The Aging Face
With time, most adults eventually start to show subtle signs of aging in the face. The production of collagen (the substance that gives skin strength) and elastin (the substance that provides elasticity, or the ability of the skin to spring into shape) declines. Skin starts to thin and stretch. Dead skin cells don’t turn over as quickly as they once did, causing the surface of the skin to be drier. Fine lines and wrinkles appear, especially around the eyes and corners of the mouth. On top of these changes, the fat pockets underlying the cheeks shrink and sag, giving the face a more hollow look.
The rate at which the face appears to age is mostly determined by our genes. Some lucky people manage to keep their youthful looks long after others have started to develop wrinkles. However, environmental factors, like smoking or excessive exposure to the sun, can accelerate the rate of skin aging.
Restoring Youthful Looks
Some people will go to great lengths to preserve or restore their youthful looks. In 2009, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery estimates more than 2.5 million facial rejuvenation procedures were performed in the U.S. Some of the most popular procedures include microdermabrasion, chemical peels, laser skin resurfacing and IPL (intense pulsed light) treatment. In addition, more than 4.1 million injectable procedures (like BOTOX® and hyaluronic acid) were done. At the more extreme end of treatment, there’s a forehead lift (30,789 procedures) and facelift (94,247 procedures).
Exercises for the Face
Jacqueline Fulop-Goodling, D.M.D., Orthodontist in New York City, says there’s another way to restore some youthful looks without having to undergo surgery or a cosmetic procedure – by exercising the face. She explains there are many different muscles underlying the facial skin. With time, these muscles can loose their firmness, strength, and ability to hold up the skin.
Many people spend several hours of week working out the other muscles of the body. So why not include those of the face? Here are some exercises she recommends for the facial muscles:
Wag the tail. Open the mouth as far as you can and relax the tongue. Hold for about 60 seconds, then close the mouth.
Hello, Dolly. Exhale through the mouth while keeping lips tightly closed. Inflate the cheeks until you can feel some tingling. Hold this position, then open the mouth and relax.
Queen of the Jungle. This exercise is a little different because it requires you to initially work your muscles hard. Inhale through your nose and scrunch your face as tightly as you can. You will feel the tension in the muscles. Then breathe out and release. As the muscles relax, the tension will dissipate.
Fulop-Goodling says, when done consistently, the exercises give the face a more angular and youthful look. She recommends doing them for twenty minutes a day, six days a week. Like other types of exercise, patients must continue to practice or the effects will wear off. Initially, the exercises may cause a little soreness and fatigue, but these side effects will eventually go away as the muscles become stronger.
AUDIENCE INQUIRYFor general information on aging skin:
American Academy of Dermatology, http://www.aad.org
BIBLIOGRAPHYClark, H., et al., “Effects of Directional Exercise on Lingual Strength,” Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, August 2009, Vol. 52, No. 4, pp. 1034-1047.
DeFatta, Robert, M.D., Ph.D., and Edwin Williams, III, M.D., “Evolution of Midface Rejuvenation,” Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery, January/February 2009, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp. 6-12.
Gunn, David, et al., “Why Some Women Look Young for their Age,” PLoS ONE, December 2009, Vol. 4, No. 2, p. e8021.
Namura, Nari, et al., “The Effects of PNF Training on the Facial Profile,” Journal of Oral Science, March 2008, Vol. 50, No. 1, pp. 45-51.
Research compiled and edited by Barbara J. Fister