Plastic surgeons have long debated the mechanisms aging-related changes in the face: Are they related more to “deflation” or “sagging”? A new study helps settle the debate, showing significant loss of volume in the upper lip in older adults, reports the February issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®.
The results suggest that the aging perioral (surrounding mouth) area is affected with a combination of soft tissue lengthening, thinning, and volume loss which may help to inform and improve evidence-based approaches to facial rejuvenation. The researchers analyzed magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the head obtained for other reasons in 200 adults: 100 women and 100 men. Participants were divided into a younger group aged 20 to 30 and an older group aged 65 to 80.
The measurements revealed several age-related differences in the anatomy of the upper lip. These included significant lengthening of the upper lip in older adults: about 19 percent longer in women and 18 percent longer in men, compared to the younger group. The older group also had decreased soft tissue thickness of the upper lip: by about 41 percent in women and 33 percent in men. Most of the reduction in tissue thickness occurred at the top of the lines running from the base of the nose to the corners of the lips.
The mouth and surrounding area play a primary role in emotional expression and attractiveness of the face. Lengthening, thinning, and volume loss all contribute to aging of the area around the mouth and are prime candidates for dermal fillers as minimally invasive volume augmentation.