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February 10th, 2009
10:53 AM ET

How not to look old

John Cloud
Time


It's a question surely as old as vanity itself: how can you look young forever? A forthcoming study in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery offers one surprising idea: as you age, don't be afraid to put on a few pounds. Fat, it turns out, can significantly smooth out wrinkles and give you a younger-looking face.

The authors of the new study, a team led by Dr. Bahman Guyuron of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, are plastic surgeons who study faces for a living. They analyzed photographs of the faces of 186 pairs of identical twins taken at the Twins Days Festival, a sort of twins' pride event held every summer in (naturally) Twinsburg, Ohio. Because the pairs had identical genetic material, differences in how old they looked could be attributed entirely to their behavioral choices and environment. Guyuron's team had the twins fill out extensive questionnaires about their lives — everything from how many times they had married to whether they had regularly used sunscreen. Then a panel of four judges independently estimated the twins' ages by looking at photos taken in Twinsburg.

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