Debunking those Dubious “Anti-Aging” Claims: Q&A with Dr. Anna
by Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer
In the midst of our sociocultural fixation with external beauty standards, men and women alike resort to extreme anti-aging measures at alarming rates. However, those “quick fix” serums and cosmetic operations, publicized everywhere from the media to your neighborhood drugstore, cannot deliver the youth-preserving outcomes they allege.
Instead, users are coerced into spending inordinate amounts of money on ineffective products or procedures that trigger multiple health risks. Due to this pervasive false advertising, the general public has become disillusioned with the cosmetic industry and suspicious of any anti-aging practitioners who contend their method actually works—even when that assertion is true.
Here on the Suncoast, perhaps no one is more familiar with this reality than Dr. Anna Baker. As a board-certified Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Dr. Anna has been offering gentle and non-invasive treatment alternatives in the Sarasota area for 18 years. In addition, she founded Faces by Dr. Anna and Pearl Cream by Dr. Anna––two local enterprises which naturally and sustainably revitalize aged facial features to their youthful appearance.
However, despite widespread documented success, Dr. Anna still understands the stigma that has become synonymous with her line of work. In the Q&A session below, she candidly addresses these unethical practices within the anti-aging sector––and what makes her modalities stand apart.
Natural Awakenings: What are the misconceptions about anti-aging that tend to inhibit people from trusting your approach?
Dr. Anna: I feel that people are constantly bombarded with a myriad of products which promise results that cannot be attained. Picture results are often misleading due to the use of lighting and digital manipulation. However, I advertise my results in “before-and-after” photos taken under the same lighting conditions, with the face relaxed to show the muscles retightening without a staged expression to lift them up. These results are so striking that people assume they’re “too good to be true,” but they are real!
NA: How do your products and procedures differ from those available on the mainstream cosmetic market?
Dr. Anna: Both my acupuncture facelift and pearl cream three-dimensionally retighten the muscles. When we’re young, we all start out with small, full and round facial features. However, as the face ages, its muscles gradually lose their tone and begin sagging like a deflated balloon. This causes the face to become progressively larger, flatter and wrinkled.
The majority of products and non-surgical procedures on the mass market rely on “micro-injury” of the skin and muscles to produce a puffed-out effect from the body’s manufactured repair products which includes collagen, designed to fix this injury. These products then leave the affected area once it heals, so any visible signs of puffing or filling out will disappear after a month. Therefore, the skin must be injured again in order to regain that desired effect. There are no studies on the additive effects of continual micro-injury.
These products and techniques cannot be used on several areas that my procedures can successfully retighten including the eyelids, lips, ears and neck which are important indicators of age. I demonstrate this with my controlled lighting and position photographed results. I also give public seminars and private consultations where I educate people on the distinction between these two approaches.
NA: Why are mass-manufactured creams, serums and cosmetic operations generally harmful to people who rely on them?
Dr. Anna: These cosmetic products are more harmful than beneficial due to the chemicals and preservatives used to make them. The FDA does not regulate which ingredients go into these products. In fact, the manufacturers aren’t even required to report any ingredients under 0.5% of the formula or those considered proprietary. There is minimal—if any—data on the long-term health effects of using these products daily.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG.org) is a nonprofit environmental research organization that lists the chemicals found various personal care products, along with toxicity information and supporting research studies. Another informative source is the “Think Dirty” mobile app.
Cosmetic operations, which can potentially be life-threatening, cause deep tissue damage and scarring that leads to rapid aging. These procedures stretch and pull the skin in an effort to achieve a younger look. Implants and fillers are also used in an effort to return cheek curvature. However, this process leaves the patient with a new face that doesn’t resemble their younger self. Surgery cannot achieve the small, comprehensive detailing that my muscle tightening procedures and products create. In fact, the results typically look so unnatural that other people notice the indicators of surgery, rather than a desired “youthful” appearance.
Moreover, as those cosmetic results age, the person will develop mask-like features. Because surgery cannot restore the original muscle tone, additional surgeries must be performed on this decreasing muscle tone which causes that so-called “Joan Rivers” effect. My acupuncture facelift and pearl cream restore the face’s natural proportions, and the maintenance programs negate a need for additional surgery.
