The Ultimate Guide to Facial Aging

Aging is a natural part of life. Many people try to fight aging’s effect on their skin and general facial appearance with beauty products, scrubs and facials, various dermal injections and plastic surgery. Before jumping into a quick fix solution I recommend my patients develop a thorough understanding of how their face will age. Generally, this helps people get onboard with a long-term focused anti-aging plan.

General Factors of Aging

Many internal and external factors directly impact how we age. Having a basic overview will help you further understand the products and services offered in the skin care industry.

  • External factors include things such as sun exposure, excessive exposure to cold climates and even the gravitational pull of the earth believe it or not.
  • Internal factors are often overlooked which is a big mistake as these are things you can control. Stress, lack of exercise, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and a poor diet can accelerate the aging process and magnifying its effect on your face.
  • Genealogy plays a large role in aging. While you can’t alter your genes, you can look at your family history for valuable clues as to how you will age. So break out the old photo book and take a good look at old family photos of your parents and grandparents.

The effect of aging usually starts to appear in your thirties and compounds as time goes by. However, it’s important to note that both the rate of aging and how aging influences ones appearance differs on and individual basis due to the above internal and external factors.

How Aging Affects Each Portion of the Face

As we age our facial muscles and skin begins falling off the bone (think of icing falling off a cake that’s left out in the sun). As if that’s not enough, our general bone structure begins to shift down and forward as well. This combination impacts every section of the face:

  • Eyes: The zygomatic muscle falls and exposes the orbital rim of your eye socket. This makes people look constantly tired under the eyes.
  • Nose: The nose can begin to drop and sag. This is caused as soft tissue around the nose, such as the skin, fat and cartilage, relax. So in essence there is less of a foundation around the nose. Depending on the rate of decline a rhinoplasty procedure may be the only viable option to restore your profile.
  • Cheeks: With fat loss and decreased collagen production the cheeks begin to deflate; lose their round apple-like appearance. Later, the cheeks fall into deep grooves around the mouth called the “nasal labial folds" or parentheses. These Nasal labial folds continue to deepen causing a marionette or “puppet like appearance" giving us the appearance of jowls.
  • Lips: Sagging skin causes the corners of the lips droop (think of it as a permanent frown). Additionally many people experience a dramatic loss of volume (plumpness) resulting in thin and flat lips.
  • Wrinkles: Wrinkles, lines and creases begin to appear as the effects of a history of small muscle contractions begin to show. Squinting from the bright sun causes deep furrows between the eyebrows adding to the aging effect. Wrinkles also form around the mouth due to various activities like smoking, drinking through a straw or water bottle.
  • Skin: Over time, our skin does not retain moisture as it once did when we were younger. Also dead skin cells take longer to shed leaving a top layer of weathered skin. The result: dry and dull appearing skin.

The good news is that knowledge is power. Use this article as a starting point on your journey to fully understanding how aging will impact your appearance. Being aware of your problem areas can help you tailor solutions that will work for you. Depending on your specific genetics, environment and lifestyle there is much that can be done to both slow the aging process and minimize its effect on your face.

About the Author

Kelly Wala, RN BSN MEP-C is an Aesthetic Nurse Specialist currently practicing at Westlake Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery in Austin, Texas. Kelly helps patients realize a vibrant youthful look by providing a full complement of non-surgical aesthetic services such as facial injectables, laser and light therapy, body contouring, and skin care.