Observations on periorbital and midface aging

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2007 Oct;120(5):1367-1376. doi: 10.1097/01.prs.0000279348.09156.c3.


Background: Many of the anatomical changes of facial aging are still poorly understood. This study looked at the aging process in individuals linearly over time, focusing on aspects of periorbital aging and the upper midface.

Methods: The author compared photographs of patients' friends and relatives taken 10 to 50 years before with closely matched recent follow-up pictures. The best-matching old and recent pictures were equally sized and superimposed in the computer. The images were then assembled into GIF animations, which automate the fading of one image into the other and back again indefinitely.

Results: The following findings were new to the author: (1) the border of the pigmented lid skin and thicker cheek skin (the lid-cheek junction) is remarkably stable in position over time, becoming more visible by contrast, not by vertical descent as is commonly assumed. (2) Orbicularis wrinkles on the cheek and moles and other markers on the upper midface were also stable over decades. (3) With aging, there can be a distinct change in the shape of the upper eyelid. The young upper lid frequently has a medially biased peak. The upper lid peak becomes more central in the older lid. This article addresses these three issues. No evidence was seen here for descent of the globe in the orbit.

Conclusions: There seems to be very little ptosis (inferior descent) of the lid-cheek junction or of the upper midface. These findings suggest that vertical descent of skin, and by association, subcutaneous tissue, is not necessarily a major component of aging in those areas. In addition, the arc of the upper lid changes shape in a characteristic way in some patients. Other known changes of the periorbital area are visualized.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cheek / physiology
  • Child
  • Eyelids / physiology
  • Face / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Orbit / physiology
  • Skin Aging / physiology*