How Your Face Ages Over Time – Facial Ageing and Facial Anatomy

Face Surgery - Facelift Necklift Eyelid Lift Melbourne

Facial Ageing and your Facial Anatomy – It’s NOT only about your skin.

How Your Skull & Facial Bones Age over Time

Plastic Surgeons have an in-depth understanding of how facial skin, muscles, fat and even bones change over time. They also know exactly how to help reverse the appearance of ageing. 

Any person who’s lived beyond the age of 40 knows how it feels to observe the steady decline of facial appearance over time.  First, it’s the loss of firmness of the skin on the face, around the eyes and mouth, then deepening lines and wrinkles and before you know it your brows and jawline are sagging too. But what causes this, and is there any way to reverse the ageing process?

Unfortunately, you can’t turn back time. However, studies do indicate we can improve the average age reduction perception of a face by up to 7 to 8 years or more. This is the case when your facelift/neck lift is carried out by a good Plastic Surgeon.

What causes facial ageing and can we delay it?

Atrophy of Facial muscles causes early ageing

How many times have you stood in the mirror and checked your face at length? Do you find yourself wishing you look how you did in years past? Whilst it’s not possible, you can make a difference in the appearance of your face through; surgery, injectables AND ‘medical-strength’ cosmeceutical skincare products that contain active ingredients.

If you’re like most of us, you’ll follow an ‘unhappy mirror moment’ with a slight pushing of your facial skin with your fingers or hands. You’ll use your hands to push up; your cheeks, facial bones, forehead and brow into your hairline region.  And you’ll likely be thinking…if only.

face lift surgeon in melbourne richmond kew camberwell

While this physical lifting of your facial skin may make you feel temporarily good about your appearance it’s only temporary. You can’t exactly walk around with your hands holding back your skin.

To really feel confident with yourself and give your facial muscles the strong tone they deserve, you need an expert touch.

This might involve Plastic or Cosmetic Surgery such as; a Round Block Face Lift, a mid-face lift or upper facelift (eyelid and brow lift) or a neck lift.  Often, we can further enhance the effects of these procedures with skin rejuvenation. This includes the use of; chemical peels, light-based laser therapies, retinoid products and/or injectables. These treatments can help restore lost facial volumes in your; cheek, chin, jaw or lip area. They can also help fill the deeper crevices of well-established wrinkles on your skin.


How can you prevent facial ageing?

But why do we age, especially on the face – and why do so many people get a Facelift?

As you grow older, your facial muscles and nerves tend to shrink. So do your facial bones. This shrinkage is called ‘atrophy’ and everyone has it. However, genetics also play a factor in how rapidly we age.

As atrophy occurs, the skin loses collagen and firmness which causes it to start sagging. With less skin firmness and diminishing bones along the jaw, cheeks and brows you’ll end up noticing sagging skin and less definition in your facial features.

So atrophy is the main cause of a reduction in your youthful appearance.

face-lift-surgeon-how-faces-age-1

With strong bones, tones, and muscles, your cheeks tend to give you a more beautiful look. But with age comes the shrinking of the fibres that make up the muscle cells.

The many layers of your skin have connective tissues. These tissues give the skin firmness. Furthermore, they contain collagen fibres for support along with elastic fibres for the strength and flexibility of the facial muscles. As we get older, these fibres get smaller and reduce in numbers.

collagen reduction in facial skin as we age

Both your skull and facial bones also shrink. This combination of looser skin & less bone density means less distinguishable features. In fact,  when you’re young (a child), your brain weighs about 1.4kg, this starts to shrink from the age of 20.

Lifestyle factors

Lifestyle behaviours also affect your skin. The following are believed to actually speed up the ageing process;

  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Being significantly overweight
  • Having diabetes or high cholesterol

Sun damage

Another lifestyle factor that has a huge impact on your skin is the sun. The chemical damage to the deepest dermal layers of your face, from exposure to the harsh Australian sun (or excess sun exposure in any location), aids in the degeneration and deterioration of your facial muscles and skin.

You can end up with elastic fibres that no longer ‘recover’ or ‘bounce back into place with resiliency’. Instead, they become, essentially, un-stretchable, meaning that they start to sag.

Why do my Ears Look Bigger?

Ear Cartilage also changes. Some say it grows but the surrounding skin will lose collagen and stretch. What this means is that as we age we get lines and wrinkles around our ears or where they meet the mid-face or cheekbone area. However, a good Facial Rejuvenation Surgeon can help with this too.

wrinkles-around-ears-best-facelift-surgeon-melbourne-1

The ears (where facelift incisions are often hidden or disguised) are also made up of cartilages that may lose elasticity as time passes.

