The findings of a 1979 study that has recently resurfaced adds new meaning to “rejuvenation” in plastic surgery and the relentless pursuit of long (or at least a long-looking) life. This study, conducted by Harvard psychology professor, Ellen Langer, sought to determine if thought processes can mitigate aging.
The question of longevity has been at the center of science’s attention for decades. It is now generally accepted that we can live longer. Current reserach is feverishly focused on how we may live to be octa- (80’s), nona- (90’s), and centa- (100’s) generians. Not only are pharmaceutical companies racing to create a “long life” pill (rapamycin and resveratrol, for example), but also, there are non-medicinal and natural methods to help extend the length of your life. Langer’s study purported that positive thinking may have a beneficial effect on aging. In brief, two groups of men, aged 70-80’s, were studied. The control group reminisced about their lives in the 50’s, while the other group wasplaced in an experimental flashback, in an environment where they actually re-lived life as it was in the 50’s. Langer found that this latter group demonstrated improvements in a number of parameters across the board. Those men who were immersed in an environment, albeit fabricated, where they believed themselves to be younger had physiologic mprovements in hearing, vision, blood pressure, and memory. In addition, these men also experienced “intangible” amelioration in self-perception, motivation, and sense of happiness.
It may be argued that the data from Langer’s study is coincidental and anecdotal, and that it may not apply to the general population. Nonetheless, the mind-body connection that the data seem to support should not be disregarded. In my practice of “holistic plastic surgery,” I believe that healing, beauty, and wellness emanate from within. Therefore, optimal results are best achieved when the mind, body, and psyche are cohesively optimized to undego a procedure, surgical or non-surgical. After all, reconstructive and cosmetic procedures may achieve so much. The beauty that radiates outwardly and lights up the world (or at least your mirror!) must have its roots in something that is more than skin deep. The depth of wellness, collectively as attractiveness, health, peacefulness, and possibly— happiness— has its foundation in our internal network, how we are wired to respond to receive life. It is well known that how we react to life’s dynamism may keep us balanced and appearing healthy or make us stressed and look weathered. Even if Langer’s data does not convince you, as time goes by, think like a child, but act like an adult. You may still consider getting “a little work” by your plastic surgeon, but at a minimum, a positive-thinking mindset may at least help you to feel as if the hands of time have stopped working on you!
Be well, and
Dr. Shirley Madhère is a graduate of Boston University, where she received a B.A. after a liberal arts education concentrating on English, biology, classical dance, and French literature. Having simultaneously cultivated a desire to study medicine, Dr. Madhère matriculated at the Dartmouth Medical School and the Brown University School of Medicine combined program. She also strengthened her foundation in science by obtaining concurrently a Master’s Degree at the Brown University Graduate School. Thereafter, she completed both a full residency in general surgery and a second, subsequent residency in plastic surgery at the Montefiore Medical Center. Dr. Madhère’s subspecialty training was undertaken in Cosmetic Surgery at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary under the tutelage of some of New York City’s most renowned plastic surgeons. A native New Yorker of multicultural background and with international interests, she remained in New York City to begin her private practice.