We’ve been going down the pathway of aesthetic medicine for a century. Does this mean we know the secrets of ageing and the structure of the face? Well, not exactly, but we’re getting closer.
Cosmetic surgeons have always used what they have to work with (our faces), finding procedures that make us look younger, tighter, firmer, more relaxed, happier, well-slept… and refined them. New ingredients, technology and innovations get thrown into the mix, and what we have is an ever-evolving industry as robust as any other, but one that has been based on having an eye for it above all else.
Ageing has remained one of humankind’s most baffling, tricky topics, and our understanding of the ageing face is only just starting to make more sense.
A cosmetic surgeon, Dr Val Lambros, is collecting and studying 3D images of our faces using a high-tech 3D camera, to help understand the way the face actually ages (versus how we think it ages). This has, surprisingly, never been done before. Ultimately, these images provide us with models to predict facial ageing progression and incorporate this into facelifts and dermal filler treatments, with both techniques used to buoy the skin up as it ages.
By animating the ageing progress of a face, obvious changes can be seen. For example, the eyelids change shape to cause the eye to appear smaller, because in fact the lower lid doesn’t droop with age, but rises. Also, the bottom-most part of the septum, the part that joins our nostrils, tends to move backward.
The images are showing us that as we age, lips tend to thin out, our nostrils splay and rise, and the tip of our nose starts to fall. This makes our top lip look even thinner and move backward, taking the base of the nose with it.
How the facelift is evolving to not just lift
Lifting the facial skin and features under the assumption that they only droop as they age means cosmetic surgeons have been missing parts of the ageing face that could improve outcomes of facelifts.
Being a skilled cosmetic surgeon performing facelifts takes a lot of practice and is as much art as science: understanding the face takes time and experience, and yes, having an eye for it. Facelifts are a very specialised procedure that use key structures and techniques to lift sagging skin up, but a good surgeon will know exactly which parts to lift and which to leave – or drop.
Fillers and the facelift
Fat, water, and collagen are all lost gradually over time, and changes to bone as we age can cause the face to seem thin and appear sallow. A facelift and dermal fillers are often used to lift the facial structures and provide volume, and with this new information, we now know with greater accuracy what the face is doing, and what it will do later on down the track.
What we’re learning from Dr Labmros’ 3D images is how to more completely understand the face and how it ages using technology. Over time, Dr Lambros’ images will mean we can more accurately provide beautiful anti-ageing solutions to faces.