Body, Heal Thyself
Reader's Digest Canada|November 2020
Body, Heal Thyself
Why do wounds mend more slowly as we age?
Christina Frangou

WHEN A KID gets a scrape, a kiss from their grown-up and a day or two with a bandage is usually all that’s needed. When it happens to an adult, it takes more time to heal—in fact, a 40-year-old’s wound can take twice as long as the identical wound on a 20-year-old. And the process slows more the older you get.

We’re all familiar with this phenomenon, of course, but you might wonder what’s behind it. “We actually don’t have a complete answer,” admits Dr. Dennis Orgill, medical director of the Wound Care Center at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “But in my experience, it’s a slow decline from birth on.” That delay in healing can put us at higher risk for infection and prolonged pain.

To repair a wound, the body embarks on a complicated and spectacular process, recruiting a variety of cells to work together to stop the bleeding, then restore and rebuild the skin. And as we age, changes in our bodies can disrupt that process.

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November 2020