Thursday, June 13, 2019

Facial aging trajectories: A common shape pattern in male and female faces is disrupted after menopause

Facial aging trajectories: A common shape pattern in male and female faces is disrupted after menopause. Sonja Windhager et al. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, June 12 2019.

Objectives: Despite variation in lifestyle and environment, first signs of human facial aging show between the ages of 20–30 years. It is a cumulative process of changes in the skin, soft tissue, and skeleton of the face. As quantifications of facial aging in living humans are still scarce, we set out to study age‐related changes in three‐dimensional facial shape using geometric morphometrics.

Materials and methods: We collected surface scans of 88 human faces (aged 26–90 years) from the coastal town Split (Croatia) and neighboring islands. Based on a geometric morphometric analysis of 585 measurement points (landmarks and semilandmarks), we modeled sex‐specific trajectories of average facial aging.

Results: Age‐related facial shape change was similar in both sexes until around age 50, at which time the female aging trajectory turned sharply. The overall magnitude of facial shape change (aging rate) was higher in women than men, especially in early postmenopause. Aging was generally associated with a flatter face, sagged soft tissue (“broken” jawline), deeper nasolabial folds, smaller visible areas of the eyes, thinner lips, and longer nose and ears. In postmenopausal women, facial aging was best predicted by the years since last menstruation and mainly attributable to bone resorption in the mandible.

Discussion: With high spatial and temporal resolution, we were able to extract a shared facial aging pattern in women and men, and its divergence after menopause. This fully quantitative three‐dimensional analysis of human facial aging may not only find applications in forensic and ancient human facial reconstructions, but shall include lifestyle and endocrinological measures, and also reach out to studies of social perception.

[Full text and charts at the link above]


Throughout life, facial shape changes systematically due to growth, maturation, and senescence. What we see on the surface is the joint effect of aging and other processes in several tissue layers. Despite variation in lifestyle and environment, the first signs of facial aging become apparent between the ages of 20 and 30 (Albert, Ricanek Jr., & Patterson, 2007; Windhager & Schaefer, 2016). Facial aging results from cumulative age‐related changes in the skin, soft tissue, and skeleton of the face (Mendelson & Wong, 2012). Its manifestations reflect the combined effects of gravity, facial volume loss, progressive bone resorption, decreased tissue elasticity, and redistribution of fat (Coleman & Grover, 2006). In this article, we focus on age‐related changes in facial shape, leaving aside changes that occur in facial texture, color, and amount of facial hair. Quantifying aging patterns is not only crucial in the fields of facial reconstruction and aesthetic rejuvenation, but is also important in studies of facial recognition as well as interpersonal perception and stereotyping.

In the centennial anniversary issue of this journal, Bogin, Varea, Hermanussen, and Scheffler (2018) have just updated the Bogin classification system of human life history stages. In our study, we focus on those stages underrepresented in the physical anthropological literature (Ice, 2003): gradual decline (35–50 years), transition/degeneration age (>50 years to senescence), and senescence/old age, which shows variable onset and progression as a function of prior levels of somatic and cognitive reserves. Also, Kirkwood (2017) stresses the variability of aging, caused by “a process of progressive accumulation of defects that stem ultimately from random damage” (p. 1070). Despite individual variation in onset and progression, human facial aging shows a common pattern of morphological, histological, and dermatological changes, as addressed in numerous biomedical studies (Figure 1). Bone tissues along the orbital rim, especially superomedially and inferolaterally, have been shown to recede with increasing age, while the central orbital parts remain relatively stable throughout life (Kahn & Shaw Jr., 2008). This contributes to a more prominent medial fat pad, elevated medial brows, and the typical lengthening of the lid‐cheek junction in older age (Mendelson & Wong, 2012). Retrusion of the bony midface and the maxilla in adds to building and deepening the nasolabial folds and to increasing facial flatness (Pessa et al., 1998; Shaw Jr. & Kahn, 2007). The lengthening of the nose results from an enlargement of the piriform aperture as the bony edges recede, especially in the ascending process of the maxilla. Together with reduced soft‐tissue laxity, this also leads to a drooping nose tip (Rohrich, Hollier Jr., Janis, & Kim, 2004; Shaw Jr. & Kahn, 2007). Moreover, the height and length of the mandible decrease in older ages, whereas the mandibular angle increases (Shaw Jr. et al., 2010). Mendelson and Wong (2012), however, noted that these standard linear measures fail to identify in‐between areas of reduced facial projection, such as the mandible's prejowl region, which becomes more concave with increasing age (Pessa, Slice, Hanz, Broadbent Jr., & Rohrich, 2008; Romo, Yalamanchili, & Sclafani, 2005; Zimbler, Kokoska, & Thomas, 2001).

Example facial surface scan with aging‐related features labeled. They are the combined result of skeletal and soft‐tissue alterations and robust age markers in both sexes. Lines and wrinkles are signs of aging too, yet their locations across individual faces are more variable, so that they average out in studies of age‐specific average shapes like ours. Also, they are more susceptible to lifestyle and environmental influences. The 3D model of the example face is publicly available from Artec 3D (‐models/gesichtsscan)

Collagen fibers are responsible for the resilience and main mass of the dermis. Males have more collagen than females throughout adult life (Shuster, Black, & McVitie, 1975). With increasing age, the amount, quality, and type of collagen change (Galea & Brincat, 2000; Shuster et al., 1975). In both sexes, total skin collagen and skin thickness decrease. Yet, especially after menopause, collagen becomes reduced both in the skin and bone of female faces. Experimental estrogen administration increases skin thickness (as summarized by Brincat, Baron, & Galea, 2005), but mice models indicate that also androgen contributes to the thicker male skin (Markova et al., 2004).
The amount and distribution of subcutaneous fat further contribute to the observable facial shape. This fat is thicker (especially in the medial cheek) and more unevenly distributed in the female than in the male face (Keaney, 2016). With increasing age, however, soft tissue thickness decreases, especially between 20 and 60 years (Wysong, Joseph, Kim, Tang, & Gladstone, 2013). Midfacial ptosis is further enhanced by muscle loss and progressive muscle shortening and straightening (Buchanan & Wulc, 2015). Donofrio (2000) ascribed the physical appearance of tissue sagging to either too little or too much fat (hence the term “sagging paradox”): fat is stored diffusely in young faces, but older faces pocket fat in distinct areas. Such processes also account for ptosis of the brows and eyelid drooping, which already become apparent before age 30 (Zimbler et al., 2001).

Human lips also change throughout adulthood. Dryness increases with age and is higher on the lower lip than on the upper one (Lévêque & Goubanova, 2004). In a qualitative illustration of an aged face, Zimbler et al. (2001) described upper lip flattening and lengthening as well as a thinning and atrophy of the vermilion (red lip). Like the lips, the external ear is built solely from soft tissue. Total ear height increases with age mainly due to lobal height increase in both sexes (Asai, Yoshimura, Nago, & Yamada, 1996; Brucker, Patel, & Sullivan, 2003). Heathcote (1995) reported a lengthening of the ear by 0.22 mm per year in a cross‐sectional study of people aged 30–93 years.
Based on linear measurements of facial photographs of the same person at two ages, Pitanguy et al. (1998) derived a second‐order polynomial model to best fit the ptosis of the midfacial tissues in women with increasing age. Leta, Pamplona, Weber, Conci, and Pitanguy (2000) extended this approach toward lateral views, and both research teams further support most of the above‐described soft‐tissue patterns regarding eyes, lips, and ears in Brazilian patients of European descent. Schmidlin, Steyn, Houlton, and Briers (2018) obtained similar results in African faces and graphed their values in relation to the work of Sforza and colleagues in Italian faces. They confirmed the overall pattern, notwithstanding absolute thickness differences between the populations at a given age stage.
Despite some recent efforts to quantify age‐related shape features of the face beyond single regions (Chen et al., 2015; Mydlová, Dupej, Koudelová, & Velemínská, 2015), the evidence is still largely qualitative for faces of living humans. Combining the scarce quantitative studies is also hindered by the diverse ethnic backgrounds of the participants in these studies (Vashi, Buainain De Castro Maymone, & Kundu, 2016). Therefore, we set out to study age‐related facial shape changes in adults using a geometric morphometric approach. More specifically, we transferred—for the first time—the geometric morphometric toolkit of physical anthropology and its study of growth trajectories (Bulygina, Mitteroecker, & Aiello, 2006; Coquerelle et al., 2011; Mitteroecker, Gunz, Bernhard, Schaefer, & Bookstein, 2004) to human facial aging, including soft tissue. We study changes in appearance with chronological age in a genetically and environmentally homogeneous group from two Croatian islands and a near‐by coastal town, based on three‐dimensional facial surface scans. Local linear regressions allow for an unprecedentedly high temporal and spatial resolution.

No comments:

Post a Comment