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

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 – and they know exactly how to help reverse the appearance of ageing. 

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



Whilst you CANNOT really turn back time – studies DO indicate the average AGE reduction perception of a face can be improved by up to 7 to 8 years or more, by a well performed face lift/neck lift by a good Plastic Surgeon.

So what DOES cause ageing and can it be deterred or prevented?

Atrophy of facial muscles causes early aging

How many times have you stood in the mirror and checked your face at length, wishing you could look as you did long ago? Whilst it’s not possible, you can make a difference in the aged appearance of your face through surgery, injectables AND ‘medical-strength’ cosmeceutical skin care 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, you face bones, your forehead and brow into your hairline region.  And you’ll likely be thinking…if only.

face lift surgeon in melbourne richmond kew camberwellWhile this physical lifting of your facial skin may make you feel temporarily good about your appearance – boosting your self-confidence a bit by reminding you how you looked in the mirror before gravity took over, you will discover it’s only a temporary lifting.

You can’t exactly walk around with your hands holding back your skin (or holding back the appearance of time on your face).

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

And this might involve Plastic or Cosmetic Surgery such as a Round Block Face Lift, a mid-face lift or upper face lift (eyelid and brow lift) or a neck lift.  Often, these procedures are enhanced further by skin rejuvenation using chemical peels or light-based laser therapies or retinoid products – and injectables to restore lost facial volumes at your cheek, chin, jaw or lip area – and to help fill the deeper crevices of well-established wrinkles on your skin.

But why do we age, especially on the face – and why do many people get a Facelift for best anti-ageing results of the lower face?

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, although genetics may play a factor in how rapidly we age.

As atrophy occurs, the skin also loses collagen and firmness, and starts to sag.

With less skin firmness and diminishing bones along the jaw, cheeks and brows – you’ll end up noticing sagging skin and less defined facial features.

So atrophy is the main cause of a reduction in the youthful appearance you once had.


face-lift-surgeon-how-faces-age-1With strong bones, tones, muscles, your cheeks tend to give you a more beautiful look.

But with age comes the shrinking of the fibres that constitute (make up) the muscle cells.

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

collagen reduction in facial skin as we age 

Your skull and facial bones shrink as well and the combination of looser skin & less bone density makes for less distinguishable features on your face

Regarding atrophy or shrinking of the skull, when you’re quite young, your brain weighs about 1.4kg.  It starts to shrink from the age of 20.

Lifestyle behaviours like smoking, drinking alcohol, being significantly overweight, having diabetes or high cholesterol are believed to make the brain shrink faster. Chemical damage to the deepest dermal layers of your face, caused by harsh Australian sun exposure (or excess sun exposure in any location), aids in the degeneration and deterioration of your facial muscles and skin.  They end up with elastic fibres that no longer ‘recovery’ or ‘bounce back into place with resiliency’ – they become, essentially, un-stretchable – meaning that they start to sag.


Ear Cartilage also changes (some say it grows but the surrounding skin will lose collagen and stretch) and this can often be helped by a good Facial Rejuvenation Surgeon

What this means is that you’ll get lines and wrinkles around your ears or where your ears meet your mid-face or your cheekbone area



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

The skin stretches and sags as the collagen and elastin fibers break down, even if the cartilage is thought to be expanding as the cells continue to divide, and one tell-tale sign of ageing are wrinkles and creases around the ears, and where the ears meet the middle-facial skin.   And 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.

Facial Fat Shrinks 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, especially around the cheek bones or lip area. Thin lips and diminishing cheek bones, along with sagging skin and eye area wrinkles, are key culprits for facial ageing laments. For a youthful appearance, full, beautiful cheeks with good nasal labial tissue strength is important.

remove nasio-labial folds around face - facelift surgeonIf the labial folds in the nasal region begins to fold, the mid face will start to sag, droop and ‘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 very different looking facial shape then you had when you were younger (different skull or facial bones) and increasing wrinkles on your face.

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

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 – even if you’ve taken great care of your skin and body and have stayed out of the sun.   It’s interesting also that a lot of people feel less optimistic as they age, and 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 face lift 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 Geoff Barnett how he achieves long-lasting yet natural-looking results using the Round Block Facelift Method).

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, so 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 on your appearance are often significant.  And investigate 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:  Face lift, 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 – are having YOU look older than your age, or older than you feel, send an enquiry form to visit with 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 and 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, and be sure to also register to attend one of our FREE information evenings (ask which one Dr Barnett is presenting at) – OR visit our face surgery pages. We are happy to provide you with more information or help answer any preliminary questions you may have.