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Age Takes Toll on Facial Bones, Study Finds
Date:1/7/2011

nd older. They then created three-dimensional reconstructions of the scans, which they used to take detailed measurements of the facial bone structure.

With age, the scans showed that the bones that make up the eye sockets recede, enlarging the sockets. A few less millimeters of bone for the soft tissues of the face to hold on to adds to the appearance of excess or droopy skin around the eyes, Shaw said.

Similar losses of volume happen in the bones of the middle face, including the brow bone, nose and upper jaw. The loss of bone can also reduce the angle of the lower jaw, which is why those with a strong jawline in their youth may not be so well-defined in old age, Shaw said.

"A nice, strong jawline is something people see as being youthful, but as you get older the angle gets more blunted," Shaw said.

For those seeking facelifts, plastic surgeons can use fillers, can move fat from one part of the body to the face or use facial implants to make up for the lost bone, Shaw said.

"It's not ever possible to bring someone back to how they looked when they were 20 years old, but adding volume back to the face can improve results for some patients," Shaw said.

Throughout your life, bone is constantly being made and reabsorbed. Aging may cause the creation of new bone to work a little less well, perhaps causing more bone to be absorbed than is created, Shaw said.

It stands to reason. With aging, bone density can also decrease, leading to diseases such as osteoporosis, which tend to impact women more often than men.

Dr. Phillip Haeck, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, called the study a "milestone" for its careful documentation of facial bone changes.

"Aging is multi-factorial. There are all these different factors that come into play in how you look at 40, 50 or 60," Haeck said. "The things that affect it are genetics, external factors such as sun damage and nicotine use. Then there is plain old lo
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