Understanding how the Face Ages

Facial Structure: Understanding how the Face Ages

“Facial aging goes deeper than wrinkles and folds”

As we age and lose facial volume, the contour of the face changes, causing shadow patterns to develop, while youthful highlights fade. Gaining a better understanding of how your face becomes altered over time may help you and your aesthetic specialist decide on the best treatment options to address your individual concerns.

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Lines and wrinkles are signs of aging, but aging also occurs beneath the skin. Signs of aging exist at every layer of the facial structure,


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In our youth, facial features are defined and well contoured. This is commonly described as the triangle of youth.
As aging occurs, the triangle becomes inverted.


Generally as we age, facial bone changes, soft tissues (like muscles) fall due to gravity, and skin sags and droops downward. Facial fat-pads shift, while the fat-pads beneath the chin can increase in prominence, causing fullness between the neck and chin, also known as a “double chin.” The effect of the lower face getting fuller can be described as the pyramid of age.

Aging is also unique to each individual. Genetics play an important role in aging. As such, how your mother ages can provide a glimpse into how your face may change over time.

Other factors like sun exposure and diet can play a role in determining when aging begins—and how fast it progresses.


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Youthful skin is soft, supple, smooth, well hydrated, and rich with cells that renew relatively rapidly.

As we age, we experience a loss of facial glands, which results in less oil produced, contributing to less moisture in the skin. We lose collagen and elastin, which can lead to the formation of dynamic wrinkles, like laugh lines, frown lines, and crow’s feet. Due to repeated facial movement, dynamic wrinkles eventually become static lines that are gradually etched into the skin over time. Additionally, sagging can occur because skin is no longer able to bounce back as it did in our youth.

Many factors impact the way our skin ages, including lifestyle choices and genetics.

  • Lifestyle choices, like sun exposure, smoking, alcohol use, diet, and stress, can cause brown spots, rough skin, and wrinkles, as well as the premature onset and progression of aging
  • Genetics affect all layers of the skin and contribute to thinning, dryness, and loss of elasticity of the skin during the aging process


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Fat-pads are located below the skin’s surface and help to provide volume, facial contours, and fullness.

As we age, fat-pads get thinner and descend. As a result, our face may not look as round and firm as it did in our youth. Hollows can form beneath the eyes, drooping skin can cause deeper lines around the nose and mouth, loose skin can result in a sagging jawline, and fat can accumulate beneath the chin, resulting in fullness between the neck and chin (“double chin”). The loss and downward movement of fat-pads can also make the face appear deflated and sunken in the cheek area.


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Our facial muscles lie beneath our facial fat-pads. They are in repeated motion as we eat, laugh, smile, and frown.

As we age, loss of facial fat, combined with gravity and repetitive muscle activity, can lead to deep wrinkles in the face. As a result, crow’s feet form at the outer corners of our eyes, and creases form between our brows.

Facial muscles also get weaker over time. The loss of muscle tone and thinning skin can give the face a loose, sagging appearance. Our jawline loses its contour, and our profile becomes less defined.


Pleasanton Bones and Aging

Facial bones provide the foundation for muscle, fat-pads, and skin. This bone structure is what gives us our unique facial shape and contour. A youthful bone structure has full and high cheeks—as shown in the triangle of youth—and defined brow bones and less sunken eye areas.

With age, we experience facial bone loss. This type of bone loss changes the dimensions and contour of our face, causing areas around our eyes to get larger, a decrease in the angle of our brow bone, and a less sculpted jawline.


The aging process has an impact beyond the facial wrinkles and lines that form on the skin’s surface. Aging affects multiple layers, including the bone, muscles, fat-pads, and skin. This is important to understand, as it will help you and your aesthetic specialist decide on the treatment option that is right for you.

The goal of facial aesthetic treatment is to help temporarily restore facial volume and correct agerelated shadow patterns inherent to the aging face. Talk to your aesthetic specialist today about a facial assessment and discuss customized treatment options for your facial structure, genetics, and aging process, and learn how you can increase your satisfaction with your appearance.


Ask about a full-face assessment to decide on the best treatment plan to achieve the results you want.

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SF Bay Cosmetic Dermatology