Understanding How Your Face Ages

I find myself getting asked a common and recurring question nearly every day in my work here at Maine Laser Skin Care: “Why does my face suddenly look so old?”  The age of the person asking that question ranges from the early 20s to the early 80s.

I guess you could say that the look of aging certainly sometimes depends on the beholder.  However, the perception of facial aging goes far deeper than just the appearance of wrinkles and skin folds.

As we age, our faces lose the volume under the surface of the skin that acts as the skin’s foundation.  As a result, the contour of your face changes, causing various lines and patterns to develop on the face.

In various types of light and at various angles, shadows appear to develop.  These shadows make you look older and more tired than you really are.

When we are younger, our typical facial features include high cheekbones, fullness in the cheeks, and a defined jawline.  This is described in the medical and aesthetic literature as the “triangle of youth”.

The overall impression of the face is that it is well defined and contoured.  If there are lines of separation between parts of the face, they are smooth.

The fundamental visual problem with the face as aging progresses is that the youthful triangle inverts.  The process is very gradual, but as we age, facial bones change, softer tissues including muscles get pulled by gravity more, and the skin tends to sag downward as a result.

A shifting of fat distribution in the face also occurs, resulting in loss of the fat pads in the cheeks.  Unfortunately, this shifting also means an increase in fat fullness under the chin, aka the “double chin”.

The combination of features of the aging face include flattening of the cheeks, drooping of the skin over the cheeks, sagging and lack of definition of the jawline and fat accumulating between the neck and chin.  All these changes invert the “triangle of youth” into the “pyramid of age.”

The aging of the face can also be unique to each individual.  This is where genetic factors such as bone structure and facial shape play an important role.

For women, how your mother’s face has aged over time can provide you with a glimpse into your future mirror.  Many other factors can certainly play a role, including lifetime sun exposure, cigarette smoking, diet, and general skin care.  These external factors can determine when the aging appears to begin, and how fast it will progress over time.

Before I make you too depressed about the facial aging process, I would like to emphasize that there are many treatment options available to address the problems that cause the “pyramid of aging” and reestablish a”triangle of youth.”  My goal through facial aesthetic procedures is to help restore lost tissue volume and correct the age-related lines and shadows that come with the aging face.

If you are dissatisfied with your appearance, especially in terms of looking older or more tired than your age,  please feel free to call us at (207) 873-2158 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.  I can help you decide on a customized and individual set of treatment options for your specific facial structure, genetics and skin type.

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