Facial bone structure can reveal your age
Although scientists had already known that there are general bone changes with age, this study by researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Centre is the most detailed one to look at such alterations.
Using computed tomography (CT) scans, the researchers analysed the facial bones of men and women across different age groups and found that the structure of the bones differed between age groups.
These changes, they said, could influence the way skin and muscle tissue sit on the bones, contributing to an aged look.
"Physicians have long been taught that facial ageing is caused by soft tissue descent and loss of elasticity," Howard Langstein, chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery at URMC and lead researcher of the study, said.
"Though we have always known that bones change over time, until now, the extent to which it causes an aged appearance was not appreciated," Langstein was quoted as saying by LiveScience.
For their study, Langstein and his colleagues analysed CT scans of 60 female and 60 male patients` faces. The patients were split into three age groups: young (aged 20 to 40), middle-aged (41 to 64 years) and older (65 and up).
The researchers found that bones undergo a number of changes with age. In both men and women, the eye sockets became wider and longer.
The distance between the most prominent part of the brow to the top of the nose decreased, while the cheekbones stuck out less and the opening of the nose bones receded.
Meanwhile, the lower jaw shrunk in both length and height. The changes in eye-socket size and shape may contribute to forehead wrinkles and crow`s feet, the researchers said.
A decrease in jaw size could flatten the chin and soften the neckline, while changes in nose bones could lead to "decreased nasal support and projection," the researchers reported in the January issue of the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.