It's not just wrinkles that reveal age. A new study finds that changes in bone structure make faces look older, too. While scientists had known there are general bone changes with age, such as bone thinning, this study is the most detailed look at such alterations. Using computed tomography CT scans, researchers analyzed the facial bones of men and women across different age groups.
Aging changes in the face
Facial Aging is More Than Skin Deep - Newsroom - University of Rochester Medical Center
Facelifts and other wrinkle-reducing procedures have long been sought by people wanting to ward off the signs of aging, but new research suggests that it takes more than tightening loose skin to restore a youthful look. A study by physicians at the University of Rochester Medical Center indicates that significant changes in facial bones — particularly the jaw bone — occur as people age and contribute to an aging appearance. Presented today at the American Association of Plastic Surgeons annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas, and published in the Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery , the study suggests that the future approach to facial rejuvenation may be two-fold, first restoring structure underneath before performing skin-tightening procedures. Reviewing a collection of facial CT scans taken for other, unrelated medical reasons, plastic surgeons measured changes that occurred to facial bones over time. The CT scans were divided equally by gender and age, 20 men and 20 women in each of three age groups: young ages , middle 41 to 64 , and old 65 and older. Researchers used a computer program to measure the length, width, and angle of the mandible, or jaw bone, for each scan, and compare the results for each group. Using CT scans for this study allowed for more accurate three-dimensional reconstruction and increased accuracy of measurements, disputing previous research that relied on traditional head x-rays and suggested that the jaw bone expands with age.
Facial Aging is More Than Skin Deep
Time spares nothing, and seems particularly to have it out for our faces, paying just as much attention to skin-level deformations worry-lines, wrinkles, tumorous outgrowths as it does to the large-scale hollowings and saggings which, over time, change the actual shape of our faces. Facial aging, and changes to bone, skin, and soft tissue are, in part, genetically predetermined. In a young person, the cells comprising facial tissues are spry, and there are clearly defined compartments with intact attachments holding skin and facial structures in the appropriate locations. The appearance of tight skin, developed cheekbones, well-defined contours—with contrasting plump areas and subtle depressions —is what defines a youthful face.
In principle, to achieve the most natural and harmonious rejuvenation of the face, all changes that result from the aging process should be corrected. Traditionally, soft tissue lifting and redraping have constituted the cornerstone of most facial rejuvenation procedures. Changes in the facial skeleton that occur with aging and their impact on facial appearance have not been well appreciated. Accordingly, failure to address changes in the skeletal foundation of the face may limit the potential benefit of any rejuvenation procedure. Correction of the skeletal framework is increasingly viewed as the new frontier in facial rejuvenation.