October 31, 2004
Toll Of Gravity Not Major Cause Of Facial Aging

Plastic surgeon Val Lambros, MD says the major cause of change in facial appearance is loss of fat that causes deflation of the skin in toward muscles and bones.

PHILADELPHIA – To the surprise of many people, the loss of fat and sun exposure play a bigger role than gravity in aging the face, according to a study presented today at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) Plastic Surgery 2004 conference in Philadelphia.

“People make assumptions about how the face ages because when they pull up on their facial skin, they look better,” said Val Lambros, MD, ASPS member and author of the study. “Actually the pull of gravity on facial tissues is not a significant component of facial aging. Instead, other factors, like the loss of facial fat and sun damage are more contributory in the complex process of aging.”

In addition, the nature of facial skin changes over time becoming thinner, most notably around the eyelids. These changes are often accelerated by sun exposure, which damages the skin.

“Plastic surgeons rejuvenate the aging face by pulling up and tightening the tissue, but treatment also requires a balance between tightening tissue and replacing loss facial fat with wrinkle fillers,” said Dr. Lambros. “The key is knowing how much of each to do.”

Dr. Lambros use perfectly aligned photographs taken at different times in peoples lives to measure what moves and changes with age and found few facial features change. (same article here)

Surprisingly, he said, only a few features shifted over time. The subjects' brows fell slightly and their upper lips thinned. Their jowls became more prominent, but they expanded rather than dropped. Every other feature in the photographs remained perfectly still.

Subcutaneous fat injections are now part of the repetoire of plastic surgeons. However, fat injections and collagen injections typically last only several months.

Results: The duration of the fat injections varies significantly from patient to patient. Though some patients have reported results lasting a year or more, the majority of patients find that at least half of the injected fullness disappears within 3-6 months. Therefore, repeated injections may be necessary.

What is needed is the ability to move intact fat cells in a way that allows a higher percentage of them to survive at the transplanted location. One report I found on injection of fat into penises to make them thicker (really!) mentions that perhaps 30% of transplanted cells live. So then would several transplants over a period of a couple of years eventually result in a large enough build-up of viable fat cells at the target location that further transplants would not be necessary? Anyone know?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2004 October 31 02:08 PM  Aging Studies

Fly said at November 1, 2004 2:31 PM:

Another question is fat mobility. Cancer researchers are investigating why some cells remain fixed in place, some can move, and some actively travel to other places in the body. Turning certain membrane proteins off or on plays a major role. (Stem cells seem fairly mobile and fat contains a high percentage of stem cells.)

Fat cells in different tissues also store fat at different rates. Hormone levels affect these rates. Men tend to gain or lose weight more rapidly around the waist. If we better understood fat cell signaling, it might be possible to lose or gain fat where we desired. (Like the “fat creams” sold for reducing thighs.)

(Somewhat off topic)
Researchers shed light on cancer susceptibility using 'supermice'

“The results of this study imply that differences in gene expression levels of tumor suppressors may contribute significantly to the risk of developing cancers and may influence the way therapeutics are being developed. Serrano says "I fantasize about a hypothetical drug that moderately increases the activity of p53, p16Ink4a or ARF. This may translate in a big benefit regarding cancer susceptibility."”

Dr. Ames has estimated that cancer rate increases at the 4th power of lifespan so a doubling of lifespan would lead to an increase cancer rate of 16 times. Results such as the above may be important for reducing the incidence of cancer. (Methods to cure cancer or slow the growth or spread of a cancer will also be important.)

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