How to Use Your Body’s Own Regenerative Ability to Look and Feel Younger with Dr. Anthony Youn

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This podcast is brought to you by Wellnesse. And this is a company that I got to help co-found and formulate the products for and one that I care deeply about. Oral health has been a fun research topic for me for well over a decade. When I discovered I had some cavities and started learning about the process of remineralization and how our teeth have the ability to stay stronger and healthier, dependent on a lot of factors, including our nutrition, our oral microbiome, and the environment of our mouth. And this is why we use something called hydroxyapatite, which is a naturally occurring mineral that is used in the enamel of our teeth. And there’s some fascinating studies that show that this is really effective at helping keep teeth strong and healthy. And this is also why I chose not to use fluoride in my products. Hydroxyapatite has many of the same upsides without the potential downsides that come with fluoride and is certainly much safer for children as well.

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Katie: Hello and welcome to the Wellness Mama podcast. I’m Katie from And this episode is all about something called autojuvenation, which is basically how to use your body’s own regenerative ability to look and feel younger. And I’m here with Dr. Anthony Youn, who is known as America’s holistic plastic surgeon. He’s a nationally recognized board-certified plastic surgeon who’s recognized as a leader in his field and author of the bestselling books, The Age Fix, In Stitches, and Playing God. His public television special, The Age Fix with Dr. Anthony Youn, has been viewed by millions. And he also hosts the popular podcast, The Holistic Plastic Surgery Show.

He is the most followed plastic surgeon on social media with over 4.5 million subscribers on his YouTube channel and 8 million followers on TikTok. And his new book, Younger for Life, is a complete holistic guide to turning back the clock on the process of aging with autojuvenation. And we go deep on that topic today, as well as procedures he does and does not recommend, how he thinks that much can be done without ever turning to surgery to really improve skin appearance and turn back the clock on aging. And he gives some very specific tips for this. He’s so well-spoken and such a joy to talk to. So, let’s join Dr. Anthony. Tony, welcome. Thanks so much for being here.

Anthony: Thank you so much for having me.

Katie: I’m really excited for this conversation and to talk about how we can essentially use our body’s natural processes to age more gracefully or even slower or reverse some of the signs of aging. But before we jump into that, I have a note from your bio that you once played guitar and sang in a Jimmy Buffett cover band. And since we recently lost him, I would love to hear this story and how that started and what it was like.

Anthony: Yeah, I mean, I actually started playing guitar back in college, and I am very mediocre of a guitarist and singer. And so, when I started my residency, I just, I’ve always had this kind of creative streak. And I thought, you know, I’m this big fan of Jimmy Buffett. And I heard that there were some people who are interested in putting a band together. So, I emailed a contact I had, and he said, let’s do it. And we spent about, so I was, I did five years of residency. And during that time, we probably did about 50 or 60 gigs where we would do like play at parties, at bars and stuff. And it was my way of, I think, living out a, if I could pick one job that I could have that I just, there’s no way I could ever do, but I would love would be like a rock star. And that was the closest that I’ll ever get to it. And once I finished residency, I actually moved out to California. Since then, I’ve actually, and the band broke up, but since then I’ve played for my church band occasionally and stuff like that. So, it’s, it was a lot of fun, but. It was definitely tiring because as a resident, I would actually have days where I’d work 36 hours and then I would leave the hospital, get changed into my like tropical clothes and go play from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. at a bar and then be back to work the next morning at 6 a.m. So, it was tough, but it was fun.

Katie: Wow, I can only imagine, but probably a great creative outlet during an otherwise extremely focused and intense period of life. I love that you did that and that’s actually a perfect springboard into what will be the bulk of our conversation today, which is the work that you do now and the many thousands of people that you’ve helped. I think for kind of just background and starting point, you use a term that I have not heard before, which I believe is autojuvenation. And I would love for you to explain what that means and kind of some of the background for this conversation.

Anthony: Yeah, so just to give you the background, I finished plastic surgery residency training, and I did a year fellowship in cosmetic plastic surgery out in Beverly Hills with one of the top plastic surgeons there. Then I moved back to Michigan, and I started my practice back in 2004. And within the next probably five to seven years, I reached what I thought was a pinnacle of success. At the time, as a surgeon, you gauge your success by the amount of surgery that you do. And we’re always taught in our residency and our training that the goal of being a surgeon is to bring people to the operating room. And so, I always believe that that should be my goal.

And then a patient completely changed that and flipped that upside down for me. So, I thought I’d reached the pinnacle of success. And when you look at different fields of medicine, especially with surgery, there’s always a surgery that is considered the pinnacle. And if you do that, you feel accomplished. If you’re a general surgeon, that’s the Whipple. It’s like a big cancer surgery that can take eight to 12 hours. In plastic surgery, it’s probably the facelift. I mean, because people may trust anybody to do their liposuction, but you will be darn sure if somebody’s gonna cut on your face that you’re gonna be very choosy about that. And so, about five to seven years into practice, I thought that I’d reached the pinnacle of success. I was having people flying in from all over the country to have me do their surgery and their facelifts and all that. And I had a patient that I did a faceless on, a really nice woman in her late 60s, and I did an operation on her that went perfectly. We actually kept her overnight in the hospital just for routine monitoring. Then she went home, and she went home on a Friday morning, and that Monday morning I came into the office with a message from her daughter, and the message was, “Why did my mom die?” She died that weekend just a few days after I performed a facelift on her, and it sent me into a tailspin. Because up until then, I’d never truly had a complication like that.

And so, I started looking like, first of all, like what happened here? Is there something I could have done to prevent this? And it turns out she had a massive heart attack. Now we did have her see a cardiologist prior to her surgery. She got completely cleared. She had a stress test. Everything was positive. There’s no reason why this should have happened, yet it did. And for months, I beat myself up over it. I was absolutely devastated. I considered closing out my practice, and I really re-looked at what am I doing with my job, with my career, with my patients?

