Monday, 22 June 2015 15:21

Sam Champion: Loving Life in Atlanta

By Amy Meadows

It was early 2010. Sam Champion, the beloved, award-winning weather anchor for ABC's top-rated "Good Morning America" was dealing with something that was all too familiar to him: skin cancer. His first diagnosis came in his mid-20s, and by his mid-40s, he knew the drill. He had five suspicious moles, and they had to be checked and treated by a dermatologist. "The problem is that there is no way to treat it other than to cut it out," Champion says. "But I'm on television every day, and that means that other people are aware of what's going on. When I have scars and loop stitches, people notice."

Twitter was just taking off, and Champion decided to reveal his skin cancer history to his growing number of followers. "It wasn't a conversation people were having on a regular basis. I just wanted to discuss with people why I had these scars and stitches," Champion explains. "I was so taken aback. I got a huge response. People were sending me pictures and asking if I thought they had skin cancer. I thought, 'We need to create awareness. People don't want to feel like they're being preached to, but we need get people talking about skin cancer.'"

With that in mind, Champion decided to have surgery live on air that May. He had a spot of basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer, removed from his left shoulder. The well-received piece allowed him to share more details about his personal experience and gave him a platform to create a new level of understanding about skin cancer. "I wanted people to know what I didn't know. When I was a kid, there was no discussion about skin cancer. You were told to get your first good burn of the year, and then your skin would acclimate. But I was a blond, blue-eyed kid. And every time you burn, you damage your skin," he notes. "The only way to prevent skin cancer is to use some kind of protection against the sun. Today, there is a huge variety of skin care products that include sunscreen. Those aisles in the stores are miles long, and they're there for a reason. Anyone can get skin cancer."

It's that kind of straightforward, educational discourse that has endeared Sam Champion to the millions of viewers who watch him every morning on television. Of course, today they tune in to The Weather Channel, Champion's home since early 2014, when he left GMA to serve as anchor of the flagship morning show "AMHQ: America's Morning Headquarters" and managing editor for the Atlanta-based weather network. The move may have surprised many people, but for Champion, it was a completely natural step.

SAM-1"I'm a project guy," he asserts. "A lot of people like to plan their career and know where they want to be. That was never me. I like a project. We took 'Good Morning America' to number one. We did that, so that project was done. And the opportunity with The Weather Channel came at a really wonderful time."
With a plan to move away from longer-form programs and reemphasize the weather again, The Weather Channel offered the perfect environment – and new project – for Champion, who was a longtime fan. Like many, he had become disillusioned by the shift in programming in recent years and was thrilled to hear about the new strategy. "I was a Weather Channel viewer. Like everyone else, I had to have my weather," he says. "And they wanted to get back to weather full time."

Champion's love for climate and science proved to be a perfect match for The Weather Channel's plan of action. The excitement of revamping the network's quality programming brought Champion back to the enthusiasm he felt during his earliest days in the industry. "In the '80s, the thing that excited me was live television. You could get a truck out there and be on a live feed and actually show people what was going on. Then in the '90s, there were all of these incredible computer graphics being used for the weather. It was something you'd never seen before. It was very visual, and I was drawn to that," he explains. "Today, we have even more knowledge. We can be live anywhere around the world in a moment's notice. And there really is zero competition for The Weather Channel in terms of being able to do that."

The feeling of admiration clearly is mutual. "Sam is one of the hardest working talents I have ever come across throughout my years in the television industry," says Nora Zimmett, senior vice president of live programming for The Weather Channel. "Not only is Sam terrific on air, but he is also an incredibly talented producer. He is able to view AMHQ and the whole network from multiple perspectives, which helps in the entire 360-degree production."

The opportunity also felt like the right move for Champion and his husband, Rubem Robierb, who married in December of 2012. New York City had been home to the couple, but relocating to Atlanta offered Champion the chance to do something that he truly enjoys. "I love learning a new town. I love exploring," he observes. "I grew up a military brat. My dad was a Marine, and we moved all over the world." Interestingly, Atlanta never made the list of cities in which he lived. In fact, the only time he visited the metro area was to report on the weather, from the severe droughts to the crippling ice and snowstorms of the past few years. However, once he and Robierb arrived, they quickly became taken with their new hometown.

