Facial aging not just skin deep

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Washington, Mar 24 (ANI): It takes more than just skin tightening procedures to ward off signs of ageing, for researchers claim that facial aging is not limited to skin, but it also involves significant changes in facial bones.

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.

The study suggests that the future approach to facial rejuvenation may be two-fold, first restoring structure underneath before performing skin-tightening procedures.

After reviewing a collection of 120 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 20-36), 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.

"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," said the researchers.

The study noted that the angle of the jaw increases markedly with age, which results in a loss of definition of the lower border of the face.

Jaw length decreases significantly in comparisons between the young and middle age groups, whereas the decline in jaw height from the middle to old group was noteworthy.

"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," said Dr. Howard N. Langstein.

This loss of bony volume may contribute sagging facial skin, decreased chin projection, and loss of jaw-line definition.

As jaw volume decreases, soft tissue of the lower face has less support, resulting in a softer, oval appearance to the lower face and sagging skin, which also affects the aging appearance of the neck.

"Physicians have long been taught that facial aging is caused by soft tissue descent and loss of elasticity. Though we have always known that bones change over time, until now, the extent to which it causes an aged appearance was not appreciated," said Langstein.

"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," said a co-author of the study.

The study has been published in the Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. (ANI)

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