And I finally came to the realization that everything I was taught about being a surgeon was wrong. The goal should not be to get people to the operating room. The goal should be the opposite. It should be, how do I keep people out of the operating room, yet keep them feeling great about themselves and looking great and all of that? And so, I really started to spend years then looking into alternative methods of how do I get people where they wanna be without bringing them to surgery? And I came up with this concept of autojuvenation and it’s using your body’s own regenerative abilities to turn back the clock, to give you that appearance that you’ve wanted, to turn back five, 10 years and help you to feel better about how you look.

Katie: Wow, that’s quite the intense story. And I can only imagine what it was like to actually have lived that experience. But I love that you brought this up, especially about surgery, because I know for many of the moms listening, this may not be something many of them have had, but I would guess many have at least considered the availability of all the different options related to surgery. I know, vulnerable for me personally, after having six babies, I’ve considered different types of skin removal surgery, for instance. And I’ve always hesitated and never really looked into it seriously because of just understanding things like fascia and how connected the whole body is. I just haven’t had a good intuition about it. But I love that you, having such a deep understanding of the surgical side, still came to this conclusion and now help people avoid it. I’m curious if you could walk us through some of the risks that come with surgery and also some of the ways around that, because I think that’s probably a hope for a lot of people to understand there are other options that it sounds like that can work really, really well.

Anthony: Yeah, and I think that one of the surgeries I do a lot of are tummy tuck surgeries, and it’s mainly on moms, people who’ve had, women who’ve had multiple children, their skin has been stretched out, it doesn’t look or feel the same way. Now, the risks of surgery start with death, and whenever somebody comes to see me in consultation and they say, “Hey, what’s the worst thing that can happen, Dr. Youn?” I will say, “You could die.” I will do everything in my power to prevent that, and we will take all the steps necessary that we can to make this as safe as possible, but no matter what I do, like with this patient who died after the facelift, you just never know, and there is a death rate with elective surgery, and it’s about one in 50,000 people who have cosmetic surgery will die from the operation.

Now, usually it’s not because a surgeon messed up, it’s usually anesthesia-related complications, underlying illnesses, and that type of thing, but there is that risk, and so that’s the first thing you wanna think of. Specifically with the tummy, it’s a tough thing because once again, whenever I get people, and I get so many moms that come in and say, “Hey, I’m thinking about a tummy tuck, what do you think?” The first thing I will always tell them is, if you can be happy and healthy and live a fulfilled life without going under the knife, then you should avoid surgery. However, if you can’t, there are people who come to see me and they’ve had four kids and their tummy muscles have been so separated, they actually have back pain from it, and they just don’t feel themselves the way that they want to feel, then we can talk about the specifics of the operation. There are a lot of things that we can do now though that can turn back the clock, that can give us some of those results that we were looking for that maybe 20 years ago, we didn’t have it, we didn’t have, and so ideally if we can try to point the patient in that direction, that’s what I try to do.

Katie: That makes sense. And that’s such a great balanced approach. And it seems like wonderful, informed consent. So, for the people who still do choose to go through with it, they have a deeper understanding of the risk involved, probably have a better grasp on recovery and things they can do to help as well. But to circle back to this idea of autojuvenation, I love this because it’s something I have been researching, at least the concept of without having a word for it recently. I did lab testing for a company I’m considering investing in, and I found out my biological age is actually almost 10 years younger than my chronological age, which was really exciting. And so that’s on a cellular level.

But I think for a lot of us, there’s also that element of the external facing and what our skin looks like, especially, especially as women. And so, I think I would love to delve into the causes of that skin aging that’s visible and then also delve into some of these things that you teach that can help reverse that.

Anthony: Yeah, so thank you. So, I would look at in general, I believe there are four major causes of aging of our skin. The first major cause is collagen degradation. Seventy to 80% of our skin is composed of collagen. Collagen is basically what caused our skin to feel tight and to feel strong. And there’s collagen in our skin, in our muscles, in our bones, in our joints, and other parts of our body. But as we get older, really starting in the mid to late 20s, we lose about 1% of the thickness of the collagen of our skin every year. Women after menopause that increases to about 2% a year. And that’s why our skin gets thinner as we get older. And so, to try to fight that process is one of the parts of autojuvenation.

Second cause of aging of the skin is oxidation or free radicals. Free radicals are basically unstable molecules that are created as a result of just normal metabolism. Our body creates naturally free radicals as a byproduct of just being alive. But we can get attacked by more than that depending on what our lifestyle is. So, eating a lot of ultra processed and processed foods will increase our body’s amount of free radicals that it has to deal with. Fried foods also free radicals. Even excessive stress has been found to increase free radicals. And when you have too many free radicals attacking your body at the same time, it can actually damage the DNA in your skin and that can cause premature aging. So that’s number two.

The third cause of aging is inflammation. And inflammation can be acute, or it can be chronic. Acute inflammation can actually be a good thing. When you get a cut and your body reacts to the cut by creating some inflammation to heal that cut, that’s actually a good thing. Sometimes doing certain things, like let’s say getting a laser treatment or a chemical peel can be acute inflammation and that can cause the skin actually to be more youthful afterwards and the collagen to be tighter and more youthful appearing and molecularly as well.

And so, a chronic inflammation is not a good thing. And chronic inflammation, one of the major causes of that is sugar. And we know sugar causes inflammation because you get sugar spikes can cause insulin spikes, insulin spikes can create chronic inflammation. And so, sugar is kind of one of the big causes of inflammation. And then the other cause of inflammation are advanced glycation end products or AGEs. Sugar once again is a huge culprit here because when sugar is brought into the body, especially when it’s in excessive amounts, it can actually bond to the collagen of our skin and cause the collagen, which normally is, the way I described, it’s like the logs of a log cabin. Collagen are these fibros that are normally kind of stuck together and are nice and firm. But when sugar bonds to that collagen, it can cause those logs to become frayed and that collagen to become basically kinked. And that can cause premature aging. So, inflammation by advanced glycation end products, which is when the sugar will attach the collagen, creating those AGEs and by chronic inflammation, typically by sugar spikes and insulin spikes.

