[…]For humans, faces are among the most important visual stimuli, a fact that becomes apparent in social settings – as a species we are constantly, almost obsessively, monitoring each other’s faces, paying close attention to subtle details that can give some insight into the emotional state, level of engagement, or object of attention of our associates. […]¹
There’s plenty of social, anthropological, behavioral, evolutionary and psychological studies which focus on the human face, its perception and its role in society. In this article we are not going to talk about that, but on the physiological process of aging of the face. This quote though is here to remind us of the utmost importance of our look: although inner beauty is a more profound type of beauty which does not fade with aging, outer beauty influences us deeply in our daily life; it’s no wonder that so many people are constantly looking for ways to improve their appearance.
Aging is a physiological process that occurs mainly due to loss of volume and mechanical support of the tissues. But why does it happen? The process is yet to be fully understood, but can be basically summarized in:
- changes in hormone production (such as during menopause when estrogen levels decrease whilst androgen levels increase causing dermal and epidermal changes)
- decreased metabolic rate which in turn causes fat to be stored in unwanted places
- decreased subcutaneous fat, affecting skin’s mechanical support
- muscle atrophy, affecting volume and support
- bone re-absorption, affecting again volume and support
- decreased cellular proliferative capacity
- decreased cellular DNA repair capacity
- weakening of connective tissue, causing drooping of structures such as the tip of the nose
- growth of cartilage, such as the ear cartilage, which causes longer and less aesthetically pleasant ears.
All these changes in volume, shape and consistency of the tissues contribute to the way we look when we get older. Some genetic factors influence the way we age as well as the when we age.
Aging can also be accelerated mainly by environmental causes and lifestyle choices such as:
- Sun exposure (UV-A, UV-B and UV-C rays)
- Ethanol abuse
- Drug abuse
- Tobacco use
- Emotional distress
- Sleep Deprivation
- Ozone exposure
- Unbalanced diet
Here’s where we play a big role on the way we look when we get older. And here’s where we can make a difference in the outcome with simple choices and measures:
Applying sun protection on a daily basis can make a tremendous difference on our appearance. We should not think about it only when going to the beach! UVC are an important factor in the incidence of skin malignancies too. Remember to reapply after swimming, exercising or if exposed for extended time periods. Use protective clothing too such as sunglasses and hats.
Lowering alcohol intake. Alcohol damages and reaches every cell of our body.
Quit smoking. Not just for the good of your skin, but to decrease the risk of diseases for us and for the ones around us.
Cope with stress the right way (meditation, yoga, running, a chat with a friend, a rewarding meal, … there’s plenty of ways to avoid being eaten from the inside by the stress)
Try to sleep 9 hours per night. Our whole body and systems will benefit from it.
Use cleansing and moisturizing cosmetics to easily, quickly and cheaply remove pollutants from our skin and restore its barrier functions.
Eat your vitamins! Antioxidants play a big role in fighting free radicals, such as the dangerous reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are produced by all of the factors in this list of extrinsic causes of aging.
Although there are no available treatments to reverse aging, at the moment, we found many ways to mitigate the process and counteract the changes with medical and surgical procedures:
Non-surgical treatments include:
- Dermaceuticals / Cosmeceuticals
- Chemical Peels
- Ablative Laser Rejuvenation
- Laser Resurfacing
- Non-Ablative Laser Rejuvenation
- Intense Pulse Light Treatments (IPL)
- IR (Infra-Red) Light Treatments
- LED Treatments (Light Emitting Diodes)
- Radiofrequency (RF) Treatments
- Ultrasound Treatments
- Neuromodulators (Neurotoxins), such as Botox
- Autologous Fillers (Materials derived from patient’s own tissue, such as the fat tissue used for the Autologous Fat Graft)
- Biologic Fillers (Materials derived from organic sources, such as Hyaluronic Acid fillers)
- Alloplastic Fillers² (Synthetic fillers containing silicone, Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA), Polyacrylamide, Poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA), Calcium hydroxylapatite and more)
We will thoroughly write about all of these treatments in the following posts.
¹ A Comparative View of Face Perception
David A. Leopold and Gillian Rhodes
J Comp Psychol. 2010 Aug; 124(3): 233–251
² Please be advised. Patient safety is our main concern. For this reason, we do not endorse synthetic fillers use. Clinical trial results have yet to be published in medical literature and papers covering the topic are inconclusive yet. Moreover the physicians data and stats we have are still not complete and we need more time to investigate and evaluate before endorsing the procedure on a surgeon-by-surgeon basis. Clumping, granulomas, migration, necrosis and deformities are some of the adverse reaction reported.