“I want a facelift because I’m 65 years old and need to compete with women half my age at my job.”

As a board-certified plastic surgeon, I hear statements like this several times a week, and it appears I’m not alone. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), the number of people over the age of 65 who have undergone facelifts and cosmetic eyelid surgeries has more than doubled over the past 20 years. And it’s not just women who are going under the knife; more and more, men are heading to the operating room to lift necks, reduce puffy eyelids, and sharpen jawlines.

But is it really necessary to see a plastic surgeon to project your youthfulness and vigor and stay competitive in the workplace in your 50s, 60s, and beyond?

No! If you follow the holistic plastic surgery principles I outline below, virtually anybody (including you) can look five to ten years younger without going under the knife or even seeing a plastic surgeon.

Step 1: Eat to Look Younger

What we eat can have a profound impact on how old we look and how quickly we age. Avoiding certain age-wrecking foods and eating more age-fixing foods can create visible changes in your skin within a few short weeks.

Eating less sugar can dramatically reduce inflammation and slow premature aging. We all know that sugar is abundant in candy and desserts, but it also takes the form of refined carbs, like those found in white rice, pasta, and bread. That’s why it’s better for your skin (and your health) to eat whole grains instead of refined ones.

Processed foods are also terrible for your skin. They often contain too much sugar, trans fats, and unhealthy chemicals and preservatives. Avoid anything that comes pre-made in a package, especially baked and fried goods.

Anti-oxidants fight the aging process by neutralizing free radicals, which can damage the structure of your skin and internal organs. Colorful fruits and vegetables are our body’s best defense against free radicals, so eat as many of these as you can. Try to shop along the periphery of the grocery store, where you find fresh and healthy food, not in the center isles where the processed foods mainly reside.

Step 2: Apply the Right Cream to Your Skin.

Skin-care products are confusing. Department and drug stores have aisles filled with this wrinkle blaster and that anti-ager, but what is the best cream to actually make you look younger?

Look for a cream that contains retinol. More than any other skin-care ingredient, retinol is scientifically proven to thicken skin, reduce fine lines, tighten the skin, and even reverse early pre-skin cancers. That’s saying a lot for a simple, over-the-counter cream. Most large skin-care lines have their own version of a retinol cream. Begin by applying it every other night (or as directed by your physician), and increase the applications to every night, as tolerated. Although you might develop some transient flaking and dryness initially, this reaction usually subsides, and you’ll likely find that your skin looks and feels smoother, tighter, and younger within two months.

Step 3: Get More Sleep

The first question I ask patients when they tell me, “Everyone says I look tired,” is, “Well, are you tired?” The most overlooked reason we age prematurely and look fatigued is insufficient sleep. Our bodies and minds need time to recharge, rest, and rejuvenate. Try to get at least six to seven hours of sleep per night. Don’t skimp on sleep, or you’ll see it in the lines on your face.

Step 4: Consider Intense Pulse Light Treatments

After wrinkles and drooping skin, sun spots are the third most common sign of aging skin. Although lightening creams can fade these pesky blemishes, they can take two to three months to work. If you’re looking for a quicker change, consider intense pulse light treatments, which are available at most dermatologists’ and plastic surgeons’ offices. These painless, no-downtime, laser-like treatments will cause age spots to darken and fall off, usually within a week. They are an easy way to dramatically reduce the age-related changes of your skin without going under the knife or needle.

By following these four recommendations, you’ll slow down the aging process and look up to five to ten years younger after just a few short months. Here’s to your health and youth!

For more tips and tricks to Look, Live, and Be Better™, please sign up for my free e-newsletter by visiting www.dryoun.com.

Originally published at medium.com