Hello, My Age Is: 58
Doctor’s Orders: Functional Medicine, Hormone Health, and a Little Glycolic Acid
Written by: Megan O’Neill
Published on: October 18, 2022
Shera Raisen, MD |
lead physician at The Lanby
Primary care doctor Shera Raisen, MD, listens generously, thinks about diagnoses (and health) holistically, and radiates an unhurried warmth you might associate more with a family friend than the professional you stake out to talk about hormones and gut optimization with. She also looks incredible: Her body is strong in a streamlined emerald-green sweater that also beautifully offsets her thicket of red hair. She walks around the patient room at The Lanby—a new, brilliantly reimagined, integrative version of medical primary care in New York—with grace and energy. “I have my parents to thank for good genes, but I very much believe in the combined power of nature and nurture when it comes to graceful aging,” says the mom of one. “For me, it’s about nutrition, movement, and hormone health, as well as using high-quality skin care, limiting sun exposure, and getting good sleep.”
One secret weapon is acupuncture. “Hormone health starts to go haywire in your 40s, for both women and men, and I support my levels through regular acupuncture,” says Raisen. Another is an intense once-a-week exfoliating treatment: “When my skin needs a little something extra, I end the night with this glycolic acid glow peel—it leaves my skin noticeably brighter and softer in the morning.”
Before becoming the lead physician at The Lanby, which opened in 2021, Raisen had her own integrative practice in Brentwood, California, specializing in functional medicine and hormones. “Patients need real information on their hormone levels,” she says. “You can’t make lifestyle changes if you don’t have good information on which to base them.”
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Accordingly, The Lanby’s model of preventive health care includes on-site lab work to get a comprehensive overview of a patient’s system, including hormones. “From there, we work on personalized support through food, movement, supplementation, or, as needed, prescription replacement therapy,” she says. Whether in robust health or living with something debilitating, patients sign up for a yearlong membership of unlimited visits (in-person or virtual) with both a physician and a certified nutritionist. A concierge handles everything for you—scheduling appointments, finding outside referrals for anything from a fertility doctor to the best certified fascial alignment expert, answering questions, and more.
But medicine—functional or conventional—isn’t the only consideration, Raisen says: “The best advice I received about aging, I got watching my parents. They’re both still alive and healthy, folk dancing a few times a week—they’re thriving, not surviving. To me, that translates to stay active, stay social, and just enjoy being alive.” With a mix of pizza, chlorella, meditation, and skin care that delivers, Raisen, too, thrives.
Moisturizer and eye cream really work.
Immediately after I apply this, the fine lines around my face and neck seem to relax and soften. I smooth it over my face, neck, and chest area every day, morning and night. I look forward to its rich creaminess.
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Get proactive (but allow for some pizza).
In the pursuit of longevity, there is power in being proactive. The patients who manage their stress well, maintain an active lifestyle, and eat a balanced diet are the healthiest. What feels like a common thread among them is that they’re not just “eating their vegetables,” so to speak; they take genuine pleasure in staying active and healthy both mentally and physically.
My rule of thumb is to go organic for fruits and vegetables and avoid processed foods. At the same time, I have a 13-year-old son, so I leave room for the occasional ice cream and pizza, and cheat when I’m in a bind and need to feed him chicken fingers from a box. Flexibility begets sustainability. I aim for healthy protein intake (at least 50 grams a day, ideally closer to 90 grams a day), which, incidentally, supports collagen production.
In my early 30s, I stopped being able to tolerate alcohol, so I pretty much stopped drinking altogether. I do think that’s helped slow down the aging process.
The “magic cream” is actually sunscreen.
I started being vigilant about sunscreen in medical school. From the chest up, I wear at least SPF 30 every day, even when the sun isn’t out and during winter. Collagen is the key to youthful-looking skin, and UV rays destroy collagen.
Glycolic acid delivers real—brighter,
I bookend the day with washing my face. I’m religious about using a face wash with glycolic acid, and sometimes I use a light makeup remover first, too. I use the Sleep Milk two or three times a week; it goes on nicely, and I love its creamy consistency. Given how effective the goop products have been for me, I’m willing to put in the time and effort for better results.
Meditate and exercise.
In seventh grade, I had a teacher who practiced meditation with us, and it opened up a whole new world for me. It’s been a tool I’ve leveraged to manage my stress and stay grounded ever since, especially through medical school. Whether it’s a quick Headspace meditation on the subway or a 10-day retreat, I find ways to incorporate a moment of mindfulness. I also started doing yoga in college, and it remains a key pillar of my physical and mental health. It provides a great sense of community, which is essential for happiness and longevity. I regularly practice yoga—either in Central Park with a group or alone at home—and have a serious nighttime swing dancing addiction. I’ve always loved the idea of exercise that’s community oriented and fun; I’ve actually never had a gym membership in my life.
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Truly feeling beautiful comes from the inside.
I think I probably started feeling my most beautiful at age 40—even though, let’s be honest, that’s right before your collagen starts to take a hit—and a lot of it had to do with my lifestyle. I was living in Santa Monica and had access to healthy food (between the organic farmers’ markets and Whole Foods around the corner). I was also studying the practice of tantric meditation, which deepened my understanding of the spiritual aspects of sex and taught me the importance of body self-awareness. That boosted my confidence and did wonders for my parasympathetic nervous system in terms of stress reduction.
Feed your skin—and brain.
For the past eight years, I’ve taken bioidentical hormones (estradiol and progesterone), which support healthy collagen production, as well as cognitive and bone health.
My favorite supplement is Sun Chlorella—just six chewable tablets equate to the chlorophyll in three servings of spinach. Chlorella can also help with detoxification and minimizing the absorption of dioxins, and possibly also of mercury.
Play with your kids.
If you have kids or grandkids, take advantage of getting to be silly and active with them while you can, and while they still want to play with you, too.