NA: What ingredients do your products contain, and do they eliminate the user’s exposure to artificial chemicals or toxins?
Dr. Anna: The Pearl Cream by Dr. Anna facial product only contains pearls, food-grade Chinese herbs, Vitamin E oil, organic avocado oil, sunflower oil and reverse osmosis water. There are no preservatives, so it must be kept refrigerated. The body lotion contains those same ingredients, along with extra organic oils. In addition, the cleanser is made from saponified organic oils and food-grade Chinese antibacterial herbs. My personal crusade is to formulate products that are free of harsh toxins, chemicals and other unnatural additives.
NA: Despite providing a safe, natural and effective alternative to conventional anti-aging, do you encounter skepticism in the community?
Dr. Anna: I think my work still confronts some skepticism locally. My muscle-tightening acupuncture facelift is completely different from other acupuncture facelift techniques which puff out the face through micro-injury. Many people have tried that type of acupuncture facelift without achieving successful results, but they don’t realize my method is not painful, and creates a younger-looking face that only requires one maintenance treatment every 18 months.
Pearl Cream by Dr. Anna also encounters skepticism because many people have tried other pearl cream brands that contain chemical preservatives, allowing them to be kept unrefrigerated. These preservatives kill the pearls’ amino acids, which promote muscle retightening, so they won’t yield any effects. However, the results from Pearl Cream by Dr. Anna are photo-documented. This process is slower than the acupuncture facelift, but the same outcome will be achieved over time.
NA: Can you describe the mechanics of your acupuncture facelift, and what distinguishes this method from other procedures?
Dr. Anna: My facelift technique is performed on muscle attachment groups in the scalp and neck which control all the facial and neck muscles. I apply a specific needle stimulation that makes all these muscles retighten a certain amount with each treatment, and this tightening will continue over a series of treatments.
Unlike the muscle tightening you do in the gym, which requires consistent exercise in order to maintain, my muscle retightening lasts 18 months before another treatment is needed. Again, everything is photo documented, so clients can verify that nothing has changed.
This process is different than Botox and chemical fillers which are only applied on a few areas of the face. Consequently, they cannot restore every facial muscle to its younger tone, and they must be maintained every four to six months. Botox is also the deadliest toxin known to man, with published warnings that recipients could stop breathing and swallowing up to 6 or 10 weeks after injection.
I have been able to successfully correct multiple problems caused by Botox including uneven eyebrows or “Vulcan” shaped eyebrows. In addition, I have remedied collapsed lips from filler injections. I have even solved the problem of eyes that were unable to close following eyelid surgery.
NA: Why can people trust your credentials, expertise and treatment options, versus other claims that “guarantee” unattainable results?
Dr. Anna: I have earned degrees in both engineering and Oriental Medicine. I also hold 21 U.S. Patents from my former career as an aerospace engineer with Boeing. Moreover, I have been a Doctor of Oriental Medicine here in Sarasota since 1998, and have been performing my acupuncture facelift for 15 years. I have helped over 600, people ranging in age from 33 to 96, and each client has received photo-documented results.
I’ve also been selling Pearl Cream by Dr. Anna since 2009. This venture began as a “pop-up” inside several businesses around town, and I now operate my own retail store in the Gulf Gate shops with an on-site photography studio for documentation.
NA: How do you inform people about the dangers associated with cosmetic surgery and harsh chemical additives?
Dr. Anna: I give private consultations and monthly public seminars on both the Faces by Dr. Anna acupuncture facelift and Pearl Cream by Dr. Anna. Both these formats, allow me to explain the dangers of cosmetic surgery and chemical exposure to live audiences and everyone who consults one-on-one. In addition, I have spoken about this issue on the Suncoast View program and in Natural Awakenings.
Pearl Cream by Dr. Anna is located at 2721 Mall Dr., Sarasota. For more information, call 941-921-2662, or visit PearlCreambyDrAnna.com and FacesByDrAnna.com.
Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer is the Managing Editor of Natural Awakenings Sarasota-Manatee. She also works as a freelance writer, blogger and social media marketer, based in Southwest Florida. Her personal blog HealthBeAHippie.Wordpress.com features practical tips for embracing a fit, nutritious and empowered lifestyle.