Although you may appreciate the wisdom that comes with age, one thing you may not appreciate is how aging changes the appearance of your face. It seems as though every time you look in the mirror, you see more lines, wrinkles, and sagging in places that used to have firm, full skin tone. What actually causes this loss of skin volume, and what can you do to slow it down and restore your face back to the fullness of youth?

Here, Dr. Paul Pin explains how the aging process affects your face, as well as what you can do to restore it to a more youthful appearance.

Loss of Collagen

Collagen is a protein that the body forms to fill out the body over the framework of the skeleton. It usually forms into fibers that give the face the firmness and volume of youth. This shows when you have smooth skin, full cheeks, and a firm jaw.

The estrogen hormones that our bodies produce in abundance during our youth are responsible for creating collagen. However, estrogen levels begin to drop as part of the natural aging process. Estrogen levels decrease when you reach your 30s, which also results in the loss of collagen. Once this occurs, you will start to see loss of volume in your face, in the form of sagging skin around the neck and jaw line, as well as hollowed, sunken areas around the cheekbones and eyes.

Other factors can cause premature aging of the skin. Most notably, nicotine in smoke from cigarette, cigar, or pipe tobacco can dry out the skin, leading to premature collagen loss. Similarly, excessive sun exposure without adequate protection can also damage the collagen fibers, causing them to break down faster than normal. This happens via the formation of free-radical molecules in response to premature aging of the skin. These molecules then attack the cellular structure of the skin, including the collagen fibers.

What Can You Do to Prevent Loss of Facial Skin Volume?

Dr. Pin recommends making lifestyle changes as a first line of defense against aging skin. Some examples include:

  • Use a good quality moisturizer to prevent your skin from drying out
  • If you do smoke, this is an excellent time to quit, in order to prevent further damage to your skin
  • Protect your face from the sun with sunscreen that has a high sun protection factor (SPF), large sunglasses that wrap around the side of your face, and a hat with a wide brim
  • Increase your water intake to avoid getting dehydrated
  • Add more fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet, as the added water content will also prevent dehydration

If you are considering a cosmetic procedure to improve the appearance of your face, there are several options, depending on your goals and the quality of your skin. Such procedures can range from dermal fillers to address fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes and mouth, to Botox injections for deeper frown lines between the brows, to partial or full facelifts to address sagging skin.