And then the fourth thing, fourth cause of aging of our skin is basically a buildup of cellular waste. And this is one of the things that a lot of people more in traditional medicine don’t really pay much attention to. You may have dermatologists talking about using creams for your skin, but they don’t talk about trying to get that process of autophagy revved up. And our cells, as they are basically undergoing metabolism and kind of the normal daily life, will create cellular waste. And that waste needs to be taken care of, recycled, even reused using a process called autophagy. And that’s intracellular basically recycling or renewal. And that only occurs when you are not eating. And so, taking time not to eat, to fast, can actually cause that process to occur by getting rid of that intracellular waste. Our cells then function more efficiently and effectively, and that also is anti-aging as well.

Katie: That’s fascinating. And it definitely leads into the question of what we can do about it, which I can guess a few of the possible things we can do based on the way you explain that. Things like fasting in a way that’s appropriate for our hormones, reducing our stress level, being aware of what we eat, and probably eating more nourishing foods, less ultra processed foods. But I’m sure there’s much more that goes into it from there. Based on what you said, I wonder if people might be thinking are collagen supplements a good idea? Are there any other supplements besides just collagen that can support collagen and healthy collagen matrix in the skin? So, I’d love to delve into that. What are things we can do at home that help battle each of those different causes?

Anthony: Exactly. And in my book, Younger for Life, I have basically a three-week jumpstart that incorporates all of it. And so, the way I look at it is it’s diet, it’s what to eat, when to eat, supplements to take, and skincare products to use. And if you focus on those as kind of the primary thing, then that can get you really started. And we have this 21-day jumpstart where for 21 days, you basically focus on those four things, you can really turn back and see huge changes in your skin.

So as far as general things, you mentioned collagen supplements. Collagen supplements are very controversial. I’ve got a big TikTok audience, and I posted on collagen supplements, and I have people who are saying, “Oh, my doctor said collagen supplements don’t work, your body won’t absorb it, it gets broken down in the stomach.” The fact is that collagen, when you buy collagen, you want to make sure that it is in collagen, hydrolyzed collagen peptides, essentially. So, collagen is a big protein. And if you just ingest collagen in general, your body, yes, will break it down. When you look at collagen supplements, that’s why collagen supplements, the best ones, are hydrolyzed collagen peptides, because it takes that collagen, that huge protein, and it breaks it down into tiny little peptides and amino acids that your body can actually absorb. So, your body does absorb hydrolyzed collagen peptide supplements, and there are studies that have looked at it. There are a plethora of studies that have shown beneficial impacts on your skin with collagen. In fact, I’ll just name one, which was a meta-analysis back in 2021 of 1,100 patients who took 90 days of hydrolyzed collagen supplements, and they found a statistically significant improvement in wrinkles, skin elasticity, and skin hydration. So, you’re looking at 1,100, this is a meta-analysis, so this is a combination of multiple studies. There are randomized controlled clinical trials done with collagen finding basically all the same things. And some of them will actually take biopsies of the collagen two months after somebody starts taking collagen supplements and seeing an increase in the thickness of the collagen of that skin.

Katie: That’s fascinating. And does bone broth fit into that category as well? I know there’s a lot of talk by like Dr. Kate Shanahan and others of these traditional foods that we largely have removed from our modern diets that seem to be extremely rejuvenating. Does bone broth fit into that category as well?

Anthony: It does. Now, interestingly, bone broth makes a lot of sense, but there aren’t any studies that I know of that have been performed that have actually looked at bone broth and skin. That being said, what is bone broth? You simmer all the different, whether it’s the feet or the cartilage or any of those body parts, for 48 to 72 hours. The big thing with bone broth is it is chock full of collagen, but there are a lot of different bone broths out there. And one way to tell whether it does have a lot of collagen is if you heat it up, it becomes basically that soup. But if you let it cool, if it hardens or kind of solidifies into gelatin, that gelatin is actually collagen. And you’ll know then that if it’s got those kind of two phases, depending on the temperature, that most likely you’ve got a good bone broth there. Now, bone broth is filled with collagen, so it does make sense that if you ingest it, that that should improve the collagen of your skin. I would say that it should, but there aren’t any true scientific studies that I know of that have either proven it or disproven it.

Katie: Got it. And you mentioned TikTok. I will link to yours in the show notes so people can find you because you do post a lot of really helpful content on there. I know another thing that has seemed to go viral on TikTok in general is the importance of hydration for skin appearance. And I’m curious your take on this. I’m currently a big fan of adding minerals to our hydration because minerals are important, I think, for hormones and sleep and many other things as well. But are there any studies or have you seen in practice a benefit for people actually improving their hydration levels and that benefiting their appearance of their skin?

Anthony: I think in general, there is improvement. I don’t know of any actual studies that have looked at it. I mean, we also look at topicals. When you look at, let’s say, moisturizers you’re kind of doing the same thing. You’re trying to lock that hydration into your skin. But the way I would describe that, I actually had a person ask me, “Dr. Youn, you’ve talked about four causes of aging of the skin. Why isn’t hydration one of those, or dehydration?” And the fact is, is that dehydration isn’t necessarily gonna age your skin on a cellular level, per se. Now, if you’re dehydrated, yes, your skin can get drier. It can look more wrinkled. You can look older. But the fact is, is that’s not technically older skin on a cellular level. So, I definitely recommend overall hydrating. I think, in the general, a glass of water is good, but you also ideally wanna kind of get more specific with it. I do think the minerals are fantastic. And you only need to ask professional athletes, college athletes. So many of them now know that it’s not just drinking water or, God forbid, Gatorade. It’s drinking water and adding those specific minerals into it can really help prevent people from cramping. I actually put minerals in my water the mornings that I operate. As I’m getting older, I’m finding that my hands occasionally will actually cramp up. And so, I started putting minerals in my water every morning, and I have that also at lunchtime when I’m between operations and stuff, and it really helps me, too.

Katie: I was fascinated to read this statistic because if we think about it, we’re often told we’re 60 whatever percent water, but really as humans we’re that percentage of salt water or like mineral-rich water and that’s important for electrical communication and so much. And I read that a person who lives in a hot climate or an athlete will lose more minerals in five years than the average person will in a whole lifetime. And so that really helped me realize like this is something to be intentional about replenishing if I’m going to keep doing all these activities that release all these minerals through sweat. I also want to circle back to autophagy and see if there are any good general guidelines for sort of maximizing fasting or intermittent fasting for the skin health aspect especially.

Anthony: Yeah, one of the things that I encourage people to do, because some people will fast for weight loss. Some people will fast for hormones. Some people will fast, they’ve got many, many reasons, but when I’m looking at fasting purely from my perspective with my followers, my patients, it comes down to anti-aging. And so, one of the things that I recommend, and everybody fasts a little bit differently. I try to encourage people to do a minimum. Now, a lot of my followers are not quite as holistically educated as yours. And so, for me, I try to encourage my followers to just start with the basics. And so, if all you start off with is a 12-hour overnight fast, that’s okay. You know, that’s a big start for some people. Ideally trying to get that to a 16-hour fast. So, you stop eating at 8 p.m. and then you don’t eat until noon the next day is what I try to encourage people to do. Part of the 21-day jumpstart in my book does contain intermittent fasting.

One of the things that I have, that we’ve seen work really well, was that on the day you break the fast, instead of just going back to your normal diet, you go to an autophagy supporting diet, okay? And what I mean by that is that we do know that there are certain foods, even though you break the fast, you may still be able to promote autophagy and that autophagy continuing. And we know that if you eat approximately 25 grams or more of protein a day, that will stop autophagy along with carbs. So, protein and carbs really slow down or stop the autophagy process. Healthy fats, however, do not. So, there are two types of food that can actually promote autophagy that you can eat and theoretically continue that autophagy process during the rest of that day. And those are healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids and foods that are filled with polyphenols. So essentially, you’re looking at omega-3 fatty acid rich foods, so cold water fish, salmon, mackerel, trout, tuna, anchovies, that type of thing. If you look at monounsaturated fatty acids, then you’re talking about nuts and seeds. And then if you’re looking at trying to push polyphenol-rich foods, which polyphenols appear to also help promote the autophagy process, those are kind of like the dark colored fruits, like blackberries, plums, blueberries, strawberries, even black beans. And so, what we’ve done with the 21-day jumpstart is on those days and you break the fast, instead of going back to normal diet, you go on this essentially autophagy diet to continue that process of autophagy, essentially until you have a regular breakfast the following morning. And we found that to be really effective for people.

Katie: That’s fascinating. And it makes sense because your body would be in a heightened sense of being able to absorb things and you’re putting really rich, nutrient-dense things into your body that it would be willingly uptaking. I’ve noticed too, I’ve done a lot of longer fasts, and I’ve talked on here about that before. And I find that a few days into a fast, I actually will start craving those exact foods that you mentioned, especially as I’ve gotten more and more used to fasting. I would crave anchovies and raspberries and kind of odd foods. But it makes sense when you explain it that way. It’s like my body was probably ready for those foods to come back in and to be able to absorb them.

I know another controversial topic when it comes to the topic of aging and skin especially is the topic of sunlight exposure. And I’ve been a big proponent on here of things like morning sunlight for circadian rhythm and hormonal balance. And I personally have some genes where if I take vitamin D supplements, my vitamin D levels don’t change. So, I do have to get some from the sun. But we also know that too much sun, of course, can prematurely age the skin. So, I’m curious your take on that and what you find is a good balance. I tend to just wear a hat if I’m in the sun, but I love the feeling of sunshine on the rest of my skin. So how do you help people or what do you advise on that?

Anthony: So, I think that like with a lot of things in life, moderation is the key. I have friends of mine who are dermatologists who every morning, it may be cloudy out and they may be sitting in a basement all day, but they’ll put their sunscreen on. And then I have holistic health friends of mine who are anti-sunscreen. I’ll tell you for me, I think that there is a good happy medium there somewhere. Number one, physician, especially as a plastic surgeon, I have seen horrific skin cancer issues in patients of mine and even friends of mine where they get a skin cancer, they get Mohs surgery, and half their nose is gone afterwards. And they come to me and I’m looking at like, how do I reconstruct this? I mean, if you get a skin cancer on your face, it can be absolutely devastating. And so, you wanna do what you can to prevent that, especially if you’ve got lighter colored skin and you’re at higher risk.

So definitely I encourage people overall to wear sunblock, at least an SPF of 30, especially when you’re gonna be out in the sun. However, I also know living in Detroit, how therapeutic it is to get the sun on your face, to see the sunlight in the morning, and to really get that sun. I mean, we escape to the Caribbean typically every winter because man, it’s just tough here in the wintertime. So, I do think that there’s a happy medium there. I think that monitoring your vitamin D levels, I think is definitely important. Ideally wearing the sunscreen, especially if you’re gonna be out, but at the same time, also getting that sun that you need for your own mental health and for your spiritual health and for your inner health as well. So, I think that there’s a happy medium there. I don’t think you have to go extreme one way or another.

