Bones to Blame for Aging Face

They shrink as years go by, and this process is faster in women, study finds

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SUNDAY, Sept. 25, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Beauty, and age, is more than skin deep. In fact, it's bone-deep, a new study finds.

Researchers say shrinking facial bones play a major role in facial aging and that women experience this type of facial bone loss at a younger age than men.

"Many people believe that only gravity creates wrinkles; however, we have discovered the loss of volume in the face and changes in bone structure also contribute to making us look older," study co-author Dr. David Kahn said in a prepared statement.

"As we age, not only do we lose fat in our faces but our bones actually change in contour, often making us look older than we feel," Kahn said.

The findings were presented Sunday at a conference of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons in Chicago.

Kahn's team analyzed computed tomography scans of 30 women and 30 men ranging in age from 25 to more than 65 years old.

He and his colleagues found that, as individuals age, their facial bones dissolve, shrink and leave empty spaces. Since skin also loses elasticity as we age, it's not able to tighten around the spaces left by facial bone loss. Thus, we end up with drooping and wrinkles.

Kahn said the fact that women tend to experience facial bone loss at a younger age than men may explain why women are more likely to seek facial cosmetic enhancement at a younger age than men.

In some cases, cosmetic enhancement can restore lost volume, he said. "By using fillers, along with other cosmetic plastic surgery techniques such as forehead lifts and soft tissue repositioning, plastic surgeons can recreate volume loss caused by dissolving or shrinking bone and lift the skin to create better, more refined results for patients," he said.

More information

The American Academy of Dermatology has more about aging skin.

SOURCE: American Society of Plastic Surgeons, news release, Sept. 25, 2005


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