Aging Changes in the Face: Understanding Why the Face Ages

The human body goes through many changes with time, and these changes are especially evident when you look at an aging face. Learning what makes a face look older can help you find the best care for your face at any age.

At Gentera Center for Plastic Surgery in Coral Gables, facelift surgery is just one of the ways we can help your aging face look younger. We’ll help you boost your confidence and feel your best. 

What Makes a Face Look Older?

There are several underlying reasons why your face starts to change as you get older. 

Fat loss

One of the biggest changes is fat loss. When you are young, fat is distributed evenly around your body. However, after years of using up and replenishing your fat supply, your fat cells start to bunch up. Certain areas, such as under the eyes, tend to look thinner and sunken, but fat deposits also make areas like the cheeks and neck sag.

Loss of collagen and other connective tissue

Woman Touching Her Perfect Skin, Isolated on Grey Background

Another major change in an aging face is the loss of collagen and other types of connective tissue. Collagen is a special type of tissue that gives your skin its elasticity and softness. 

Your body produces less collagen as you age, so your skin looks thinner and less elastic. Instead of snapping back into a smooth plane, it creases and folds into wrinkles. 

The loss of elasticity also makes the effects of gravity more apparent, so your face may begin to shift downward. These sorts of changes usually cannot be fixed without a rhytidectomy, or facelift procedure.

Weakening cartilage

Your body might lose collagen with age, but it does gain another form of support. Cartilage, the firm tissue in your ears and nose, continues to grow your whole life. The change is very subtle, but your nose and ears will get larger with age. Unfortunately, while your cartilage keeps growing, it also gets weaker. As your nasal cartilage weakens, expect the tip of your nose to droop a little. 

Aesthetic changes

In addition to all these structural changes, there are also some aesthetic changes. Once your hairline has retreated a little, your forehead will start to look larger. Your skin will begin to produce less oil, which causes it to look drier. 

The number of cells you have that produce melanin will also begin to decrease. The end result is skin with patchy brown, or red “liver spots.” 

Since some skin cells are more likely to mutate with age, you are more likely to end up with skin tags, warts, and other growths.

At What Age Does Your Face Change the Most?

The short answer: Your face changes the most sometime during your 50s or 60s.

Keep in mind that many changes tend to happen with time. You can go years without any noticeable changes. However, there are a few key periods when you can start to look drastically older and possibly need facelift surgery

To answer the question “At what age does your face change the most?,” you need to understand the aging timeline.

Teens and early 20s

The aging process tends to start as early as your teens. Throughout the teens and early 20s, your face gradually loses its “baby fat,” and the supporting bones under your face finally quit growing and shifting. Though your face will still look very youthful, there is a noticeable difference between the face of someone in their 20s and that of a preteen.

Late 20s and 30s

Typically, the late 20s is the time fine lines first start to appear, but from a distance, you still won’t look recognizably old. Major changes usually don’t begin to happen until you are in your late 30s. Your skin will begin to appear thinner, duller, and drier, and you will get more pronounced wrinkles, especially around the mouth, nose, and eyebrows. Over the next decade, wrinkles and sagging will typically get worse.

Your face changes most in your 50s and 60s

For most people, the answer to “At what age does your face change the most?” is sometime in their 50s or 60s. This is around the time that the effects of gravity and fat loss become extremely noticeable. Especially for women going through menopause, the decline in estrogen causes the skin to become significantly drier almost overnight. 

Once you reach your mid-60s, you can usually tell what your senior face is going to look like. Though you will gradually lose more skin elasticity and fat, you won’t have any other drastic changes unless you develop a chronic health condition.

What Makes a Face Look Older?

There are all sorts of things that happen with age. However, not all of them are noticeable to other people. Instead, people tend to only pay attention to a few key changes when they try to determine age. 

People may assume you are older if you have one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Flattened, hollow cheeks
  • Wrinkles, especially those around the mouth and forehead
  • Extra weight around the jawline and neck
  • Hollows at the temples or under the eyes
  • Dull, dry skin
  • Skin with patches of discoloration
  • Bumpy, uneven skin
  • Droopy upper eyelids
  • Bags underneath eyes[4]

What Can You Do About an Aging Face?

Now that you know a little about what makes a face look older, let’s take a look at some common ways to address this. 

Preventative measures when you’re young

If you’re still young, a few preventative measures go a long way. Sun causes skin cells to break down more quickly, while tobacco and alcohol use can damage blood vessels in the face. Therefore, simply wearing sunscreen, avoiding smoking and drinking can drastically help with aging. 

Addressing the aging face: from filler to facelifts

No matter how careful you are, you cannot entirely avoid the changes your body undergoes. 

This doesn’t necessarily mean everyone needs a facelift procedure. The right solution will depend on the underlying cause of your aging. 

If your main issue is just wrinkles and thinning skin, filler can be a great non-invasive option. Unlike a facelift, or rhytidectomy, filler doesn’t involve major surgery. Instead, you just need regular injections to restore the lost moisture and fat in your face. Another option is Botox, an injectable that helps to relax muscles and make wrinkles less evident.

There are also all sorts of cosmetic procedures that can address specific effects of aging. A few examples:

  • If you struggle with bumpy skin, you might want a chemical peel or laser skin resurfacing.
  • If you are mostly unhappy with drooping eyelids, a blepharoplasty can make your eyes look larger and more open.
  • And if your nose is starting to look odd as you age, a rhinoplasty can return it to its former shape.

When Should I Consider a Facelift Procedure?

