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Scientists Can Now Gauge Skin’s True Age With New Laser Technique

Posted: December 20, 2012

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"No one has ever seen through a person's skin to determine his or her age from their skin," says Sun. "Our finding serves as a potential index for skin age." A skin age index would provide a standardized, quantitative scale that could be used rate the true "age" of skin, from young (less age-related damage) to old (more age-related damage). The scale could give doctors another tool to monitor the overall health of skin -- by investigating whether the skin of certain individuals or populations ages faster or slower than average, tracking the aging of an individual's skin over time, or testing how effective anti-aging treatments are at slowing the rate of skin aging.

Intrinsic, or chronological, aging is different from extrinsic aging, which is caused primarily by sun exposure. "There are a lot of extrinsic factors that can accelerate the aging process, such as smoking, ultraviolet light, and stress," says Sun. The researchers found that the extent of extrinsic skin aging in their study subjects varied depending on occupation, personal habits, and skin type, but because the researchers looked at skin on the sun-protected inner forearm, their findings provide a measure of the primarily genetically-based intrinsic skin aging.

"This could provide an index for someone who cares about the health of their skin and might also provide a test-bed for measuring the effectiveness of 'anti-aging' skin products," Sun says. "Of course," he and Liao joke, "you could set an HGM scanner at the entrance to a bar, so you can know whether a person is over 21-years-old and permitted for entry."

From ScienceDaily, 12/13/12