Katie: That’s a great perspective. And you mentioned collagen supplements. I’m curious if there are any other supplements that you recommend in general. I know there is a very personalized aspect to any form of supplementation, but I would guess there are some that are considered generally supportive of skin health aging.

Anthony: Yeah, so one of the parts of the 21-day jumpstart is a very simple supplement routine that I recommend basically for everybody. So, the first one is gonna be the collagen supplement. The second one is gonna be a multivitamin. The third one is gonna be omega-3 fatty acids. So once again, using something that is high-quality omega-3s, I think it’s super important. What we do know is that those are healthy fats that can actually create a reduction of inflammation inside the body. And one of the four main causes of skin aging is inflammation. And that’s one of the big things that you can do to fight that. So, omega-3 fatty acids, ideally from fish. If you’re vegan, then go with the allergy base, that’s fine.

And then a daily probiotic, I think is very important. More and more we’re learning that there is a connection between the gut and our skin. And there is a gut-skin axis that we are learning more and more about. And there are actual studies now that are correlating certain issues or conditions that you have in the gut, like let’s say inflammatory or IBS with inflammatory skin issues. And so, taking a daily probiotic, the idea obviously is, and you’ve talked about this on your show before, but beneficial bacteria in your gut, the health of the gut will really show in the health of your skin.

And then the final thing I recommend is just taking an antioxidant supplement of a variety of antioxidants. We know that our produce, our fruits and vegetables, do not have the same nutrition now than they did 50 years ago. There actually was a study, I’m not sure if you’ve talked about this on your podcast before, but they actually looked at our produce from the years 1950 to 1999. So, 49 years’ worth of produce. And they looked at how much nutritional value the produce had every year. And that nutritional value decreased every year in six main nutrients. And those include vitamin C, protein, and iron. And so definitely once again, taking let’s say a daily antioxidant supplement can help with those tyes of potential nutrient deficiencies.

Katie: And I love that you address the internal side in such a detailed way. I feel like often in the skincare conversation, the internal side gets overlooked. And I’ve had this conversation similarly in the oral healthcare space with creating my toothpaste and all the research that went into that and realizing we think of the mouth as sort of this isolated part of our body, but it’s so interconnected. And it’s not just keeping our teeth clean by brushing and flossing, which is of course important, but it’s things like the fat-soluble vitamin content in our body and the mineral content in our body and how those things are interacting in our saliva to be able to create mineral balance in our mouth.

And I would guess there’s also this aspect when it comes to skin health, where all these things we have in our body, of course, are gonna feed our skin from the inside out. And then of course, there are things we can do from the outside in. So, when it comes to skincare, what are some good general guidelines for people to be aware of to kind of battle those signs of aging?

Anthony: And I think what you said hits it right on the nail. Dermatologists traditionally focus just on skincare and holistic health experts focus just on the gut. And I have friends of mine who are like, “Oh, you want your skin to be better, focus on your gut.” And it’s like, well, you can do both. You can focus on your gut, and you can use the right skincare. And ideally that’s how you want to treat it. And I don’t know of a lot of people talking about both. So, I appreciate asking a question.

What I usually recommend for people who are saying, “Hey, what do I do for a simple skincare routine that I know is gonna work?” And you don’t have to spend a lot of time. You don’t have to do a 12-step Korean skincare routine. If you keep it to the basics, that technically is enough. So, every morning you wanna cleanse your skin with a cleanser appropriate for your skin type. If you’ve got oily skin, then ideally a foaming-type cleanser will help to reduce some of that excess oil. If you’ve got dry skin, then use a milky or hydrating cleanser.

And then after that, you wanna use an antioxidant serum. Vitamin C is the most common that most skincare companies have. And the idea is you wanna fight off those free radicals. Once again, one of the four main causes of skin aging, free radicals, oxidation; antioxidants fight that. So, using an antioxidant serum every morning can be very helpful. A bonus is if you combine vitamin C and vitamin E serums, and some of them contain both of them in one, they’re found to be synergistic in studies and fighting free radicals. So, if you wanna take that to the next level, not just a vitamin C, do a vitamin C and E serum in the morning.

And then I would follow that with a sunscreen. Once again, we talked about kind of moderation. If you need a little bit of sun, by all means do what you need to do for your own physical and mental health. And that’s all you have to technically do in the morning: cleanse, serum, antioxidant serum, and sunscreen.

At night, you wanna cleanse your skin. If you only cleanse your skin once a day, make sure it’s at least at night because you gotta get rid of the day’s worth of dust, pollution, grime, and your makeup especially, okay? Definitely use a cleanser. Some people even double cleanse. We’re using oil cleanser first to get rid of kind of the dirt and the oil and the makeup, and then follow that up with your general cleanser afterwards.

And then you wanna apply an anti-aging moisturizer or cream. The one that most plastic surgeons and dermatologists recommend, the one that I recommend as a starting point is a retinol. Retinol is a form of vitamin A and is probably the most scientifically studied anti-aging ingredient that there is. And the idea behind that is not only does it fight aging, but it also causes the skin to turn over, it helps to reduce dark spots, and it can even potentially reverse early pre-skin cancers. So, it’s a huge deal. And if you pick one anti-aging cream, then I would pick a retinol. And most skincare products have some sort of retinol in them. In their, let’s say, even cream.

If you wanna apply moisturizer on top of that, feel free. You know, a lot of us, we grew up with our moms applying cold cream at night. You don’t have to deal with cold cream. A lot of those cold creams I’m not a big fan of because of all the fragrance and all that that can be irritating to your skin. But if you wanna apply moisturizer on top of that, depending on how your skin is, then feel free to do that. But once again, keeping in mind, like hydrating with water, that’s not gonna be anti-aging on a cellular level, but can be more for comfort.

