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Facial Aging: Why it happens

Facial aging is a slow, gradual, continuous process that begins from the day we are born. There are many factors that contribute to the process and there are several activities that can greatly accelerate the course of facial aging.

Gravity is an unalterable fact of life and accounts for the direction at which facial tissues migrate. Facial tissue falls in a down and forward direction. There are several anchor points in the face, which limits the migration of the skin, fat and muscle and account for the particular changes commonly found in the aged face. The three main areas where changes are seen are in the cheeks, jaw line or jowls and neck. The cheeks tend to flatten with age because the cheek fat pads slide down and in and build up around the nasolabial folds. The nasolabial folds, normal structures found in everyone, are an anchor point created by an intimate attachment between the facial muscles and the skin. As the fat pads migrate to this spot, the nasolabial folds appear to deepen with age. The typical location of jowl fullness develops because of the downward gravitational pull on the lower face combined with a firm anchoring of the tissues to the bone just behind the chin. Gravity affects the neck by causing the neck muscles, fat and glands to fall forward and obscure the normal sharp angle made between the jaw and neck. Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, Dr. Warren Lent, notes that the best facelift procedures are those designed to reverse these directional forces of facial aging.

Sun exposure is the next most common contributor to the aging process. Ultraviolet rays from the sun are known to damage the natural elastic fibers found in skin. Once the skin begins to lose its natural elastic quality, it can no longer resist gravity's pull. Skin pigmentation offers a natural protective mechanism, and the more pigmentation one is born with, the better the protection. Heavy sun exposure can accelerate the aging process and aggressive sun worshipping can lead to one appearing "older" than their chronologic age. There are many measures that one can employ to protect them self from the sun. Los Angeles plastic surgeon, Dr. Lent, recommends the daily use of sun block, as well as hats, sunglasses and long sleeved shirts as the best measure of protection. A sunscreen that blocks both UV-A and UV-B light and has a minimum SPF rating of 30 is ideal.

Smoking is also a known serious accelerator of the aging process. It too, like the sun, causes the breakdown of elastic collagen fiber sin the skin. Smokers are especially prone to developing fine wrinkles, especially around the mouth and eyes. Fine wrinkles will often require Laser Skin Resurfacing as the best form of treatment. The cessation of smoking will help to prevent further damage.

Alcohol, drug use and certain medications can also lead to the rapid onset of facial aging. Limiting alcohol consumption and avoiding all unnecessary drugs are important measures to prevent any unwanted signs of the aging process.

Genetics are of course one factor that we cannot change. The genes we receive from our parents do influence our appearance later in life as they dictate skin quality, skin thickness, pigmentation and multiple other factors that determine how fast we age. A healthy life style, attention to good nutrition and the preventive measures described can hold back the inevitable changes time brings.

Dr. Lent can help reverse the forces of facial aging with his facelift procedures. He performs all plastic surgery procedures at his Beverly Hills plastic surgery office located in Los Angeles, California.