A Snapshot of Your Body at Different Stages by Nancy Wilson
Your age provides a good guideline for health maintenance and medical procedures. Regardless of how you feel, each decade brings with it new issues and raises specific concerns about how you take care of yourself. Women’s bodies change over time not necessarily for the worse and it helps to have a roadmap for guidance. For each age group, we’ve laid out medical issues to focus on, changes your body undergoes and cosmetic options to improve and enhance your appearance. In addition to your own regime, keep in mind that regular physical exams are critical for continued first-class health.
Issues to Watch Contraceptives – Proper contraception is critical for avoiding unwanted pregnancies as well as protecting yourself against sexually transmitted diseases. There are several methods to choose from: Condoms, the Pill, a Diaphragm and an Intrauterine Device, to name a few. See your gynecologist or family health center for information on which method is preferable.
Changes to Your Body Skin – Your skin is at its prime during your 20’s. Watch out for skin-damaging activities like smoking and drinking that can cause dryness and lines. Make sure you also use proper coverage and suntan lotion for any outdoor activities. Metabolism – You have strong bones, good flexibility and a high metabolism. You are adding both fat and muscle tone to your body. If you aren’t regularly exercising, now is the time to start. Hormones – Your body is working at peak capacity. In preparation for childbearing years, you’re producing estrogen, progesterone and androgen.
Popular Procedures Surgery of the nose – Surgery can accomplish a variety of things such as reduce the overall size, improve the tip, remove a bump, narrow or widen the width or even improve the angle between the nose and the upper lip. Breast Implants or Reduction – Millions of women are unhappy with their breasts because they’re too small, too big, shrinking, sagging, etc. Virtually every problem can be addressed by surgery and the benefits are obvious. Chin Augmentation – Many people could benefit from this procedure, but never know it because they never see themselves in profile. Chin augmentation can enlarge and improve the contour of an undersized or receding chin with no visible scaring. Surgery of the ear – On some people, their ears stick out are or are too big. Ear surgery involves reshaping or removing some of the cartilage behind the ear. And it takes less than one hour.
Alert! STDs – Practice safe sex – roughly one in three sexually active people contracts an STD by age 24. Many don’t show any symptoms. Make sure you’re tested every six months to a year.
Issues to Watch Nutrition – A balanced diet is crucial in order to fuel your life. Eat some of everything, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, proteins and starches. Avoid fad diets, which may lack important nutrients. Make sure you’re getting the FDA-approved levels of Calcium, Folic Acid and Iron. Contraceptives – Continues to be an issue well into your childbearing years.
Changes to Your Body Hormones – Your hormone levels gradually begin falling, which leads to a decline in fertility. Specifically, estrogen and progesterone levels begin decreasing. However, the number of women having children for the first time in their 30s has tripled since the mid 1970s. Metabolism – Most of us notice that we start to put on a few extra pounds once we hit the 30’s. That’s because your metabolism begins to slow down. The percentage of lean- muscle tissue in your body decreases and the fat increases. Make sure you continue or accelerate your exercise routine. Even a few added pounds can increase your risk of health problems. Skin – The rate of skin-cell renewal begins to slow down. The result is an increase in fine lines and wrinkles around your mouth and eyes. You may need to moisturize more frequently to counteract dryness. Also consider methods of exfoliation (facial scrubs, AHAs) to shed dry, dead cells.
Popular Procedures Breast Lift – At one time or another, all women notice a gradual deterioration in the size, shape and feel of their breasts. It may be due to gravity, pregnancy, breast feeding or weight gain. But they all take their toll. A breast lift is an excellent way to reshape, rejuvenate and lift sagging, shrinking breasts. BotoxTM Injections – These have become increasingly popular in the treatment of certain facial wrinkles. Botox temporarily weakens the facial muscles in the area and relaxes the skin’s surface, thereby “removing” the wrinkle. Liposuction – This is the most popular and fastest growing plastic surgery procedure in America. Fat builds up in certain areas of your body – your stomach, chin, thighs, etc. In this procedure, the unwanted fat is literally sucked out. So your legs and hips become thinner and your saddlebags disappear.
Alert! Cholesterol – As you grow older, your cholesterol levels tend to rise. Beginning with age 35, you should have your cholesterol tested every five years. If you have a family history, or your level is above 200, you should have it tested more frequently.
Issues to Watch Stress – The 40s can be the best decade, as women become comfortable with themselves, their lifestyle and careers. This also presents a period where you have your hands full, and juggling a multitude of demands can be particularly stressful. Be alert to possible stress-related disorders such as high-blood pressure and depression. Focus on eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, share your thoughts with a friend or a third party. There are many organizations to turn to for counseling and support.
