Facial aging is not just about the skin

March 25, 2010 by  
Filed under AGING

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Botox and facelift patients, this is something you should read. Keeping your youthful look is not just about tightening the skin and smoothing out the wrinkles. Because aging goes deeper than just the skin – literally. A new study by researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center revealed that the aging process involves the facial bones as much as the skin, bones which basically support the soft tissues of the face.

The researchers reviewed 120 CT scans of male and female faces taken for a variety of medical reasons. The structural in the faces were analyzed in three age groups: young (ages 20-36), middle (41 to 64), and old (65 and older). The study findings showed that:

  • The angle of the jaw is much bigger in older people than in younger people.
  • Loss of jawbone volume was observed in older faces.
  • Jaw length and height decline with age.

According to Dr. Howard N. Langstein, professor and chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the University of Rochester Medical Center:

“The jaw is the foundation of the lower face, and changes to it affect facial aesthetics. These measurements indicate a significant decline in the jaw’s volume as a person ages, and therefore less support of soft tissue of the lower face and neck.”

It has been widely assumed that facial aging is due to loss of skin elasticity and soft tissue sagging. The role of the facial bones in the aging process has been thoroughly explored before.

The loss of the bony volume of the jaw has the following consequences:

  • Decreased chin projection
  • Loss of jaw line definition
  • Less support for soft tissues of the lower face, resulting in a softer, oval lower face
  • Sagging skin in the face and the neck

These findings may have some consequences in the future of plastic surgery, as plastic surgeons start to rethink their concept of facial aging. As they get to understand the mechanisms of aging, they can also predict the structural changes that come with time and can then act accordingly.

According to co-author Robert Shaw

“The future of facial cosmetic procedures to restore a youthful look may include methods to suspend soft tissue – such as chin and cheek implants – to rebuild the structure that time has worn away, in addition to lifting and reducing excess skin.”

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