When I was a doctor in government service, I was assigned to Klinik Kesihatan Teluk Bahang in Penang. My patients were kind and courteous. The place had a relaxing feel to it and I enjoyed attending to my patients.
It was there that I met Khairul, the clinic medical assistant who soon became one of my closest friends.
I was later sent to serve at Penang General Hospital after my 18-month stint at Teluk Bahang. After the four years compulsory service with the Malaysia Ministry of Health, I ventured into private practice in Penang.
Though I was no longer working with Khairul, we were still good friends and maintained contact whenever time permited.
After I shifted to Kuala Lumpur to start my own aesthetic practice, Khairul was transferred to Hospital Serdang. We hung out less with each other. We had our own lives, friends, family and careers to attend to.
A few weeks back, when my mum had an appointment at Hospital Serdang, I decided to accompany her there. Why not kill two birds with one stone, I thought. So I contacted Khairul to meet as he works there.
I was totally taken aback when I saw Khairul. The first thought that ran through my mind when I saw him was, "Man, he looks so old!"
No doubt, he still has the same facial features, but this time around, Khairul sported gray hair on his crowning glory. Wrinkles have settled into his forehead.
His cheeky smile was still exactly the same, except fine wrinkles crept up the corners of his eyes.
I noticed his cheeks have begun to sag whilst the laugh lines by the corner of his mouth looked rather prominent. He has also put on a bit of weight, probably thanks to his mother-in-law's legendary prowess in cooking.
Whilst it cannot be denied that I too have aged, my wrinkles and skin laxity have not altered much over time. Certainly not in the way that Khairul has.
This is because I indulge in regular sessions of Botulinum Toxin injections and dermal fillers a couple of times a year, not to mention the on and off sessions of skin laser whenever I have the opportunity and time.
I'm also an avid user of skincare regimes including facial cleansers, moisturisers and sunscreens.
Like death, taxes and GST, ageing is one of life's certainties. The appearance of one's whole body changes with each additional candle on his or her birthday cake.
The skin thins and dry out. Muscle tone becomes lax. These two factors contribute to the sagging appearance on a person's face as he or she gets older.
For the unlucky few, including my bff Khairul, sagging jowls creates an appearance of a double chin.
Underneath the skin is a layer of fat. This layer becomes thinner over time, creating nooks and valleys of sunken areas.
So, the face loses its plump appearance, especially noticeable under the eyes and cheeks.
Fine lines and wrinkles develop faster in smokers and sun worshippers. Pigmentation, blotchy areas and uneven skin tone become your unwanted friends.
Our gums recede and our lips become thinner. When we smile, more of the gums begin to show - not a very nice sight.
Loss of density and mass in our facial bones shrink the size of the lower face. The nose, mouth and also forehead become more prominent. The nose may develop a hooked curvature.
Interestingly, the ears become longer for some folks. Some men start to sprout coarse hair in the ears, which some ladies find rather revolting.
Khairul's gray locks of hair were beginning to show, and it is only a matter of a few years before his eyebrows and eyelashes start to turn the same shade as well.
Fine lines appear at the corner of one's eyes when a person smiles. These lines, known as crow's feet, may become permanently etched over the decades.
Have you noticed how your grandparents have sunken eyes?
Eyelid fat migrate and sink into the eye sockets. Atrocious looking eyebags sneak up on you. Dark eye circles that even our national pandas Xing Xing and Liang Liang won't be proud of appear.
Eyelids droop as the muscles of the upper eyelid weaken. For some, it may limit vision.
The corneas of our eyes might develop a grayish ring. The black of the eye loses pigment. Some elderly folk seem to have gray or light blue eyes.
Whilst changes in the body with ageing may sound dreary and depressing, the modern men and women of the 21st century have many options, including aesthetic and plastic surgery to turn back the hands of time.
Or you may just accept that ageing gracefully is inevitable and that we should just embrace it.
Dr Chen Tai Ho is an experienced aesthetic doctor who chills by the pool sipping espresso latte when he's not attending to his patients. The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice.