teenager, attractive or not), we  all possess a beauty within and it is that beauty truly defines our appearance, how we carry ourselves, how we are seen by the outside world, how we feel about ourselves relative to others.

I grow tired of trying to live up to impossible, unattainable standards set by air brushed, young nubile teens who are anything but women. I am weary of being told that because I am aging, I am no longer as pretty “as…” And I am insulted by the lack of empathy by the multitudes of physicians who want women to believe that midlife (and menopause for that matter) and its effects can be solved by “x.”

Let’s get the core of the problems and see if we can work from the inside out, shall we?

Saggy breasts or not, we’re all human, we are all imperfect. But if you ask me, we’re all pretty damn special.

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Wednesday Bubble: Rub-a-dub-dub

Posted by on Sep 17, 2008 in appearance, estrogen | 2 comments

Is a youthful appearance only a rub-a-dub-dub away?

I ran across an interesting article in the UK’s Daily Telegraph on topical estrogen. Evidently, applying estrogen to the skin can stimulate collagen production and provide a more youthful appearance.

Seems like a great post for a Wednesday Bubble, right?

A closer read of the study on which the article was based suggests that it’s not quite that easy….or accurate.

Here’s what you need to know:

A University of Michigan research team evaluated the effects of applying various strengths of topical estrogen (estradiol) to the hip, forearm and face. Study participants comprised 40 postmenopausal women and 30 men (average age ~75 years). The cream, which varied in strength between 0.01% and 2.5%, was applied three times daily for two weeks. In addition to comparisons between the cream strengths, comparisons were also made to a placebo cream.

The results showed that topical estrogen applied to areas protected from the sun (i.e. the hip) increased production of procollagen I and III, and collagen I protein levels. For your information, pro-collagen type 1 is the precursor of collagen type 1, the most abundant form of collagen found in the body. Pro-collagen type III the precursor to the main component of the fibers that are found alongside the collagen.

However, no significant changes were observed in the photoaged skin of the forearm or the face, even though estrogen receptors were stimulated.

So, what’s the bottom line?

The study results suggest that while topical estrogen can stimulate collagen production in sun-protected areas, it does not affect the appearance of photo-aged skin, (i.e. skin that has been exposed to the sun or other elements).

In other words, topical estrogen is not yet a panacea for aging skin.

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