SAM-2"We're outdoors people. We love the bike paths around the city, and we love living by Piedmont Park," Champion says of the couple, who split their time between Atlanta and Miami. They also enjoy the many dining options the city boasts. "The weight gain is horrible," Champion admits. "There is such good food here. If you're a gourmet or a foodie, Atlanta should be at the top of your list when it comes talking about food that excites you. It's an incredibly delicious city."

For Champion, it also feels like the best of both worlds. "Atlanta is a wonderfully progressive town. It's an international, world-class city, but I love that it still has a hometown feel," he says.

One thing Champion isn't as crazy about in Atlanta: pollen season. In fact, he jokes that his first year in Atlanta almost sent his body and his red, swollen eyes into shock. Fortunately, year two has been a bit easier on his sinuses. However, he is still waiting for the temperate winters he was promised before he left the Big Apple. "Since we've been here, we've had double ice storms, brutal cold and gray winters. I'm waiting for that nice, mild winter," he laughs. "But spring in Atlanta is amazing. When the season rolls in, you can go outside and just feel the warm sun. And the tulips and flowers look like they exploded overnight. Does someone come in and plant them in the middle of the night?"

While Atlanta has been a great fit for Sam Champion, he has been an equally great fit for The Weather Channel. And whatever he's reporting, from major weather events to skin cancer awareness and beyond, viewers can depend on his information being as fascinating as it is useful. It has become a hallmark of his impressive 27-year career. "Everyone loves an interesting tidbit," he concludes. "This is a new Weather Channel. It's about providing ongoing education with a purpose. We've spent a year now putting The Weather Channel's focus on the weather again. It feels good. It feels like a success."

 

Monday, 22 June 2015 15:12

Hair Apparent

By Amy Meadows

It was 1988, and Ken Anderson was talking to the father of a friend. The young man knew he wanted to be a physician, but he also had a passion for art. He had always been the class artist in grade school, and his parents purchased a drafting table for him in the eighth grade. He seriously considered pursuing art as a career, but "I didn't want to be a starving artist," he says. That's when his friend's father opened his eyes to an interesting option. "He said, 'You want to be a doctor, and you like to draw. You should consider being a plastic surgeon,'" Anderson recalls. It sounded like a perfect fit: the ability to have a career in medicine while enjoying the artistic nature of facial plastic surgery.

Anderson received his medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He then completed seven years of specialty surgical training, including a residency in ENT surgery and a fellowship in Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the University of Michigan Medical Center. But the double board-certified plastic surgeon realized something. "Facial plastic surgery is not very artistic. It's technical," he reveals. "All facial plastic surgery – from facelifts to nose jobs – is landmark-based surgery. There's a certain place to start the incision, you go skin deep and then you focus on how much tension you are putting on the suture. It's very technical, but I felt it just was not artistic."

In 2003, though, everything changed for Anderson, who today is the founder and director of the Anderson Hair Sciences Center. "I discovered hair restoration," he says. "It required a sense of artistic talent in terms of designing hairlines. A man who is losing his hair loses the frame to his face. With hair restoration, I have to look at the shape of the face. There are no guideposts. Without any landmarks, I have to draw a hairline. I have to look at it and get creative. And people are like snowflakes. No two hairlines are the same, and no two hair loss patterns are the same." What's more, hair restoration allowed Anderson to employ his many years of surgical training, thanks to the technical nature of the non-invasive Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) method; it involves removing hairs from the back of the head, which are immune to the molecular receptors that cause balding, and placing them into sites on top of the head, where those permanent hairs will continue to grow as if they are still in the permanent hair zone. The challenge is not only to make sure that the relocated hair looks as if it has always been there, but also that any scars on the back of the head from the hair removal are virtually undetectable.

002For several years, Anderson practiced hair restoration in Beverly Hills. During that time, he also worked as a commissioned medical illustrator, designing and creating detailed pen-and-ink medical illustrations for scholarly book chapters and journal articles. In 2008, Emory Healthcare recruited him as Division Chief of Hair Restoration in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. And in 2011, he opened the Anderson Hair Sciences Center, a state-of-the-art boutique practice that is dedicated to the field of hair restoration surgery. What makes the center so unique is that, unlike other plastic surgery practices, hair restoration is the sole offering. "This is not a menu item on a website for us. This is all we do," Anderson states. "I am the only board-certified plastic surgeon in Georgia who does hair restoration full time. I am a surgeon and artist who has a dedicated career and practice to treat hair loss in men and women with an emphasis on natural, full results, patient comfort and overall patient care."

Anderson is supported by a full-time staff of highly trained technicians, who have a combined 45 years of experience. "It gives me tremendous peace of mind to have such an experienced staff," he says. Together, the staff uses the most cutting-edge technology, which Anderson says has changed hair restoration surgery. "People are reluctant to come to a doctor for hair restoration because they're afraid of bad hair transplant jobs," he notes. "But this is not your father's hair surgery. These are not hair plugs. There have been quantum leaps in technology that have come onto the scene. It's worth an hour to come down and check it out. And patients meet with me every time they come in. I personally show them how we apply traditional medical principles and today's technology to hair restoration surgery."

Anderson's concentration on hair restoration surgery has allowed him to stand out in the field. In 2004, he set a world record for the most single follicles extracted in one hair restoration procedure using a small biopsy punch. He also has become a sought-after lecturer and, in 2012, received the Okinawa Award for a presentation about FUE procedures delivered to the Japan Society for Clinical Hair Restoration. Additionally, Anderson is the only surgeon in Georgia to offer the ARTAS Robot Assisted FUE System, which his practice received in 2013 after a rigorous interview process and with which he is able to transplant hair without any linear or noticeable scarring, using no scalpels or stitches and providing a dramatically shorter recovery period for patients. Most recently, Anderson was nominated for the 2015 Doctors' Choice Award for Plastic Surgery.

"I love the artistic demands and creativity of this job," Anderson concludes. "Most of all, I love how happy the patients are. We all have hair, and when you lose it, it's distressing – for men and women. There's a psychology behind hair restoration. It's absolutely transformational. When you give a man or a woman back their hair, when you give them back their natural appearance, it brings such happiness. I've never seen happier patients. And I enjoy doing the procedures. It's a fun career that I've created for myself."

Monday, 22 June 2015 14:46

My Best Self: Rich Kenah

Every year on July 4, the Atlana Track Club hosts the world's largest 10K: the Peachtree Road Race. Executive Director Rich Kenah heads up this organization and brings years of Olympic-level running experience to the planning and execution of this fantastic event. Kenah's event was the 800, and he brought home the bronze in the 1997 World Indoor Championships and World Championships in Athens. He went on to run in the 2000 Olympics held in Sydney. After retiring from the track, Kenah says, "I spent most of my days marketing fast athletes and events that featured Olympic-caliber athletes." Now, he's settled down in Atlanta to encourage people who simply run for fun and fitness. We caught up with him about his vision for the ATC and what keeps him going in the sport after all these years.

What is the most rewarding part of working in the running world?
Helping people at every stage of the runner life cycle enjoy the sport, from beginner runners to Olympic athletes.

Since joining the Atlanta Track Club, what are you most proud of?
I am most proud of our staff and the effort they put forth to ensure all of our programs align with our mission of making people more active and fit through running and walking.

What developments do you envision for Atlanta Track Club's future?
We are in the final stages of a new real estate purchase, and the building we are acquiring will allow us to create a destination for all of our runners. Whether you are looking to sign up for a race, attend a running clinic, pick up a race number or simply go for a run, our address will be on the "must visit" list for runners.

What can our readers expect from this year's Peachtree Road Race?
They can expect the world's largest gathering of runners celebrating a 10K like only Atlanta can. Some of the new things participants should look out for include: The Verizon Wireless Family Fitness area at the Peachtree Expo on July 2 and 3, a new style for the all-important Peachtree participant shirt and the inaugural Peachtree Cup elite team competition.

Do you ever struggle to stay motivated with running?
I don't struggle to stay motivated, but I do struggle to make time to run as much as I would like. The great irony of working for a running organization is that I am generally working on the days and at the times that most people get the chance to run, so it takes discipline to guard my "run time."

What is your favorite place to run in Atlanta?
Cochran Shoals. Flat, shade covered, cinder trail...it doesn't get any better.

What do you look for in a running shoe?
I look for something fairly simple, lightweight and performance oriented. I wear the Mizuno Wave Rider.

What's your number one tip for a beginning runner?
Don't overthink it. Your body can accomplish more than you ever imagined as long as you don't let your mind convince you otherwise.

Thursday, 18 June 2015 15:28

Get Your Daily Dose of Vitamin D

 

by Morgan A. McLaughlin McFarland

Vitamin D is an essential component in absorbing calcium to the body and preventing several serious health problems. Our own bodies actually produce this vitamin, yet vitamin D deficiency has become widespread in the United States. Vitamin D deficiency has no reliable symptoms, either, so an inadequate amount of vitamin D could go undetected for years. Learn what you might be risking if your levels are low, and be sure to get a vitamin D test – a simple blood test – at your next annual check-up.

The Dangers of Deficiency

Vitamin D is a vital component for health. Without it, the body cannot absorb calcium. Rickets – a condition where the bones don't have adequate calcium and become deformed and at increased risk of fracture – is one major condition that can result from a lack of vitamin D. Dr. Richard Hansen, Director of Primary Care at Emory Specialty Associates, also lists kidney disease and psoriasis as conditions with strong evidence linking them to vitamin D deficiency. While studies have not yet shown a significant link, researchers are also examining possible correlations between vitamin D and autoimmune diseases, cancer prevention, cognition, fertility, fibromyalgia, high blood pressure, mood disorders, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, stroke and diabetes.

Dr. Richard Ellin, a primary care physician with Kaiser Permanente, says other studies are exploring links between vitamin D deficiency and "certain vaginal infections in pregnant women, fetal loss, cognitive decline, seasonal depression, and increased gastrointestinal and ear infections in children, among other things." Though these studies are only preliminary, they do strongly suggest that vitamin D deficiency can have an impact on the entire body.

Risk Factors

Some risk factors for deficiency are beyond our control. Because melanin offers natural protection against the sun's UVB rays, darker skinned individuals absorb less sun and thus produce less vitamin D. Age is another factor; as we age, less vitamin D is absorbed in the intestines from food or supplementation.

Seasons and location also play a role in vitamin D production; our bodies are less able to manufacture vitamin D in the winter and at higher latitudes, due to the angle of the sun's rays.

Some risk factors can be influenced and changed, such as weight. Vitamin D is a fat soluble nutrient, meaning that excess body fat can absorb vitamin D and prevent it from going where it's needed. Reducing body fat can help you better use the vitamin D you take in.

Even something as simple as an increase in indoor activities and can put you at risk. "With group fitness classes and boutique specialized gyms on the rise, more and more people are working out indoors rather than outside," says Jennifer McGlown, Inpatient Clinical Nutrition Coordinator at Northside Hospital.

Whether your risk factors can be changed or not, vitamin D deficiency can be reduced in several ways, many of them as simple as taking a short walk outside or making small, but important, alterations to your diet.

Let the Sun Shine In... Safely

What is one of the greatest factors in our natural trend toward vitamin D deficiency? The answer may be a surprise: sunscreen. In our quest to prevent skin cancer, we've cut ourselves off from the most significant natural source of vitamin D: the sun.

"The major source of vitamin D for humans is exposure to sunlight," says Kathy Taylor, the director of nutrition services at Grady. "Anything that decreases the penetration of solar radiation into the skin will affect the synthesis of vitamin D. Sunscreen and sun protection when applied properly decrease the penetration of solar radiation, thus decreasing synthesis of vitamin D."

"People are more diligent about applying sunscreen, and at any SPF greater than 8, you are blocking UVB rays," adds Dr. Sharon Bergquist with Emory Healthcare. She also notes that because of the sun's cancer-causing effects, recommending more sun exposure is a controversial issue for health care providers.

SB-001If consistent sunscreen use is partially to blame for the rise in vitamin D deficiency, but failure to use sunscreen increases the risk of skin cancer, how can we safely intake enough vitamin D to keep us healthy? Luckily, concerns over sun exposure and vitamin D intake don't have to be mutually exclusive.