And then the final thing is every three days or so, you wanna ideally exfoliate your skin. So, with either a physical exfoliator, which can be a little scrub, or you can do a chemical exfoliation with an alpha hydroxy acid. And technically that’s it. So, morning, you cleanse, you apply an antioxidant serum, and then a sunscreen, and the evening you cleanse, apply an anti-aging cream like a retinol, moisturizer as needed, and then twice a week or so exfoliate your skin.

Katie: And as you were explaining that, and that was a great list, by the way, I was thinking too, these are also nutrient deficiencies that often exist in Americans, especially internally. Like we’ve seen our levels of important things like vitamin C, like vitamin A decline, especially with age and especially with how you explained our food has lost nutrient density over the years. So, it makes sense, like you’re saying, take a multifaceted approach, nourish yourself from the inside out to give your body those nutrients, and then also apply them to the skin. And then you’re kind of hitting both sides of it and giving your body the best chance at, like you said, this is not that we’re doing something to the body, it’s helping the body do what it already knows how to do.

Anthony: And that’s exactly what I mean by the whole process of autojuvenation. It’s taking all of those things that maybe nobody has really put all together and saying, “Hey, you know what, we can put all this together and we can turn back the clock, feel better, look better, have better energy.” And if you wanna take some other steps, you know, there are other things you can do like red light therapy at home. That’s a great way to also help to turn back the clock of your skin. Some people do dermaplaning, which essentially is a treatment we do in the office where you remove a layer of dead skin cells, and you can do that at home. There’s so much that you can do that doesn’t entail injections or surgery.

Katie: I love that. That was going to be one of my follow-up questions as well was, is red light beneficial? It’s something I’ve experimented with. I think even beneficial for thyroid health for me personally was a thing I noticed. And now there are so many home devices that are much more affordable than they used to be and that can make that, like you said, a home treatment as well.

Anthony: And there are studies, a number of studies that do show beneficial effects of red light therapy treatments on the quality of your skin. The question, the studies haven’t looked at the exact mechanism. We think that that may help with the mitochondria and helping with overall having your cells essentially be more superpowered essentially. We don’t know 100% for sure if that’s what causes the anti-aging, the physical benefits as far as in your skin, but we do know that there are multiple studies that show that the skin does look more youthful if you do regular red light therapy treatments on it.

Katie: Great to know. I’m also curious, another thing that seems to be circulating TikTok is the trend of doing different types of like lymphatic or facial massage, where I’ve done for years dry brushing on the rest of my body, not so much my face. I’m curious if there’s any significance to that that you’ve seen in your work. I would guess those are at least probably not harmful practices, whether or not they’re super effective might be up for debate. I just noticed, for instance, if I do lymphatic massage on my face before bed, I tend to sleep really well. And if I do dry brushing in the morning, I get a burst of energy. But beyond that, do you feel like there’s anything beneficial to it?

Anthony: So, I think what you get with both of those is you do get the, basically you get your lymph channels more active. And so, we have lymph channels in our body, for people don’t quite understand what that is, is, you know, we’ve got blood vessels, we have veins and arteries that move blood, but there’s actually a separate system of kind of like, like vessels essentially that are called lymph and lymph essentially moves immune cells and high protein type of fluid through our body. And so, when we develop, let’s say we have inflammation of the body, you know, either from an injury or sometimes it’s from eating the wrong foods and stuff like that, then you can develop fluid that kind of builds up and it builds up and you don’t get rid of that fluid. You can’t push it out through the arteries and veins. You push it out through the lymphatic system. And that’s what a lot of people like with dry brushing. The reason why you don’t dry brush from the inside out is because you want to push that fluid towards the direction of the lymphatics. When I do surgery on people, we try to have people massage towards the direction of those lymphatics to help move that fluid through. So, using, let’s say a gua sha device, using, let’s say a jade roller, that’s what that’s doing is helping to move that fluid through. Now, if you add that with certain things like coolness, a lot of people put their jade roller in the refrigerator or the freezer, then you can also help to shrink some of the skin down temporarily.

Once again, we’re not talking about a long-term type of a change, but you can see some nice improvements. So, if you’re going to go to, let’s say, a class reunion and you want to do a little gua sha prior to going out, that can help snatch your neckline a little bit more and help you feel better about your appearance then, by all means, that’s good. Dry brushing, though, also adds on top of that, though, the benefit of exfoliation of our skin. You know, Koreans have done that type of thing for hundreds of years, but they’re not nice. You know, if you’ve ever been to a Korean spa, it’s not just a dry brush. They take what essentially looks like sandpaper and they just rub your body from head to toe with it. Some people love it, some people hate it because it is painful, but afterward, your skin’s gonna feel smooth as a baby’s butt.

Katie: I’ve gotten to have that experience once and it was quite the experience, but I don’t think the end of my adult life has ever felt so soft as it did after that. So, I would be in the category of people who love it. Curious from a more advanced perspective too, I think all of these things are so foundational and important for everyone.

I often talk about this; the simple things can often be overlooked because of their simplicity. Even if someone wants to do the more advanced biohacks, I always say get light dialed in first, get sleep dialed in, get nutrition dialed in, because anything else you do is going to be more effective anyway. But don’t just jump to the expensive shiny objects first, because you’re going to get a better bang for your buck if you do the foundational things first. So, I would guess there’s very much a similar thing when it comes to skin treatments. But I know that at least from the internet, I’ve seen there’s dozens at least options of more advanced skin care treatments people can do either at home or in office. And I would love to hear your take on the ones that are actually effective and worth it or maybe any that are not really worth it and or maybe more risky to avoid.

Anthony: Yeah, so I mean, the first thing is when I look at it is a bang for your buck. And the problem that we have in cosmetic medicine right now is that there are so many devices out there. And the device companies will advertise their devices to consumers trying to kind of pressure doctors and med spots to buy them saying, “Oh, if you use this, then you’re going to get more people in the door.” And it becomes a situation where if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, and you have to be as a consumer, you must be aware of this.