The skin stretches and sags as the collagen and elastin fibres break down. Even if the cartilage is thought to be expanding as the cells continue to divide one tell-tale sign of ageing are wrinkles and creases around the ears.

So, if your ears ARE continually growing, as many anatomists claim, then you end up with slightly bigger ears over time, with more deeply creased skin around them, both of which contribute to the ageing appearance of the face and side-on facial profile.


Why do my Cheeks look Hollow?

Facial Fat Shrinks over time and can be replaced by Dermal Filler Injectables and/or Autologous Fat Transfer for some patients

The subcutaneous layer of fat in the face also shrinks as we age. This is especially true around the cheekbones or lip area. Thin lips and diminishing cheekbones, along with sagging skin and eye area wrinkles, are key culprits for ageing laments. For a youthful appearance, full, beautiful cheeks with good nasal labial tissue strength is important.

remove nasio-labial folds around face - facelift surgeon

If the labial folds in the nasal region begin to fold, the mid-face will start to sag and droop. It will start to ‘lean into or rest upon’ other muscles groups in the face.

This is usually when you’ll begin to notice excessively sagging facial muscles, a different looking facial shape (different skull or facial bones) and increasing wrinkles on your face.

But don’t despair, there is a LOT that can be done with the advances in cosmetic and plastic surgery as well as injectables and cosmeceutical products for facial rejuvenation.

What can be done to Remedy Facial Ageing?

Remedies to Aging Facial Bones:

  • Plastic or Cosmetic Surgery,
  • Injectables,
  • Dermal Fillers or Cheekbone Volumisers,
  • Lip Enhancements and
  • Jawline or Neck lift Surgery including; Face Lift or Mini Face Lift Surgery

When the above scenarios of ageing really settle in, you may notice you are looking older or even slightly haggard. This can happen even if you take great care of your skin and body and have stayed out of the sun.   It’s interesting that a lot of people feel less optimistic as they age.

Perhaps the loss of a youthful appearance not to others but to oneself in the mirror may have some impact on emotions.  (Certainly, people who have facelift or neck lift surgery or injectables often write in public forums that they feel much better and more confident).  All people are different, however, so it’s important to seek the right type of medical attention or help if you’re feeling less great about the ageing process.

But if facial restoration is what you’re wanting, there are many ways you can use to help yourself restore some of the more youthful and radiant facial features you once had – such as improving your cheekbone area, reducing excess, sagging facial skin, and tightening the skin over the muscles and bones of the face so that you ‘lose your facial sags.’  Temporarily, of course, but the results can last for many years (ask a Specialist Plastic Surgeon such as Dr Patrick Briggs) how he achieves long-lasting yet natural-looking results using the Round Block Facelift Method).


Can Lifestyle help delay Facial Ageing?

Dieting & Exercise are also an important part of staying healthy and looking vibrant as you age

When you are asked to eat a healthy, nutritious and balanced diet, it’s not just for you to grow up healthy. It is also important to help you age more gracefully (if that’s a priority for you) and to help avoid chronic conditions such as diabetes or obesity.

Good nutritional uptake also has an impact on your skin and bones. It can help you to strengthen and repair your facial muscles and other connective tissues so that they will be able to maintain a healthy facial appearance as you get older.  So keep eating fruits and veggies, at any age, as the benefits to your appearance are often significant.  It may also be worth investigating whether or not facial muscle exercises will help or hinder maintaining a healthier-looking face. There are different schools of thought on this topic so make your own decisions.


Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery treatments for the face:  Facelift, Mini Face Lift, Upper Brow Lift, Eyelid Lift and more

You’ll often need an expert’s touch to get the right lift to your facial bones, facial skin and skull for natural-looking facial rejuvenation.

If drooping skin and sagging neck-band tissues, indistinguishable cheekbones, sagging jawlines or double to triple chins have YOU look older than your age, or older than you feel, send an enquiry form to visit Facelift Surgery Plastic Surgeons at Coco Ruby Plastic Surgery.

Dr Richard Sackelariou is an expert Facial Plastic Surgeon for natural-looking facial rejuvenation for men and women in Melbourne, Kew, Richmond, Camberwell, Mornington Peninsula and surrounds.  Patients come from all parts of Victoria to see him. He is a caring, empathetic and honest Surgeon who will help you understand the procedure, risks, potential benefits and how to keep your expectations realistic about what facial rejuvenation surgery can (and cannot) accomplish.

To find out more about face lifting, send an enquiry form below OR visit our face surgery pages. We are happy to provide you with more information or help answer any preliminary questions you may have.

face-surgery-best-surgeons-1

Plastic Surgeons have an in-depth understanding of how facial skin, muscles, fat and even bones change over time. They also know exactly how to help reverse the appearance of ageing. 

