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Fat loss may accelerate facial ageing: Is it irreversible?

Know how the signs of facial ageing are accelerated due to fat loss and how it’s treated by plastic surgeons.

A study has found that facial ageing has more to do with fat loss than any other thing. Read on to know what it means for facial treatments available to reverse the signs of ageing.

Written by Arushi Bidhuri |Published : February 26, 2021 3:09 PM IST

When you lose weight, you shed kilos from every inch of your body, including your face. But did you know that losing face fat can lead to ageing? A study featured in the February issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery determined how the signs of facial ageing are accelerated due to fat loss and how it's treated by plastic surgeons. Preliminary studies have shown that facial soft tissues simply change due to weakening ligaments in the midface that lead to soft tissue descent, some studies like this one suggest otherwise. Losing face fat near the surface of the skin and in deeper areas contributes to facial ageing.

For the study published in the medical journal of American Society, researchers studied the data of 19 patients who underwent computed tomography (CT) scans of the head on two occasions at least a decade apart. The patients involved in the study did not undergo any facelift surgery or any other cosmetic procedure, the scans successfully measured the changes in fat deposits in the midface. The individuals involved averaged about 46 years at the time of their initial scan and 57 years at follow-up.

Facial Fat Loss Depends On Different Factors

The results varied among patients, the results showed a "definite and measurable loss of midface fat volume." As per the study results, facial loss in the patients reduced 12.2 per cent (from about 46.50 cubic centimetres (cc) at the initial scan to 40.8 cc) at the follow-up scan. The amount of reduction was different at all levels. Fat volume in the superficial compartment (area under the skin) reduced by 11.3 per cent. The deep facial fat compartment reduced by an average of 18.4 per cent.

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The findings provide evidence to support the 'volume loss' theory of facial ageing and may help contemplate specific issues that lead patients to seek facial rejuvenation. Aaron Morgan, MD of the Medical College of Wisconsin, explained, "In particular, we think that deep facial fat loss removes support from the overlying fat. That causes deepening of the nasolabial fold, which runs from the nose to the mouth. Meanwhile, fat loss closer to the surface masks the cheeks appear deflated."

Scope For More Natural Approaches To Facial Rejuvenation

Hollowing around the eyes and the heaviness of the jowls can be explained by noticing the variations of fat volume loss. Experts explained that the upper face as less fat, which is why the fat loss around that area is more apparent. In comparison, the fat loss around the cheeks or buccal area is less, which helps them appear fuller.

According to the experts of the study, this natural approach may help plastic surgeons design more natural approaches to facial rejuvenation, with the aim of recreating the facial fat distribution of youth. "This proves there is volume depletion and not just laxity of tissues with ageing. So, volume replacement should be used in addition to surgical procedures to attempt to recreate the youthful face," concluded Dr Morgan.

(with inputs from agencies)

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