Buyer beware: Experts urge caution when using unproven anti-aging treatments
June 15, 2012
Many people who want to achieve a more youthful appearance often use creams and lotions in addition to any surgical or nonsurgical cosmetic procedure such as injections of Botulinium Toxin Type A or hyaluronic acid, laser treatments, chemical peels, microdermabrasion or a facelift. However, a US News and World health report warns that many commonly-used over-the-counter anti-aging treatments may not deliver results - and some may even be dangerous.
The report emphasizes the need for consumers and patients to be careful when purchasing expensive creams, taking vitamin supplements and receiving anti-aging hormone treatments. Much of the field is unregulated and might do more than waste money. In March 2012, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned against mercury in some skin products that have found their way illegally into the country.
"Exposure to mercury can have serious health consequences," said FDA medical advisor Dr. Charles Lee. "It can damage the kidneys and the nervous system, and interfere with the development of the brain in unborn children and very young children."
"The FDA classifies creams and lotions as cosmetics, which are defined as having no medical value," explained the Mayo Clinic. "So the FDA regulates them less strictly than it does drugs. This means that products don't undergo the same rigorous testing for safety and effectiveness that topically applied medications undergo before approval to go on the market."
An August 2011 study conducted by Consumer Reports found that most wrinkle creams are largely ineffective. Nearly 80 participants used various lotions for a period of 12 weeks and had their appearance evaluated by sensory panelists who compared the appearance of their skin through photographs at various intervals throughout the study. Overall, the study found that these anti-wrinkle creams are only slightly effective, and not for everyone who uses them.
Experts say the efficacy of any over-the-counter anti-aging product may depend on your skin type, how often it is used and how you use it. Individuals interested in keeping their skin looking youthful should take common sense steps to protect it such as using sunscreen, eating healthy and avoiding smoking.
A 2007 Aesthetic Surgery Journal article found that many over-the-counter topical products do not have any science behind their claims. Their studies found that while Vitmain C, alpha-hydroxy acids and some ingredients are proven, many ingredients in products cannot live up to their advertising. Researchers also found that keeping the skin hydrated and moisturized did the most to help the overall appearance of the skin.
Those who want help keeping the skin healthy and young-looking should consider discussing their options with a licensed, board-certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist.
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world's leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body. ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; Active Members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and nonsurgical aesthetic procedures. International Active Members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.
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