So, if you’re going to get a cosmetic treatment done, you want to make sure that you go to a place that has a plethora of options available for you, so they don’t just choose the one device they have that they use on everybody. They choose a device that’s going to work best for you. I would start with the basics. If you’re new to the cosmic space and you say, “Hey, look, I’ve been doing everything that you’re talking about, Dr. Youn. I’m doing the diet stuff. I’m intermittent fasting. I’m using the skincare and supplements, but I’ve got these spots that just won’t go away. And they really, I feel like I’d like to clear my skin up. What can you do that’s not going to be expensive or super painful?” First thing I would recommend would be to start on a brightening cream. Brightening cream that contains kojic acid, niacinamide, and/or licorice root extract. That will help with the dark spots from the inside out. But if you want to take that to the next level, consider IPL treatments, Intense Pulse Light. This is like a laser. The thing with IPL that’s great is that the devices are not super expensive to purchase, and a lot of places have them. It’s chemical free. So, for your listeners who are really wanting to try to avoid excess chemicals in the environment, this is literally just light that will actually zap the dark spots, cause them to turn darker, and within about a week, they start to slup off. You combine that with a good natural brightening cream and that can really target those spots well. So that’s for spots.

If you’re looking for overall just facial rejuvenation, microneedling is a great way to do that. Microneedling, I think, is huge with autojuvenation because it essentially is using your body’s own healing mechanisms to actually turn back the clock. I mentioned earlier, collagen in our skin, they’re kind of like the logs of a log cabin. They’re these fibrils that stick together. And as we get older, they become more kinked, and they start to fall apart a bit. And any of the treatments that we do, whether it’s laser, chemical peels, microneedling, we’re causing a controlled trauma to the skin. That trauma to the collagen causes the collagen as it heals to heal back in a tighter fashion. Essentially like putting those logs back tightly into that log cabin. When the treatment is so aggressive that it’s too damaging, then you can get scarring, and we don’t wanna go that far, obviously.

Microneedling is a great treatment that is very inexpensive compared to other types of treatments because the device that we use to do it literally costs us maybe $3,000 or $4,000 to purchase, which in the scheme of cosmetic medicine compared to $200,000 for a laser is not that bad. And what that does, it makes tiny little pokes in the surface of the skin, creating that acute inflammation, causing the collagen to tighten up. If you wanna take that one step further, then you can apply PRP to the surface of your skin and that contains growth factors. PRP basically, what we do is we draw your blood, we spin it down, remove the platelets, which are chock full of your own natural growth factors. And then when you do the microneedling, basically those tiny little holes that are made by those tiny little needles go to the deeper skin. If you do it very quickly after the microneedling and you apply that PRP on the surface of your skin, it will seep into those tiny little holes to essentially rejuvenate your skin from the inside out. And this is all natural. It’s just using your body’s own regenerative processes. And that also, once again, compared to thousands of dollars for a laser or a deep, deep chemical peel, much, much less expensive.

Katie: That’s great to know. And I know you go into a lot more depth in your book, which I want to make sure we mentioned, it’s called Younger for Life. And I’ll put that link in the show notes as well, because you get very detailed and you have that whole, I believe, 21-day plan in there. And so, there’s a lot of really detailed info in there.

But I would also love to get your sort of rapid fire take on some of the more controversial things related to plastic surgery and all that goes with it. I guess the first one would be things like laser hair removal because you mentioned lasers are more expensive. I know there’s pain involved with that one, good or bad or indifferent as far as effect on the body and what you recommend or don’t there.

Anthony: I think that can be very helpful for certain people, especially if you’ve got issues with folliculitis, if you’ve got issues with ingrown hairs, then that can be very helpful. In general, we recommend going to a dermatologist or plastic surgeon’s office, but there are now at-home laser hair removal devices that have become quite effective. And so, if, let’s say you live in an area and you don’t have access to a doctor, look into some of these at-home laser hair devices, because it can be, once again, quite effective.

Katie: And as far as I know, there’s none that work really well for light colored hair. That’s the downside for me.

Anthony: That is the issue, is you need pigment in the hair because the actual lasers target colors. Basically, they create heat based off of the color. And so most laser hair removal devices, the color is brown. And so, it works really well with light skin, dark hair. If you’ve got light skin and light hair does not work as well, unfortunately. And you don’t really have any, other than electrolysis, there aren’t any other great options for it unfortunately.

Katie: Okay, that’s what I thought, but good to know and verify. The next semi more controversial one I would ask about is Botox. I know this is definitely popular among a lot of the age groups, at least the people who are listening. It’s something I’ve always had a lot of hesitation around, just having recovered from autoimmune disease. I’m not a fan of putting anything that my body may not recognize in my body, but I know many women do opt for Botox. So, what’s your take on Botox and if pros, cons, what to weigh?

Anthony: So, it is the most popular cosmetic treatment in the history of the world. About five million or more people undergo Botox every year. You may not have known this as we talk. I have some like right here. And what Botox does is it’s a neurotoxin. It’s one of the most powerful toxins in the universe that we know of. But if you inject in the tiniest amount in the muscles, it will prevent the nerve transmission to those muscles and cause those muscles not to work for about three or four months. And if you inject it into wrinkles, like the front lens between the eyebrows, the forehead, or the crow’s feet, it can cause those wrinkles, essentially, those muscles, to then relax and those wrinkles to smooth out.

