You've done everything you could to deny that you're getting older — you've suppressed your love of knitting, you've continued to wear uncomfortable shoes and then there's that old aging portrait of you that you keep hidden in the attic — but the fact remains that time marches on and there's not a lot you can do about it. There was a time that you could trick people into thinking you were younger through nips, tucks, creams and virgin blood, but not anymore. Science — oh, science! — has developed lasers that can see through all of your methods. Wrinkle mouth sad face.
Researchers at the National Taiwan University have developed a specialized microscope that can, in a non-invasive procedure, peer under the skin to examine the natural changes that occur in the size of skin cells with age. By focusing a brief burst of infrared laser light onto a subject's inner forearm, scientists were able to observe the area where the upper layer of skin (the epidermis) and the lower level of skin (the dermis) meet. The team discovered that natural aging (aging not accelerated by outside factors such as sun damage) led to an increase in the size of the basal keratinocytes (the most common skin cells in the outer layer of skin) and their nuclei. Says professor and research lead Chi-Kuang Sun, "No one has ever seen through a person's skin to determine his or her age from their skin. Our finding serves as a potential index for skin age."
The microscope developed by Sun's team could have multiple benefits. On a shallow level, the development in technology will prove the actual effectiveness of anti-aging products (which, spoiler alert, will never really work because we are all going to die). On a more serious level, the microscope's findings could provide a standardized, quantitative scale to be used by doctors to monitor skin health. Of course, there are still extrinsic factors that can skew the process such as sun, smoking and stress, but this is the closest anyone has ever come — and it's pretty damn close — to being able to tell age based on skin alone.
No more lying about your age: Scientists can now gauge skin's true age with new laser technique [Eureka Alert]
Image via Ocskay Bence/Shutterstock.