Non-surgical Face Lifting Procedure on a Young Woman

At a certain point, the only way to reverse the aging process is with a rhytidectomy. Also called a facelift procedure, this surgery involves manually adjusting the support structures of the face. 

During a rhytidectomy, the surgeon can remove excess skin, reposition fat, and tighten muscles. A facelift tends to provide drastic results and help reduce any effects of aging for years to come.

Facelift Surgery in Coral Gables

If you are ready to stop aging in its tracks, Gentera is here to help. Our Coral Gables plastic surgery center can assist with all sorts of effective procedures. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

What is the Difference Between a Normal Facelift and a Mini Facelift

If you’re unhappy with your aging face, your first instinct might be to get facelift surgery in Coral Gables. However, it’s important to remember that cosmetic surgery is always advancing. New treatments, like a mini facelift, can be quite effective. How do you decide between a regular or mini lift? Learning the difference between the two can help you determine which procedure you would prefer. Here are some of the main differences between a mini and regular lift.

Effects on an Aging Face

Of course, the main difference is simply the overall outcome. Both types of lifts help address some of the effects of aging, such as sagging skin, wrinkles, and drooping cheeks. However, as you might be able to guess from the name, a mini lift tends to have milder results.

Generally, mini lifts are good for addressing early facial muscle sagging. They can tighten up the jawline and gently lift the cheeks. A mini lift also helps fix the deep grooves around the nose and corners of the mouth. Some styles of mini lifts can help to tighten up the neck or reduce the size of jowls, too. Mini lifts do not usually address the upper part of the face, like the eyes and forehead.

A full facelift provides even more effects. In addition to fixing all the things a mini lift would, a full procedure can also entirely reposition facial volume and remove excess skin. It can ensure you get a smooth jawline, a neck without any wobble, less droopy eyelids, and firm, youthful cheeks. Full lifts also help to deal with deeper wrinkles like forehead grooves.

Preferred Candidates for the Procedure

Head Shot of Senior Woman Showing Wrinkles.

Due to their different effects, these two procedures tend to attract different patients. Mini lift patients are often in their early 40s or older. They are in generally good health but may have mild, chronic health conditions like arthritis.

Meanwhile, full lift patients are typically in their mid-60s. Due to the more intense procedure, full lift patients need to be in the best health possible.

Medical Techniques Used During the Lift

Most of the differences between these lifting procedures depend on how surgeons work. The standard lift has been around for decades. It involves your doctor making incisions all around the hairline and the ears. The doctor then goes through these incisions to remove excess fat, pull up drooping muscle, secure supportive tissue to the cheekbones, and remove excess skin around the cheeks.

Meanwhile, a mini lift is a newer technique that is less invasive. Your doctor will make smaller incisions and remove less skin and underlying tissue around your face. There won’t be any drastic repositioning of your facial support structures. Instead, your doctor will just remove a bit of excess tissue and maybe install some small sutures. 

Recovery Time for Mini Facelift vs. Facelift Procedures

Since a full lift is a more complicated procedure, the recovery time also tends to be longer. Every patient’s recovery speed is a little different depending on the patient’s health, tobacco usage, and surgery type. However, the general rule of thumb is that it takes about twice as long for a patient with a full lift to recover.

Mini lift patients usually need to rest and relax for at least a week. It may take up to three weeks before they feel ready for vigorous physical activity. Furthermore, swelling and bruising take at least a month to disappear. Meanwhile, for a full procedure, you’ll need to wait at least two weeks before returning to work, and you shouldn’t do any strenuous activity for a month. It can take up to four months for all the swelling to disappear and your final results to be visible.

Potential Shapes and Sizes of Scars

In any type of lift, some scars are inevitable. Usually, they are hidden under the hair or ears, so they are not immediately evident. Furthermore, your doctor can provide you with special creams and medications that make your scars as small and light as possible. However, the potential for scars is still something worth considering.

Mini lift scarring is very minimal. Most patients just have a short line hidden in the crease of their earlobe. Full procedures result in hidden scars, but the scars will be a little longer. You may get a scar that runs along the full length of your ear, and you will also have scars a few inches long under your hairline. 

Cost for the Procedure

Generally speaking, a full lift is more expensive than a mini lift. Of course, cosmetic surgery prices can vary quite a bit depending on which doctor you see. For example, if you have a mini procedure from a renowned doctor who serves high-class clientele, it might cost just as much as a full procedure at a sketchy clinic. Many other factors will determine end costs, including your aesthetic goals and your general health.

It’s impossible to compare costs fully until you get a consultation at your desired clinic. On average, though, mini procedures tend to be around $3,500 to $8,000. Meanwhile, according to the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, full procedures cost about $7,500 to $11,780. This means a mini lift is usually the better option for patients who want to save money but still get impressive results. 

How Long Do the Results Last?

Smiling Woman With Bare Shoulders Touching Face

When comparing the two procedures, don’t forget that neither is permanent. Unlike Botox and fillers, they do provide long-lasting results. However, gravity and aging will eventually make your face start to droop again. When this happens, you have the option of getting another procedure if you desire.

Generally, a full lift lasts at least 15 years, and plenty of people still see the benefits 20 years after their surgery. Mini lifts do not have quite as lengthy results. There’s a greater variety of mini lift types, so the outcome just depends on your procedure. Some people may have lifts that last around three years, while those with a more intensive mini lift may still see results ten years later.

Find the Right Option for You

As you can see, both types of procedures can have great outcomes. The right choice for you depends on your face shape, your preferred recovery time, and your desired goals. At Gentera CPS, we’re happy to discuss your options and offer personalized recommendations. If you’d like to learn more about facelift surgery, contact us to schedule a consultation.