Gravity- Nature’s Biggest Downer

I just returned from visiting the U.S. Air Force’s only operational centrifuge located at Brooks City-Base (San Antonio), Texas. During my visit and my subsequent centrifuge ride a few facts were further reinforced and I made a few new observations.

  • Gravity isn’t kind. Gravity is measured in G’s, and since the earth exerts the constant force we use to define a “G”, we are all constantly under a one G load while on the earth. Not happy with the relaxation (sagging isn’t considered politically correct) you see in the mirror? Leave the earth and visit space (0 G environment) or the moon (less than 1 G). Gravity actually makes us look older due to the downward pull on the skin when the collagen and elastin fibers start to break down. Sadly, the breakdown starts soon after birth and is usually clinically apparent when one reaches the 20 to 30 year age range.
  • If you think 1 G makes you look bad, try 9! The Air Force protocol to clear pilots, flight surgeons like myself, or engineers to fly in an F-16 requires that the prospective service-member undergo several profiles in the “fuge” to include 3 experiences with 9 G’s. While 1 G will age your face, 9 G’s gives the youngest face jowls, droopy eyelids, and floppy lips. Not a pretty sight!
  • The human body isn’t made to experience a high-G load. Maintaining consciousness during a 9G spin is difficult and requires the use of lower body muscle groups as well as a specialized breathing technique. The blood doesn’t want to stay in the brain due to the high gravity environment and tends to pool away from the G force. For the wordsmiths: the red skin lesions resembling a childhood disease that appear on the posterior portions of the body after a high-G spin are called “G”easels.
  • Failure to perform a proper AGSM (anti-G straining maneuver) results in loss of consciousness due to a blood starved brain. When this occurs, one relaxes the grips on the control, the centrifuge slows, and the body is given time to play “catch-up”. Many that experience G-LOC (G-induced loss of consciousness) will also have out of body experiences or “dreamlets” along with the usual limb jerking and eye rolling while the brain fills back up. (Don’t ask me how I know.)

So, a little gravity is good and helps keep our feet firmly planted on the ground. A lot of gravity (9 G’s) is painful and makes your body feel like a truck has hit it when the ride ends. Is there any hope for the faces that are beginning to look like they are always under a 3+ G load due to the normal collage fiber relaxation and loss of facial fat? Radiesse, a type of dermal filler, has been used for years to not only replace volume but to stimulate new collagen production.

Final conclusion- Radiesse has been tested in a 9 G environment with no ill effects. You won’t find this information in any study or scientific journal as I’m pretty sure it’s never been tested before. Official Air Force policy dictates that I deny having any knowledge of this knowledge.

Disclaimer: Dr Stephen Rath, MD, DABA is a board certified anesthesiologist as well as the owner and medical director of Fusion Medical Spa located in Ruidoso, NM. He is not an aerospace physiologist but he is willing to withstand powerful forces to prove the effectiveness of Fusion Medical Spa’s products. Comments or questions? His email address is: