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How Your Face Changes As You Age & What You Can Do About It

Have you ever stood in front of a mirror, looked at yourself, and wondered:

  • What happened to my face?
  • What will I look like in 10 years?
  • Can I do anything to look better?

If you've ever asked yourself any of these questions, read on.

In this article, I am going to describe what happens to your face as you age and what you can do about it to keep yourself looking younger and fresher.

As we age, looking in the mirror can become harder and harder to do. In fact, a recent study showed that many people stop looking in the mirror after the age of 45 because we don't want to see what time has done to our faces and bodies.

The effects of aging can be seen in our faces with signs such as:



  • Sagging skin
  • Hollowing such as sunken cheeks
  • Wrinkles and lines
  • Blemishes such as age spots and sun spots
  • Various growths
  • and more... 

For some people, this can have a negative connotation, hurting self confidence, and making them feel older than they actually are. The many ways our faces change with age can be hard, damaging self image, and making us feel uncomfortable in own skin.

Since aging is something none of us can avoid, it is important to know how our faces change as we age, and some helpful and effective tips you can use to reduce the signs of age in your face.

Before understanding how to keep and maintain a young looking face, it is first essential to understand what causes aging in the face, and what to expect as you get older.

What causes aging of our faces?

The aging process is natural, but there are a handful of factors that can speed up the process, or exaggerate your age. Genetics plays a role, and some genetic code is less adept at fighting off certain signs of aging than others. The aging of the face can be quickened with regular sun damage, stress, or the environment, including pollution in the air.

Overall, aging in the face is mainly influenced by these major factors:

  • Diet

  • Genetics

  • Lifestyle

  • Maintenance and care

  • Occupation

For instance, someone may take care of their skin well, but work a job that results in a lot of wear and tear on the skin, such as a coal miner. This can cause the skin to age quicker.

What happens to our faces as we age?

As we age, 3 universal things happen to our faces:

  • First, our skin sags

  • Second, we lose volume

  • Third, our skin shows wear and tear from intrinsic aging, sun damage, etc.

Let's dive into each of these signs of aging a bit more. 

1. The Skin Sags

The first change noticed as the aging process begins is that our skin starts to sag. We go from having firm and tight skin to having loose and sagging skin, almost as if there is too much skin hanging from various parts of the body. In youth, our faces are firm, with just the right amount of pull, but as we age, the skin starts to loosen. This is because it is no longer supported structurally, causing it to leave the appearance of excess skin sagging around the face and jaw particularly.

Why/How it Happens

As we age, we naturally lose elastin and collagen. These are the fibrous connective tissue elements responsible for maintaining the firmness in our skin and are supportive tissues. As we get older, we lose the amount we have in our body at a rate of approximately 1% per year. In other words, the older we get, the more visible the signs of this loss of collagen and elastin become - resulting in more sagging of the skin.

How It Shows

Sagging skin can cause these features to appear:

  • Sagging cheeks
  • Sagging jawline ("jowls")
  • Sagging neck ("turkey neck")
  • Sagging eyes and eyebrows ("droopy, tired, or baggy eyes")

The Fix: Lift and Tighten

Non-surgical treatments to restore the tone of the face include the liquid facelift and Ultherapy. Both of these treatments for aging faces are non-invasive, safe, and have little to no downtime.

Surgical treatments to firm loose skin include the facelift, necklift, and eyelift. Each of these procedures create a firmer and smoother appearance which can help you look more refreshed, take years off your appearance, and bring back the confidence you once had.

2. We Lose Volume

As we age, we gradually lose volume in the face, going from having a full, “baby faced” appearance when we are young to having a gaunt and hollowed appearance when we are very elderly.

Why/How it Happens

Our tissues including our skin, fat, muscle, and even bones atrophy over time. Tissues that were once plump and full become deflated over time. The result of volume loss is a hollowed, deflated appearance.

How It Shows

Loss of volume can show itself in these ways:

  • Hollow cheeks
  • Hollow eyes and undereyes
  • Lines and folds around the mouth ("nasolabial folds", "marionette lines"
  • Hollow temples
  • Thin lips

The Fix: Restore Lost Volume

Injectable fillers can restore lost volume in your face. With dermal fillers, you can enhance your beautiful facial shape and restore your youthful appearance, even in old age. There is no down time, and you can see the results immediately. Regular injections every year can help maintain results to your satisfaction.

