The anatomy of the aging face: volume loss and changes in 3-dimensional topography

Aesthet Surg J. 2006 Jan-Feb;26(1S):S4-9. doi: 10.1016/j.asj.2005.09.012.


Facial aging reflects the dynamic, cumulative effects of time on the skin, soft tissues, and deep structural components of the face, and is a complex synergy of skin textural changes and loss of facial volume. Many of the facial manifestations of aging reflect the combined effects of gravity, progressive bone resorption, decreased tissue elasticity, and redistribution of subcutaneous fullness. A convenient method for assessing the morphological effects of aging is to divide the face into the upper third (forehead and brows), middle third (midface and nose), and lower third (chin, jawline, and neck). The midface is an important factor in facial aesthetics because perceptions of facial attractiveness are largely founded on the synergy of the eyes, nose, lips, and cheek bones (central facial triangle). For aesthetic purposes, this area should be considered from a 3-dimensional rather than a 2-dimensional perspective, and restoration of a youthful 3-dimensional facial topography should be regarded as the primary goal in facial rejuvenation. Recent years have seen a significant increase in the number of nonsurgical procedures performed for facial rejuvenation. Patients seeking alternatives to surgical procedures include those who require restoration of lost facial volume, those who wish to enhance normal facial features, and those who want to correct facial asymmetry. Important factors in selecting a nonsurgical treatment option include the advantages of an immediate cosmetic result and a short recovery time.