As we get old, it’s not just our skin that sags, facial bones shift and droop with time, too.
Now scientists from the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, US, have, for the first time, mapped these bony ageing changes in detail.
And they conclude that both medicines and ‘mechanical devices’ could allow surgeons not just to treat the symptoms, but also to prevent these ‘facial skeleton changes’ from occurring in the first place.
Lead researcher Boris Paskhover, of the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, says the venture could open a ‘whole new paradigm in facial ageing prevention'.
He says skeletal changes were found to occur in the exact regions where cosmetic surgery is popular – around the cheeks, eyebrows, eye socket and forehead.
Dr Paskhover also noted decreases in three important angles used to measure facial geometry, as the facial bones appear to shift and tilt forwards, creating a more aged look.
Cosmetic surgeon Gary Ross welcomed the new research, saying it promises to open up new avenues of possibility when it comes to facial rejuvenation surgery.
Mr Ross, who recently became the first plastic surgeon to be officially certified by the Royal College of Surgeons professional standards system, said: ‘Certainly, we are aware of the ageing of the facial skeleton, the apparent growth of cartilage and the descent and reduction in volume of the soft tissues.
‘Although implants and enhancement of the areas overlying the bony skeleton have been the mainstay of facial ageing, there may be newer innovative mechanical devices and pharmacological treatments targeted at bony rejuvenation therapies that are worth exploring further.
‘Cosmetic orthodontics and manipulation of the bony skeleton is a rapidly expanding field in facial rejuvenation surgery. Having read this new paper, I would be particularly interested to look at facial ageing in patients already undergoing treatments for osteoporosis, such as hormone modulators, bisphosphonates, or calcitonin and compare facial ageing against those not undergoing treatments.’
But Mr Ross now says that drugs traditionally used to treat osteoporosis may be used to build bone density in those looking to freshen up their face.
Meanwhile ‘mechanical devices’ which could be used include metal implants and braces, which are currently used in craniofacial surgery for both congenital and acquired bony defects.