The answer to wrinkle-free skin has been right off the top of your head all along.
New research carried out by the University of Pennsylvania, University of California–Irvine and other institutions in the US and Europe have found that the key to ageing gracefully (and as slowly as possible) may lie within your hair follicles.
Fat cells, or adipocytes, are normally found in the skin, but are lost when scars form as a direct result from ageing. The gradual degeneration of these cells causes the skin to lose elasticity over time, resulting in fine lines and sagging.
The study, conducted on mice, found that the molecule Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP) found in hair follicles could repair damaged or scarred skin by stimulating the production of fat cells.
"Essentially, we can manipulate wound healing so that it leads to skin regeneration rather than scarring," said lead scientist Professor George Cotsarelis from the University of Pennsylvania.
"Typically, myofibroblasts were thought to be incapable of becoming a different type of cell. But our work shows we have the ability to influence these cells, and that they can be efficiently and stably converted into adipocytes."
The researchers hope that this trigger can ultimately be used in the development of anti-ageing treatments, as well as that of scar-healing.
"Our findings can potentially move us toward a new strategy to regenerate adipocytes in wrinkled skin, which could lead us to brand new anti-ageing treatments."
While we're proud of our wrinkles, we certainly wouldn't argue against having the choice to smooth out one or two here and there...