"Early morning sunlight is the best way to get exposed to Vitamin D. It's safe and not harmful to the skin," says Dr. Saju Mathew, a Family Medicine specialist with Piedmont Physicians. Dr. Zach Cohen, with the Atlanta Center For Holistic & Integrative Medicine, agrees that safe sun exposure can make a significant impact on vitamin D levels.

"If we all got about 15 minutes of unfiltered (no sunscreen) sunlight to the arms, hands and trunk 2-3 times per week, I think the incidence of vitamin D deficiency would decrease," says Dr. Cohen, who added that he doesn't recommend unfiltered sunlight to the face or scalp, suggesting a wide-brimmed hat and SPF-protective clothing, and reminds us to cover up after our 15 minutes of sun.

From the Inside Out

Many doctors and nutritionists also recommend oral supplementation as the safest and most reliable way to ensure an adequate vitamin D level. The first step in knowing if supplementation is needed (and if so, how much) is the blood test performed by your primary care physician. The normal range for vitamin D is between 20 and 50 nanograms per milliliter.

In the case of patients who turn out to have a slight deficiency or whose vitamin D levels are on the low side a normal, a daily dose of 2000 IU of vitamin D is the common course of treatment.

Along with supplementation, vitamin D can be improved through diet. Cold-water fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna contain vitamin D in their naturally occurring oils. Many commercially available dairy products have been supplemented with vitamin D, including varieties of milk, yogurt and cheese. Vitamin D can also be found in egg yolks and beef liver. If diet and sun exposure alone are enough to bring your vitamin D levels within a normal range, supplementation shouldn't be necessary.

Enough is Enough

If a yearly blood test indicates normal, healthy vitamin D levels, supplementation typically isn't necessary. In fact, while higher-than-recommended levels of vitamin D aren't toxic, taking too much vitamin D can have negative long term effects on health.

"Because we've done a decent job trying to get message out, people are taking supplements and we're starting to see the opposite problem, with too high a level of vitamin D," says Dr. Bergquist. "There's a sweet spot, probably between 30 to 50 nanograms per milliliter. When you go above 50, it can start to work against you!" So before supplementing on your own, altering your diet or basking in the sun too long, check with your doctor about your current vitamin D levels and the best course of action.

 

Editorial Resources

Sharon Bergquist, MD, Emory Healthcare – www.emoryhealthcare.org

Zach Cohen, MD, Atlanta Center for Holistic & Integrative Medicine – www.atlantaholisticmedicine.com

Richard Ellin, MD, Kaiser Permanente Alpharetta Medical Center – www.kaiserpermanente.org

Richard Hansen, MD, FACP, ESA Primary Care Division – www.emoryhealthcare.org

Jennifer McGlown, RDN ,LD, CDE, Northside Hospital – www.northside.com

Saju Mathew, MD, Piedmont Physicians – www.piedmont.org

Kathy Taylor, Grady Health System – www.gradyhealth.org

 

 

Thursday, 04 June 2015 14:24

Golsen Family Dentistry

Thursday, 04 June 2015 14:10

Golsen Family Dentistry

Thursday, 04 June 2015 14:06

Golsen Family Dentistry

Wednesday, 27 May 2015 16:15

Aging, Depression and Anxiety

We all know that chronic stress can leave the body feeling exhausted and worn out. But what if the truth went one step further? Chronic stress, depression and anxiety can all cause major havoc with our physical wellness and actually speed up the aging process.

Research shows that depression and phobic anxiety accelerate the aging process at the molecular and chromosomal level. Telomeres, the caps at the ends of chromosomes, get smaller every time a cell divides and are markers of aging – those with depression have significantly shorter telomeres than unaffected individuals. Also, depression can cause inflammation and dysregulation in the body's stress and immune responses, leading to more frequent illness and premature aging. The good news is the damage may be reversible once the depression is treated.

Depression can also affect your heart health. New studies from Intermountain Healthcare found that for those with moderate to severe depression, taking antidepressants reduces the risk of heart disease more than taking a cholesterol-lowering drug. By treating depression, individuals can reduce their risk of a heart attack and improve their overall health.

