Loss of fat under your skin is a significant factor in how your face ages, according to a new study which analysed patients’ facial CT scans taken at least a decade apart – and “proves there is volume depletion and not just laxity of tissues with ageing”, declared the authors.
The patients – who weren’t undergoing facelift surgery or other cosmetic procedures – had an average age of 46 at the first scan and 57 at the second scan; the scans were used “for measuring changes in fat deposits in the midface” (the area between eyes and mouth) reported consumer.healthday.com.
The US research team at Medical College of Wisconsin found total volume of facial fat decreased by about 12% at the follow-up scan. However, while fat volume in the superficial compartment (just under the skin) decreased by an average 11%, there was a greater loss of more than an average 18% in the deep facial fat compartment.
The findings were reported in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, where lead author Dr Aaron Morgan commented: “In particular, we think deep facial fat loss removes support from the overlying fat. That causes deepening of the nasolabial fold, which runs from the nose to the mouth.
“Meanwhile, fat loss closer to the surface makes cheeks appear deflated. This could also explain the heaviness of jowls and hollowing around the eyes That can be part of ageing.”
Dr Morgan added: “The upper face has less fat to begin with, so fat loss is more apparent. In contrast, the cheek or buccal area has relatively little fat loss, so that area appears fuller as changes occur in other areas of the midface.”
Dr Morgan emphasised the findings “will help plastic surgeons design more natural approaches to facial rejuvenation”, with the aim of recreating the facial fat distribution of youth.
He said the study highlights that “volume replacement should be used in addition to surgical procedures to attempt to recreate the youthful face.”