Any person who’s lived beyond the age of 40 knows how it feels to observe the steady decline of facial appearance over time.  First, it’s the loss of firmness of the skin on the face, around the eyes and mouth, then deepening lines and wrinkles and before you know it your brows and jawline are sagging too. But what causes this, and is there any way to reverse the ageing process?

Unfortunately, you can’t turn back time. However, studies do indicate we can improve the average age reduction perception of a face by up to 7 to 8 years or more. This is the case when your facelift/neck lift is carried out by a good Plastic Surgeon.

What causes facial ageing and can we delay it?

Atrophy of Facial muscles causes early ageing

How many times have you stood in the mirror and checked your face at length? Do you find yourself wishing you look how you did in years past? Whilst it’s not possible, you can make a difference in the appearance of your face through; surgery, injectables AND ‘medical-strength’ cosmeceutical skincare products that contain active ingredients.

If you’re like most of us, you’ll follow an ‘unhappy mirror moment’ with a slight pushing of your facial skin with your fingers or hands. You’ll use your hands to push up; your cheeks, facial bones, forehead and brow into your hairline region.  And you’ll likely be thinking…if only.

face lift surgeon in melbourne richmond kew camberwell

While this physical lifting of your facial skin may make you feel temporarily good about your appearance it’s only temporary. You can’t exactly walk around with your hands holding back your skin.

To really feel confident with yourself and give your facial muscles the strong tone they deserve, you need an expert touch.

This might involve Plastic or Cosmetic Surgery such as; a Round Block Face Lift, a mid-face lift or upper facelift (eyelid and brow lift) or a neck lift.  Often, we can further enhance the effects of these procedures with skin rejuvenation. This includes the use of; chemical peels, light-based laser therapies, retinoid products and/or injectables. These treatments can help restore lost facial volumes in your; cheek, chin, jaw or lip area. They can also help fill the deeper crevices of well-established wrinkles on your skin.


How can you prevent facial ageing?

But why do we age, especially on the face – and why do so many people get a Facelift?

As you grow older, your facial muscles and nerves tend to shrink. So do your facial bones. This shrinkage is called ‘atrophy’ and everyone has it. However, genetics also play a factor in how rapidly we age.

As atrophy occurs, the skin loses collagen and firmness which causes it to start sagging. With less skin firmness and diminishing bones along the jaw, cheeks and brows you’ll end up noticing sagging skin and less definition in your facial features.

So atrophy is the main cause of a reduction in your youthful appearance.

face-lift-surgeon-how-faces-age-1

With strong bones, tones, and muscles, your cheeks tend to give you a more beautiful look. But with age comes the shrinking of the fibres that make up the muscle cells.

The many layers of your skin have connective tissues. These tissues give the skin firmness. Furthermore, they contain collagen fibres for support along with elastic fibres for the strength and flexibility of the facial muscles. As we get older, these fibres get smaller and reduce in numbers.

collagen reduction in facial skin as we age

Both your skull and facial bones also shrink. This combination of looser skin & less bone density means less distinguishable features. In fact,  when you’re young (a child), your brain weighs about 1.4kg, this starts to shrink from the age of 20.

Lifestyle factors

Lifestyle behaviours also affect your skin. The following are believed to actually speed up the ageing process;

  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Being significantly overweight
  • Having diabetes or high cholesterol

Sun damage

Another lifestyle factor that has a huge impact on your skin is the sun. The chemical damage to the deepest dermal layers of your face, from exposure to the harsh Australian sun (or excess sun exposure in any location), aids in the degeneration and deterioration of your facial muscles and skin.

You can end up with elastic fibres that no longer ‘recover’ or ‘bounce back into place with resiliency’. Instead, they become, essentially, un-stretchable, meaning that they start to sag.

Why do my Ears Look Bigger?

Ear Cartilage also changes. Some say it grows but the surrounding skin will lose collagen and stretch. What this means is that as we age we get lines and wrinkles around our ears or where they meet the mid-face or cheekbone area. However, a good Facial Rejuvenation Surgeon can help with this too.

wrinkles-around-ears-best-facelift-surgeon-melbourne-1

The ears (where facelift incisions are often hidden or disguised) are also made up of cartilages that may lose elasticity as time passes.

The skin stretches and sags as the collagen and elastin fibres break down. Even if the cartilage is thought to be expanding as the cells continue to divide one tell-tale sign of ageing are wrinkles and creases around the ears.

So, if your ears ARE continually growing, as many anatomists claim, then you end up with slightly bigger ears over time, with more deeply creased skin around them, both of which contribute to the ageing appearance of the face and side-on facial profile.


Why do my Cheeks look Hollow?

