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Outrage of the Month: Exploiting The Desire for Younger-Looking Skin

Health Letter, September 2013

By Sidney M. Wolfe, M.D.


If you’re not outraged,
you’re not paying attention!

Read what Public Citizen has to say about the biggest blunders and outrageous offenses in the world of public health, published monthly in Health Letter.

As we age, ideally we add the wisdom that comes only with living longer. But our bodies also inevitably age, most notably in the form of facial wrinkles that many people want to reduce – even erase – in order to appear younger to themselves and others.

Much has been written about the growing use of cosmetic Botox and collagen facial injections to address the signs of aging. Now ABC News has reviewed three unusual and outrageous treatments commercialized in this country.

The Geisha Facial: This treatment purports to boost facial complexion using a combination of steam treatment, aroma therapy and a paste made from powdered nightingale feces.

The Vampire Facelift: Blood is drawn from the patient, treated and then injected into the face to smooth out undesired wrinkles.

Face Slapping: Everyone knows that when we get injured, there is often accompanying swelling. ABC News describes this treatment as a process in which a “masseuse slaps the age right off her customers’ faces.”

Although none of these treatments are even semi-permanent, they all are expensive and raise serious questions about some people’s unwillingness to age gracefully. While some aspects of aging can be dealt with through adequate physical and mental exercise and a healthy diet, the accompanying wrinkles had best be left alone — at least not slapped, injected with blood or other chemicals, or rubbed with animal feces. Increasingly, when we see people whose faces do not “look their age,” the reason is that we are not really seeing their own faces.