Hacking the Science behind Anti-Aging: Q&A with Dr. Anna Baker
by Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer
From an airbrushed photoshoot on the glossy cover of a fashion magazine, to advertisements for the latest craze in beauty or wellness, to cosmetic aisles overloaded with skincare brands “guaranteed” to take decades off our features, the message is unavoidable. Youthfulness is the standard of mainstream culture—it’s the obsession of our media, the stratification of our society, the benchmark that many people resort to extremes for in order to maintain.
But despite this fixation with the ideal and appearance of youth, the reality of aging is part of the human experience. We all grow older. We all notice the effects of time on our faces and bodies. We all come to terms with the visible difference between our 20-year-old selves and our more—let’s just call it—mature reflections.
This natural, inevitable process of aging doesn’t mean we can’t still feel confident, vibrant and radiant in our own looks though. In fact, it’s actually imperative that we ensure the muscles and skin cells of our faces remain healthy even in the midst of aging. And that’s where my conversation with Dr. Anna Baker ensues.
A patent-holding inventor, former aerospace engineer and Doctor of Oriental Medicine who has practiced in Sarasota for 20 years, Dr. Anna is what I refer to as the “Renaissance Woman” of aging reversal. Her safe, non-invasive and effectual techniques are able to produce—and sustain—the look of younger features without the harsh, adverse consequences of some other methods or procedures. In the Q&A below, Dr. Anna enumerates what we need to understand about the aging process and how her approach can neutralize its impact.
Natural Awakenings: Which major biological and environmental factors cause skin aging?
Dr. Anna: In Chinese Medicine, the body’s flow of energy, also known as “qi,” is viewed to slow down with the aging process and become even more stagnated as the aging continues. The blood and biochemicals cannot move as freely through the tissue, so the facial muscles lose their tone which causes the skin to droop.
The skin also gradually loses its rosy color and becomes duller with time. Western Medicine attributes skin aging to many factors, all due to changes in the body’s processes as a person grows older, especially the slowing of hormone production. Environmental factors like both stress and sun damage, for instance, can also contribute to aging in the skin.
NA: What are the steps that occur in the aging process, and when do these usually happen?
Dr. Anna: The initial period of aging happens in the mid-twenties. The muscles start to gradually lose their tightness which causes them to expand three-dimensionally. So the first stage in this process is when the face slowly becomes fuller and puffier.
This is difficult to detect, and it’s not until a person’s forties when the muscle has lost enough tone to cause the face to start becoming longer and flatter. As the muscle tone continues to decrease in a person’s fifties, the face grows wider, the cheeks become flatter, and jowls begin to form. Then, in the sixties and beyond, the continued loss of muscle tone leads to more deep lines, folds and wrinkles.
Think of this process just like a balloon deflating. When a person is young, they have a full, round balloon of muscle “air,” but as the balloon loses that muscle “air.” it becomes deflated, long, flat and rippled over time.
NA: What are common mistakes that people make when combatting the effects of aging?
Dr. Anna: First and foremost, people use techniques that actually damage the muscles and cause aging to occur faster. Plastic surgery impairs the muscles at their foundation and causes massive structural damage that accelerates the effects of aging.
As a result, a person can lose their original facial proportions and look “plastic” after the surgery. This appearance becomes even more noticeable as the lift ages. If a person undergoes a second operation, they will have even less muscle tone, and the results can leave them almost unrecognizable like what happened to Joan Rivers, for example.
In addition, “non-surgical” procedures cause what I refer to as “micro-injury” to the muscles through many techniques such as needles, electric currents, lasers and chemicals. The body sends repair chemicals such as collagen to the injury sites which “puffs” the areas while they heal. This leaves the person with a fuller looking face, but after the sites are healed, the repair chemicals recede.
These techniques are just localized to certain places on the face because they can’t target all the areas such as eyelids, ears, nose and neck. There is no long-term data on the effects of repeated micro-injury over the course of several years, but it’s known that repeated sunburns can lead to skin cancer at a later stage in life.
Next, filler injections and Botox only treat small areas and use chemicals that have not been studied for long-term health effects. The side-effects of Botox warn of not being able to breathe or swallow, both of which can happen as many as 10 weeks after the application. Botox can also cause unwanted effects such as “Vulcan eyebrows,” where a v-shape forms, or another type where the eyebrow hairs stick out vertically with small lumps formed underneath.