Facial Fat Shrinks over time and can be replaced by Dermal Filler Injectables and/or Autologous Fat Transfer for some patients

The subcutaneous layer of fat in the face also shrinks as we age. This is especially true around the cheekbones or lip area. Thin lips and diminishing cheekbones, along with sagging skin and eye area wrinkles, are key culprits for ageing laments. For a youthful appearance, full, beautiful cheeks with good nasal labial tissue strength is important.

remove nasio-labial folds around face - facelift surgeon

If the labial folds in the nasal region begin to fold, the mid-face will start to sag and droop. It will start to ‘lean into or rest upon’ other muscles groups in the face.

This is usually when you’ll begin to notice excessively sagging facial muscles, a different looking facial shape (different skull or facial bones) and increasing wrinkles on your face.

But don’t despair, there is a LOT that can be done with the advances in cosmetic and plastic surgery as well as injectables and cosmeceutical products for facial rejuvenation.

What can be done to Remedy Facial Ageing?

Remedies to Aging Facial Bones:

  • Plastic or Cosmetic Surgery,
  • Injectables,
  • Dermal Fillers or Cheekbone Volumisers,
  • Lip Enhancements and
  • Jawline or Neck lift Surgery including; Face Lift or Mini Face Lift Surgery

When the above scenarios of ageing really settle in, you may notice you are looking older or even slightly haggard. This can happen even if you take great care of your skin and body and have stayed out of the sun.   It’s interesting that a lot of people feel less optimistic as they age.

Perhaps the loss of a youthful appearance not to others but to oneself in the mirror may have some impact on emotions.  (Certainly, people who have facelift or neck lift surgery or injectables often write in public forums that they feel much better and more confident).  All people are different, however, so it’s important to seek the right type of medical attention or help if you’re feeling less great about the ageing process.

But if facial restoration is what you’re wanting, there are many ways you can use to help yourself restore some of the more youthful and radiant facial features you once had – such as improving your cheekbone area, reducing excess, sagging facial skin, and tightening the skin over the muscles and bones of the face so that you ‘lose your facial sags.’  Temporarily, of course, but the results can last for many years (ask a Specialist Plastic Surgeon such as Dr Patrick Briggs) how he achieves long-lasting yet natural-looking results using the Round Block Facelift Method).


Can Lifestyle help delay Facial Ageing?

Dieting & Exercise are also an important part of staying healthy and looking vibrant as you age

When you are asked to eat a healthy, nutritious and balanced diet, it’s not just for you to grow up healthy. It is also important to help you age more gracefully (if that’s a priority for you) and to help avoid chronic conditions such as diabetes or obesity.

Good nutritional uptake also has an impact on your skin and bones. It can help you to strengthen and repair your facial muscles and other connective tissues so that they will be able to maintain a healthy facial appearance as you get older.  So keep eating fruits and veggies, at any age, as the benefits to your appearance are often significant.  It may also be worth investigating whether or not facial muscle exercises will help or hinder maintaining a healthier-looking face. There are different schools of thought on this topic so make your own decisions.

Further Reading about Facial Surgery

Last updated: 13/06/2022
Author profile image
Dr Richard Sackelariou - MBBS, BMedSc, FRACS (Plast)
Dr Richard Sackelariou, MBBS, FRACS/FRCS, is a leading Sydney Specialist Plastic, Cosmetic & Reconstructive Surgeon who sees patients in two locations: Double Bay, Sydney and Melbourne VIC (Australia). Dr Sackelariou offers extensive experience in attaining natural-looking, excellent surgical results for patients of all ages. Graduate of Sydney University, FRACS, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery plus additional training in Cosmetic Surgery in Paris at the Clinique Turin in 1994. BIO PAGE: Click here

Coco Ruby’s Specialist Plastic and ENT Surgeons

With a wealth of experience and training, our Specialist Plastic Surgeons are dedicated to best practice patient care and education, customising Breast Enlargement Surgery for each and every patient to best meet their needs and desired surgical outcomes.

coco ruby specialist plastic surgeons 

What to do next?

Our Patient Liaison Team can assist with any questions you may have when considering a procedure. You can send in an enquiry form below or call our Melbourne Clinic between 9 am – 5 pm Monday to Friday.

Phone 1300 264 811, Email us: enquiries@cocoruby.com.au or Book a FREE 15-minute Phone Chat with our Patient Liaison Manager or a Virtual Consultation with a Surgeon.


Disclaimer: Results depend on individual patient circumstances and can vary significantly. Results may also be impacted by a variety of factors including your lifestyle, weight, nutritional intake and overall health. Consult your Specialist Plastic Surgeon for details. This information is general in nature and is not intended to be medical advice nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Surgery risks and complications will be covered in detail during a consultation with your Surgeon.