Changes to Your Body Hormones – As your hormone levels drop, fertility declines sharply. You may experience pre-menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, irregular periods and dizziness. Metabolism – Each decade your basal metabolic rate drops 4-5%. That means keeping your weight consistent becomes more difficult. You need to make more of an effort to exercise and eat healthy, well-balanced meals. Skin – Collagen production is slowing down and skin becomes looser. Wrinkles and lines will begin to show or become more prominent. If you haven’t already, add a good moisturizer to your daily regime.
Popular Procedures Eyelid lift – The eyes are the first place to show signs of aging because the skin around the eyes is twice as thin as on the rest of your face. Eyelid surgery can remove bags, pouches and excess skin from under and over the eyes. Afterwards you’ll look refreshed and alert. Laser peel – Lasers are used to gently “paint” away lines, wrinkles, scars and other skin imperfections. This stimulates deeper, healthier layers of skin. It is a quick and painless procedure. Liposuction – This is the most popular and fastest growing plastic surgery procedure in America. Fat builds up in certain areas of your body – the stomach, chin, thighs, etc. In this procedure, the unwanted fat is literally sucked out. So your legs and hips become thinner and your saddlebags disappear.
Alert! Colon Cancer Screening – Doctors suggest testing for colon cancer once you hit your 40s. Every three years should be sufficient. Mammogram – You should begin to get yearly mammograms starting at 40.
Issues to Watch Control Your Weight – The National Institute of Health considers exercise “the most effective anti-aging pill ever discovered.” Exercising can help you keep your weight down and may help prevent colon cancer, endometrial and breast cancers as well. Strengthen Bones – Make sure you’re getting the daily-recommended amount of calcium. Weight training helps to increase bone density and aids calcium absorption.
Changes to Your Body Hormones – Once you reach menopause, your estrogen levels plummet by as much as 75%. There are a number of symptoms associated with this phase, such as hot flashes and sudden mood swings. The good news is you no longer have to suffer through it. See your doctor for details on treatment options. Metabolism – As you age, your calorie requirements decrease. Which means if you continue to consume at the same level, you will put on weight. The drop in estrogen levels is connected to your decreased metabolism. Skin – You may notice that your skin is becoming thinner and more delicate.
Popular Procedures Tummy Tuck – Pregnancy, weight gain and weight loss often take a tremendous toll on a woman’s figure. The stomach area becomes stretched, scarred, loose and oversized. A tummy tuck tightens up the underlying muscles giving you a flatter, firmer and tighter stomach. Facelift – One of the most famous procedures in plastic surgery, this procedure is more effective and natural-looking than ever. A facelift eliminates wrinkles, creases and lines, restoring the natural contours of your face. The results last at least 5 to 10 years. Liposuction – This is the most popular and fastest growing plastic surgery procedure in America. Fat builds up in certain areas of your body – the stomach, chin, thighs, etc. In this procedure, the unwanted fat is literally sucked out. So your legs and hips become thinner and your saddlebags disappear.
Alert! Bone Densitometry – You should be screened for osteoporosis, particularly if there is family history or other risk factors.
Issues to Watch Osteoporosis – A major concern. One in four American women will develop this disease. As bone-mineral density declines, bones become more fragile and porous. To counteract this condition, make sure you get at least 1,500mg of calcium per day. Vitamin D also helps bones absorb calcium and iron. Consider Estrogen Replacement Therapy. Estrogen not only helps guard against bone loss, but it may help prevent heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
Changes to Your Body Hormones – The balance between female estrogens and male androgens shifts. This results in thinner hair on your head, while your body hair may start to thicken or darken. Metabolism – Weight gain usually levels off at this point. Beware of extra weight in your abdomen. This area increases your risk of heart disease, elevated blood pressure and diabetes. Exercise should continue to be a part of your routine. Skin – Your skin will start to change – irregular spots become visible, pigmentation changes and growths may appear. Although this is normal, you should be aware of such changes and see your doctor if something appears out of the norm. The pigmentation spots are more commonly known as “liver spots,” where some areas appear to thin while others seem to clump.
Popular Procedures Dermabrasion – A procedure in which a special, rotating surgical instrument is used to carefully polish away surface irregularities and make your skin look smoother and younger. Chemical Peel – An excellent way to minimize the effects of aging, such as fine lines and wrinkling over the forehead, about the eyelids and cheeks, and around the mouth. A peel involves a chemical solution, which burns away the uppermost layer of the skin. All you’ll feel is a slight burning sensation in the treated areas. Surgery of the neck – A neck lift is a special procedure designed to tighten the muscles that surround the neck. This removes the unwanted “turkey neck” that comes with middle age and can be done at the same time as a facelift or with other procedures.
Alert! Thyroid – It’s common for women in their 60s to suffer from thyroid disease. Ask your doctor to check your thyroid during your next exam.