While it’s a common misconception that aging only appears in the form of lines and wrinkles, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The natural process of aging impacts all the facial structures, including the skin, fat pads, muscle, and bone, but certain treatments can help you turn back the hands of time. Learning how your face changes over time can help you make better-informed decisions about possible treatment options to address your individual concerns. Of course, aging is also unique to the individual, and genetics play an important role. This is why how your mother ages can provide a glimpse of how your own face may change over time. Other factors such as sun exposure, smoking, alcohol, stress and diet play a role in determining when the signs of again appear and how fast they progress.
The Triangle Of Youth & Aging
When we’re young, facial features are well defined and contoured. The typical youthful face includes high cheekbones, full cheeks, and a defined jawline — commonly described as the triangle of youth. As aging occurs, the triangle becomes inverted. Those youthful features become drooping or flattened cheeks, a sagging jaw line, and fullness between the neck and chin, also known as a double chin.
Facial Volume & Aging
As we age and lose facial volume and the contour of the face changes, shadow patterns develop and youthful highlights fade. From the late 20s to the 50s, collagen is lost and fat is redistributed, resulting in distortions to the balance, proportion, and symmetry of the face.
Treatment options include:
- Dermal fillers, which use hyaluronic acid and other anti-aging substances to help with loss of facial volume
- KYBELLA®, which uses deoxycholic acid to breakdown fat cells and diminish the appearance of a double chin
- Microneedling and microneedling with PRP, which works to increase collagen in the skin, creating a smoother, more youthful appearance
Skin & Aging
Youthful skin is soft, supple, smooth, well hydrated, and rich with cells that renew relatively rapidly. As we age, we experience a loss of facial glands, resulting in decreased oil production and contributing to less moisture in the skin. We also lose collagen and elastin, which can lead to dynamic wrinkles, laugh lines, frown lines, and crow’s feet due to repeated facial movement. Dynamic wrinkles eventually become static lines as they are etched into the skin over time. Sagging also occurs because the skin doesn’t have the same elasticity as it did in youth.
Treatment options include:
- Microneedling, which uses lots of very small needles to prick the skin and generate more collagen
- Chemical peels, which takes off the outer layers of the skin, exfoliating deeply for a more youthful, glowing appearance and diminishing the fine lines and wrinkles
- Laser treatments, which can help resurface the skin and lessen the appearance of wrinkles and acne scars
Fat Pads & Aging
Fat pads are located below the skin’s surface and help provide volume, facial contour, and fullness. As we age, fat pads get thinner and descend, which can result in hollows forming beneath the eyes, drooping skin that can cause deeper lines around the nose and mouth, loose skin that can result in a sagging jawline, and fat that accumulates beneath the chin, resulting in a double chin. This loss and downward movement of fat pads can also make the face appear deflated and sunken in the cheek area.
Dermal fillers, like Juvéderm and Restylane, are a great option for this issue because they use hyaluronic acid and collagen to plump up thin areas and restore the natural contour and firmness of the face.
Muscles & Aging
The facial muscles lie beneath the facial fat pads and are subject to a lot of repetitive motion as we eat, laugh, smile, and frown. Over time, loss of facial fat combined with gravity and repetitive muscle activity can lead to deep wrinkles in the face. Crow’s feet form at the outer corners of the eyes, and creases form between the brows. Facial muscles get weaker, and this loss of muscle tone and thinning skin can give the face a loose, sagging appearance. The jawline also loses its contour, and the profile becomes less defined.
Treatment options include:
- Botox, which works best on dynamic wrinkles because it keeps the muscles that cause the permanent wrinkles from moving
- Dysport, which is very similar to Botox and uses a form of botulinum toxin to treat fine lines, such as those between the brows, that haven’t set into deeper wrinkles yet
Bones & Aging
Facial bones provide the foundation for muscle, fat pads, and skin. This bone structure is what gives you your unique facial shape and contour. As the years go by, facial bone loss occurs. This changes the dimensions and contour of the face, causing the area around the eye to get larger, a decrease in the angle of the brow bone, and a less sculpted jawline.
One of the primary treatment options for this issue is Sculptra® Aesthetic, which is an injectable filler that uses poly-L-lactic acid to increase your body’s own collagen production and bring firmness back to the face.
It’s clear that the aging process has an impact that goes far beyond just facial lines and wrinkles that form on the skin’s surface. Aging affects multiple aspects of the face and understanding the underlying cause of your facial issues can help you decide on a treatment option that’s right for you.