Chronic stress and the resultant inflammation in the brain can contribute to Alzheimer's disease. Some scientists believe that greater stress may be the reason some women's brains age more prematurely than men's. Additionally, the production of the stress hormone adrenaline can lead to temporary vision and hearing loss.

shutterstock 154397297Aside from these changes, when people are depressed or anxious, they don't take care of themselves the way they should; individuals struggling with their emotional health tend to eat poorly, exercise less and self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. These behaviors only accelerate the aging process.

Individuals who believe that their chronic stress may actually be depression or anxiety should seek a diagnostic evaluation from a qualified psychiatrist who can determine if a physical, chemical brain imbalance is affecting their overall health and provide the appropriate treatment. By taking care of your brain health, you can be your best physical self!

About Dr. Sheila Namanworth

Sheila Namanworth, D.M.D, leads business development and community outreach efforts at the Institute for Advanced Medical Research. She is passionate about using innovation, creativity and teamwork to help individuals and organizations reach their highest potential. Committed to mental and physical wellness, Dr. Namanworth enjoys supporting others improve their lives and health in meaningful ways.

Sponsored by: Institute for Advanced Medical Research | 5895 Windward Parkway, Suite 150 | Alpharetta, GA 30005 | Phone: (770) 817-9200 | www.iamresearch.org

 

Growing older is a gift. Looking older…well, not so much. Here’s the good news: 2015 is an exciting time for facial plastic surgeons and the patients we serve. We have never had such a wide variety of tools and techniques available to help you look your best:

  • Scientifically formulated skin care products
  • Lasers to treat redness, brown spots, unwanted hair and wrinkles
  • Non-surgical tightening techniques
  • Long-lasting fillers to replenish facial volume and return your face to a more youthful shape
  • Minimally invasive surgical procedures that can be done in the office under local anesthesia
  • When necessary, complete surgical facial rejuvenation

shutterstock 124995839These can all take years off your appearance and allow you to look just as good as you feel. But with so many new treatments, patients are often confused. Whom should I see? What should I do? What can I afford? These are all real issues that must be considered.

First, find a surgeon who not only has lots of experience but a genuine interest in your concerns, whose aesthetic you share and judgment you trust. Second, remember to stay within your budget. Be careful when choosing a doctor solely based upon price, as there is truth to the statement, “You get what you pay for.” Aesthetic procedures should make you look naturally more beautiful after treatment. Otherwise, the procedure has not served you well. Understand that it is absolutely necessary for your treating physician to be knowledgeable and skilled, but just as important, they must also have an artist’s eye for detail, proportion and symmetry. Your face is your public persona, so remember, excellent facial aesthetic care goes unnoticed. Be sure to seek out expert care because your face is worth it.

In partnership with Marietta Facial Plastic Surgery, Laser & Aesthetics Center, serving the greater Atlanta area since 1970.

BEFOREAFTERDr. Seth A. Yellin
Marietta Facial Plastic Surgery

Dr. Seth A. Yellin is founder and director of Marietta Facial Plastic Surgery, Laser & Aesthetics Center. As one of Atlanta’s most well-respected and sought after facial plastic surgeons, he has treated thousands of patients for more than 20 years in practice, with the goal of making each and every patient happy. Dr. Yellin is nationally renowned for his expertise in creating a natural look when performing cosmetic and reconstructive facial plastic surgery and 3D facial volumization. He was Chief of Facial Plastic Surgery at Emory Healthcare from 1999 to 2011, and he has appeared on NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and Fox Television News to discuss facial aesthetic procedures.

Sponsored by:  Marietta Facial Plastic Surgery, Laser & Aesthetics Center  |  (770) 425-7575  | www.MariettaFacialPlastics.com
Marietta Dermatology & The Skin Cancer Center  |  (770) 422-1013  |  www.Mariettaderm.com

 

Thursday, 21 May 2015 20:02

Anti-Aging Defined

By Kathy Kantorski

Aging sucks – we all know it. An entire industry has been built to resist it and try to reverse its effects on the body. Skin care is likely the largest niche of the anti-aging industry, yet surprisingly, it is mostly unregulated. "Most people assume that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates skin care and cosmetic products like it does for food, but the truth is that there are very few regulations imposed on personal-care manufacturers," says Sally Larsen, founder, owner and formulator of Sally B's Skin Yummies. "It is a self-regulated industry."

To note, the FDA does govern pharmaceutical-grade skin care products to ensure the quality of their active ingredients, according to Dr. Erica D. Anderson, a plastic surgeon with the Emory Aesthetic Center. "These ingredients have been rigorously tested to ensure their claims are substantiated by research," she explains. Still, the products many of us purchase to care for our skin are called "anti-aging," but if no one's regulating their effectiveness, how can we know what those products are really doing? The answer: we have to educate ourselves.

Lessons on Aging Skin

To begin, Dr. Leslie Gray, dermatologist and founder of the Dermatology Center of Atlanta and the Advanced SkinCare Center, explains, "There are two types of aging: intrinsic aging, which is how you are genetically preprogrammed to age, and extrinsic aging, which includes external factors that affect the skin, such as sun exposure, stress, illness and smoking. We can only really affect the extrinsic factors, but some products are great at helping to improve the appearance of aging skin."

Further breaking down intrinsic and extrinsic aging, Sara Lamond, founder of Fig & Flower Natural Beauty, points to four factors: moisture, collagen/elastin, inflammation and free radicals. The first two – moisture and collagen/elastin – are affected by intrinsic aging. As we grow older, our bodies produce fewer natural oils, and the collagen and elastin in our skin begins to break down. The second two – inflammation and free radicals – are related to extrinsic aging. High stress, a poor diet, exposure to pollutants and more can cause us to develop chronic, low levels of inflammation. Chronic inflammation displays externally as redness, rosacea, dermatitis and breakouts. Internally, this inflammation leads to the release of cortisol, which, when consistent, slows wound healing and breaks down collagen.

SB1And finally, what is likely the worst enemy of our skin: free radicals, which are technically atoms with unpaired electrons (hence the term "free"), making them highly reactive and unstable. "These little jerks attack vital nutrients for our skin, essentially leading to the loss of moisture, breakdown of collagen and elastin, and inflammation," Lamond says. "Factors that contribute to the creation of free radicals include UV rays, pollution, smoke, a poor diet and stress."

Men's Skin Care

According to Linda Silber, co-owner of Woo Skincare and Cosmetics, "Men's skin care is one of the fastest-growing segments in health and beauty." That said, a
man's skin is different than a woman's. "It is thicker, retains more moisture and loses collagen at a much slower rate," Larsen explains. "But while a man's skin appears to be hydrated and does not age as quickly, skin care is still vital for its health. Dirt, bacteria and other environmental influences affect a man's skin as it does a woman's, so while he might not need collagen-producing ingredients, he should use products with antioxidants. This will keep free radicals at bay, which can lead to the signs of aging or, in a worst case scenario, cancers."

Don't be jealous, ladies. Men don't have it all – their skin's pores are larger than women's. This means men should avoid heavier creams, which can clog their pores. But for anyone interested in anti-aging, some of the same ingredients are best across the board.

The Best in the Bottle

To address the issues related to aging skin, a myriad of products are available – almost too many to navigate effectively. Don't fret – we've polled local experts for their recommendations.

For those of us interested in natural, organic products, HollyBeth Anderson, founder of HollyBeth Organics, says, "Keeping your skin ageless requires ingredients that deliver a balance of nutrients that heal, protect and nourish the cells. These nutrients can be found naturally in organic oils such as camellia, pomegranate and carrot seed, which work to soften the skin while protecting from free radical damage." She adds, "I'm a big fan of camellia seed oil. It has UV protection properties and the ability to soften and diminish wrinkles with the help of polyphenols, antioxidants and vitamins." A tip: Antioxidants work to neutralize free radicals, so ensure your skin products are rich in these.

SB2Dr. Alan Gardner from Gardner Dermatology & Med Spa also encourages keeping an eye out for antioxidants, adding that a few other key anti-aging ingredients are tretinoin, retinols and sunscreen.
But even if you check out the ingredient label, how can you be sure a product is organic if there are no regulations on cosmetics? Larsen advises, "Look for safety indicators, like the Certified Organic seal or Leaping Bunny certification (no animal testing or cruelty in the formulation process). You can also reference the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Database, which provides third-party testing and safety information on products." Anderson also points to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) list as a great resource for researching unknown ingredients.

Silber says a favorite of hers is hyaluronic acid. "It's an oil-free humectant that is like a drink of water for the skin," she says. "It will not only hydrate the skin, but also plump it up to reduce the appearance of wrinkles." She goes on to tout a new ingredient emerging in the market: resveratrol. "When it's formulated properly, it has shown to drastically increase collagen levels in the skin."

SB3The beneficial ingredients don't stop there, though. Julian Reynolds, owner of Julian's Cosmetics and Skincare, recommends hexamidine, explaining that it restores the top layer of skin, thus retaining the skin's moisture. "It's now being used in serums, creams and lotions," he adds. Anita Vadria from Fountain of Youth MD points to the benefits of peptides. "Peptides are proteins that help stimulate cell turnover and production," she explains.
And of course, vitamin C is a time-tested standby. Just keep in mind when purchasing products with high concentrations of vitamin C, these products must be stored in a way that protects them from air and sunlight. Lisa Washington from B'Tyli Natural Skin Therapies says if the product is stored on a shelf in a clear glass or plastic bottle, take caution of its effectiveness. She recommends buying vitamin C products in dark bottles that are not stored under fluorescent lights.

Ingredients to Avoid

In the "buyer beware" category, Larsen says mineral oil tops the list. A common ingredient in skin products, "Mineral oil is a known carcinogen and petroleum byproduct that Johns Hopkins University touts as the number two cause of aging," she says. "It creates a barrier on your skin, which can give the illusion that it is moisturizing (it will block in moisture underneath it); however, it dehydrates the skin and slows the rate of cell reproduction, which ultimately damages collagen, elastin and connective tissues. The barrier it creates can also block pores and the skin's natural respiration, while at the same time trapping dirt and bacteria."

Other common ingredients to avoid include parabens (the word "paraben" appears within a chemical compound) and benzophenone and its derivatives BHA and BHT. Also, avoid products that include retinol mixed with other anti-aging ingredients. "A retinol will 'eat' other active ingredients in the same bottle," Silber says, adding that you're better off purchasing retinol as a separate product and layering the retinol below another anti-aging product.

SB4An Investment for Today

To find a product with all the right elements and none of the wrong ones, you may have to spend a little more. If you can afford it, Silber recommends opting for a higher-end product. "You get what you pay for," she says, noting that there are expensive brands that don't work, but then pointing to the brand SkinCeuticals, which has very stringent testing methods, including testing through ultrasounds and biopsies for significant objective improvement in the skin. "You're not going to get that level of proven efficacy from the products you purchase at discount, grocery and drug stores," she says.

And it's never too early to start making that investment. "Think about anti-aging before you have wrinkles," Larsen says. "You can delay the process by maintaining proper skin health from an early age." The "early and often" recommendation is shared by every skin care expert, yet consumers – specifically women – tend to get impatient. "Too many women give up too quickly on a good skin care program because they don't feel like they are seeing changes fast enough," notes Dr. Gray. "A good anti-aging program doesn't need to be expensive or complicated. It just needs to be done consistently, over time, and it will pay off greatly in the long run."

 

SB5Editorial Resources

Dr. Erica D. Anderson, Emory Aesthetic Center www.emoryhealthcare.org/cosmetic-aesthetic

HollyBeth Anderson, HollyBeth Organics www.hollybethorganics.com

Dr. Alan Gardner, Gardner Dermatology & Med Spa www.gardnerdermatology.com

Dr. Leslie Gray, Dermatology Center of Atlanta and the Advanced SkinCare Center www.dermatology-atlanta.com

Dr. Alex Gross, Georgia Dermatology Center www.gadermctr.com

Sara Lamond, Fig & Flower Natural Beauty www.shopfigandflower.com

Sally Larsen, Sally B's Skin Yummies www.sallybskinyummies.com

Julian Reynolds, Julian's Cosmetics + Skincare www.julianscosmetics.com

Linda Silber, Woo Skincare and Cosmetics www.wooskincareandcosmetics.com

Anita Vadria, Fountain of Youth MD www.fountainmd.com

Lisa Washington, B'Tyli Natural Skin Therapies www.btyliskintherapies.com