There are a handful of people online who do feel that they have had systemic reactions to Botox, to where they’ve had certain types of illnesses. I’ve done a lot of research into it. In my practice, we probably treated 5,000 – 10,000 people minimum with Botox. I’ve never had a major complication from it of those 5,000, 10,000 people, not one. But we do know that Botox, when it’s injected, can actually get into the cerebral spinal fluid. There have been studies that have looked at mice and finding that. So, you know, I think with anything, it is gonna be a risk benefit analysis. I’m not a fan of young people getting Botox as prophylaxis. I think that’s crazy. There are people who are encouraging that. I think that if you’ve got these lines, they really bother you, you wanna try it, start small, start in the frown lines between the brows, and you can always add more later if you want.

Katie: That makes sense. And I’m certainly not one to judge if anybody chooses to do that. The one I would say doesn’t seem like a great idea to me. And hopefully this is not a trend that’s catching on. I’ve seen people injecting it into their trap muscles to make their neck look thinner. And to me, activating an entire muscle doesn’t seem like the best idea.

Anthony: Yeah, I mean that you know what that is, is that there are doctors out there who are using the Barbie phenomenon to try to make money. And so, the idea is it’s Trap Tox or Barbie Tox is what they’re calling it to try to get a Barbie neck. There’s always doctors out there, unfortunately, who are trying to manipulate social media and their followers to get stuff that really isn’t all that helpful for them. And part of it is so they can get in the news. You know, it’s a clout thing. People are doing it for clout. And it’s unfortunate. You know, it’s the same thing with some of them recommending like Barbie makeovers. If you do all these operations to look like Barbie. And it’s just because the Barbie movie was so popular.

But in the end, with classic surgery, less is more. I tell my patients, you never regret classic surgery that you didn’t do. You only regret the work that you did that you maybe shouldn’t have had done. So really always think about it. And I’m a plastic surgeon. I do a lot of surgery, but the thing is you want to use surgery always as a last resort. And unfortunately, that’s not the case for a lot of doctors out there. It’s very disappointing.

Katie: And another even more controversial one, of course, is breast implants. And I’ve had people on here, both doctors and people who have experienced symptoms like a breast implant illness. So, I’m curious your take on that and any recommendations you have before, during, after, or in general.

Anthony: So yeah, I was one of the first plastic surgeons to go public that I believe breast implant illness is real. And I had a lot of my colleagues very angry with me. You know, I went through my traditional training and was told dogma in my training is that breast implants do not make people sick. And a lot of plastic surgeons looked at the moratorium being lifted on silicone breast implants back in 2006, 2007, as being proof that implants are safe.

The fact is, when you look at literature outside of the plastic surgery scientific literature, you look at the rheumatology literature, and there are definitely studies and surveys and case reports of people who do get sick from their implants. And when you take implants out of somebody who believes they have breast implant illness, about 55 to 85 percent of them, their symptoms will improve with those implants taken out. I do believe and I know a lot of holistic health influencers who have breast implants, some of them we are friends with, common friends with, and they’re healthy with them, but that’s not everybody. And I think it is an individual process. We need to know more about it and patients need to be informed of it. The horrible thing, though, is I know that there are plastic surgeons out there telling patients that when they come to them and I have patients tell me this, I went to see this doctor, I told him I think my implants are making me sick and he said I need to see a psychiatrist. Not get my implants out. I need to see a psychiatrist. It’s maddening.

Katie: Wow. Well, thanks for clearing that up. And I’m glad to hear on so many of these levels that there are so many options people can do even from home that can make a noticeable difference. I think that’s really encouraging news. And I love that it comes from you having the ability to recommend both and being able to do the more advanced procedures as well that you’re still the voice of saying, and there’s these things you can do that are not surgical and surgery might not be the answer. I love such a balanced viewpoint. And I love that you have been this voice for so many women. And a couple of questions I love to ask for the end of interviews. The first being if there is a book or number of books that have had a profound impact on you personally, and if so, what they are and why.

Anthony: So, I read the book, How Not to Die, and I’m not vegan or plant-based, but I really found that one changed my outlook, and really helped to push me to write the book that I wrote, Younger for Life. And the reason why I think I found it so fascinating is because it was so based in studies and references. And that was something that for me, I thought, you know what, if I’m gonna write a book, I wanna have my book be as well-researched as his. Now, once again, I’m not plant based. And some of the things that Dr. Greger has in his book, I disagree with, but I do admire that he did go the extra route and that everything in there has proof behind it, because there are so many books out there that just put people’s opinions out there and there’s no actual proof behind it. And the fact that he does include all those references and everything, to me, that was a big deal.

Katie: I will include a link to that in the show notes as well. And lastly, any parting advice for the listeners that could be related to the things we’ve talked about or entirely unrelated advice.

Anthony: Yeah, my main advice is that you can look and feel your best without going under the knife. If you just stick with the principles of autojuvenation: diet, what to eat, when to eat, supplements, and skincare. If you just stick with that, you’re going to be ahead of 98% of people. If you add some of those other things we talked about, red light therapy, dermaplaning, if you pay attention to your sleep, the right types of exercise, reduce your environmental exposures, and you’ll be even farther. So, focus on those things first. If you’re thinking about plastic surgery, do this other stuff first before you go see a plastic surgeon because hopefully you may find that by doing all this, your desire to see a plastic surgeon goes away.

Katie: Well, I appreciate all these things that you’ve shared with us in this podcast, like I said, I know there’s so much more in your book, so highly recommend you guys check that out. There’s an absolute wealth of knowledge in there. Thank you so much for your time. This has been such a fun conversation and I’m so grateful we got you coming.

Anthony: Thank you so much, Katie, appreciate it.

Katie: And thanks as always to all of you for listening and sharing your most valuable resources, your time, your energy, and your attention with us today. We’re both so grateful that you did, and I hope that you will join me again on the next episode of the Wellness Mama podcast.

If you’re enjoying these interviews, would you please take two minutes to leave a rating or review on iTunes for me? Doing this helps more people to find the podcast, which means even more moms and families could benefit from the information. I really appreciate your time, and thanks as always for listening.

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