Injections can also cause nerve damage and lip collapse, as well as severe allergic reactions with massive facial swelling. I have personally witnessed all of these happen to patients who have come into my practice.
NA: How does your acupuncture facelift address and reverse the effects of aging on skin?
Dr. Anna: The skin of the face covers the facial muscles, so when the muscles have lost their tone, the skin appears sagged and wrinkled. However, by retightening those muscles underneath, the skin becomes smoother. My acupuncture facelift three-dimensionally retightens all the muscles of both the face and neck.
This is a direct reversal of how the muscles age which involves puffing out, then gradually deflating and sinking down. My 12 needle technique (none used on the face) causes the muscles to tighten along the route they sagged to achieve the exact features the person’s face originally had. This is important because we all have a program in our brains that knows in precise detail how every muscle on the face should look at every point in the aging process.
We usually tend to know around how old a person is when we meet them for the first time. So for this reason, we notice if someone has been altering their face with those surgical or non-surgical methods I discussed earlier. We always know when something about their appearance “just doesn’t look right,” and we conclude the person is older than they are—which is exactly the opposite of what this person aimed for to begin with!
NA: How does your pearl cream formula address and reverse the effects of aging on skin?
Dr. Anna: Pearls are formed when the oyster sucks an element into its shell like a parasite or a grain of sand. The lining of that shell gives off a compound which is comprised of amino acids and micro particles of shell.
The amino acids have the ability to surround and encapsulate the foreign object. They continue to build more layers until a pearl is formed. In humans, these amino acids, when applied topically, cause the muscles to retighten and, when taken internally, cause the bones to densify. Pearls have been used in Chinese medicine for over 2000 years to heal burns and scars. The description of their properties is “regenerating flesh.”
The product I invented, Pearl Cream by Dr. Anna, harnesses the muscle tightening abilities of these amino acids to three-dimensionally retighten the facial muscles. Pearl Cream by Dr. Anna additionally has Chinese herbs that increase blood flow to the face and remove impurities from the skin. My formula is made without any preservatives. There are other pearl creams available, but they all contain preservatives, and they have no muscle retightening abilities because those preservatives kill the pearl amino acids.
Using my pearl cream provides the identical results as my acupuncture facelift. However, it takes much longer to achieve the same amount of tightening. The fastest retightening happens when both the acupuncture and the Pearl Cream by Dr. Anna are used in conjunction. With my acupuncture facelift, I can only retighten the muscles of the face and neck, whereas Pearl Cream by Dr. Anna also comes in a body lotion formula that retightens any sagged muscles and skin all over the body.
NA: What are some important anti-aging rituals to include as part of one’s self-care routine?
Dr. Anna: As I discussed before, aging starts much earlier than we realize. Avoidance of sun damage is one of the most crucial preventative measures we can take. However, the commercially available sunscreens contain sun-blocking chemicals that are thought to be carcinogenic.
The positive news is, the amino acid complex used in Pearl Cream by Dr. Anna has micro pieces of shell that create an SPF of 10. With the addition of mineral makeup, and you can achieve an SPF of 20 which is enough for a normal day of occasional sun exposure. Commercial sunscreens then only need to be used when you are outside all afternoon at the beach, golf course, pool or tennis court, for example.
In addition, it’s essential to avoid any procedures that will stretch or damage the skin such as facials and peels. Also, it used to be presumed that skin was a barrier to chemicals, but then medical science discovered this is not the case, so read the ingredients carefully in whatever products you purchase and check the EWG.org website or Think Dirty mobile app to learn each product’s toxicity ratings.
Hormone reduction, due to aging, also contributes to the loss of muscle tone. Medical and bioidentical hormone replacements do not correct this loss, but Pearl Cream by Dr. Anna contains Chinese herbs that support hormone production and return those benefits to the skin.
For more information on both the acupuncture facelift and the pearl cream skin formula, or to view photographed results of these anti-aging interventions, visit FacesByDrAnna.com and PearlCreamByDrAnna.com. To schedule an acupuncture consultation with Dr. Anna, call 941-921-2662. To learn more about Pearl Cream by Dr. Anna, visit her retail store located at 2721 Mall Drive, Sarasota.
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 an active, nutritious and empowered lifestyle.