Fat transfer is another option, whereby your body's own fat is used as a filler to restore youthful volume to the face.

3. Our Skin Is Damaged

When we are young, the skin is silky and smooth. As we get older, the skin develops wrinkles and blemishes over time.

Why/How it Happens

The effects of intrinsic aging, sun damage, the environment, and genetics all contribute to the gradual aging of the skin.

How It Shows

The effects of aging on the skin show themselves in many ways:

  • Lines
  • Wrinkles
  • Deep folds
  • Blemishes and discoloration such as sallowness and age spots
  • Various growth
  • Prominent blood vessels
  • Thinning and dryness of the skin

The Fix: Repair and Relax The Skin

There are several fixes to aging skin:

  • Prevention:
    • An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of care.
    • With basic care including a good skin regimen, you can keep your skin healthy and slow down additional damage.
  • Repair:
    • Topical medicines can help repair damaged skin and maintain healthy skin.
    • Skin resurfacing treatments such as laser skin resurfacing, intense pulsed light (IPL) treatment, and chemical peels can repair the skin to erase surface damage and promote new collagen formation.
    • Botox treatments can relax the muscles that cause worry, frown, and smile lines, leading to a smoother, more rested, and younger appearance.


5 Topical Remedies to Reduce Signs of Aging in the Face

There are many topical medicines you can integrate into your basic skin care regimen, each of which will help to naturally repair your skin, bringing your internal beauty to the forefront.

Keep in mind that results don't occur overnight. Topical medicines usually take at least 3 months to meaningfully impact your skin.

Also, remember that prescription strength products are stronger and therefore significantly more effective than over-the-counter products.

1. Retinoids

Retinoids are one of the best anti-aging creams available. When applied topically on a regular basis, retinoids will boost the collagen in your skin.

A retinoid that I especially like is called AlphaRet by Skinbetter Science. AlphaRet combines the power of alpha-hydroxy acid with a retinoid to leave the skin rejuvenated with little to no irritation, which is one of the main problems with Retin-A.

2. Pigment Modulators

Pigment modulators work to reduce blemishes and discoloration of the skin, including brown patches, sun damage, hyperpigmentation, age spots, sun spots, melasma, and other conditions. Hydroquinone 4% is the most commonly prescribed pigment modulators. A popular non-hydroquinone agent is Even Tone Correcting Serum by Skinbetter Science, which combines the action of multiple agents such as arbutin and fruit and flower extracts.

3. Antioxidants

Antioxidants help to prevent a specific type of skin damage called oxidation. Oxidation is a process that occurs from exposure to the sun and pollutants, causing the production of molecules called free radicals that damage our skin.

Antioxidants create healthier, younger skin, while increasing collagen production, improving elasticity, and reducing sun damage.

My favorite anti-oxidants include:

  • SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF
  • SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic
  • Skinbetter Alto Defense Serum


4. Hydrators

Hydration is essential for maintaining the plumpness, firmness, and radiance of the skin. Drinking plenty of water can help. 

So can using a hydrator or moisturizer.

A favorite hydrator that is lasting but not heavy or greasy is:

  • SkinBetter Interfuse Face Treatment cream


5. Exfoliators

Exfoliators remove bacteria and dead cells from the outermost layer of your face. These are products you should use 2-3 times per week so that the pores are opened for other products to deeply penetrate. When used appropriately, exfoliants will keep the skin smoother without being red and blotchy.


3 Non-Surgical Skin Resurfacing Treatments for the Face

Because the idea of surgical procedures to reduce signs of old age in the face may be out of the question for some people, there are still some non-surgical options that are highly effective, and fairly affordable. These treatments have shown long lasting results, helping people to feel and look younger, giving them their youthful confidence and energy back, even in old age.

1. Laser Treatments

Laser treatments are available, from simple, quick treatments with no downtime to very strong treatments that require multiple sessions. They are available from non-ablative to ablative and from superficial to deep. Each of these fixes can remove the appearance of aging on the outer layers of skin and encourage healthy or skin cell growth at the same time.

2. Chemical Peels

Another option for skin resurfacing is a chemical peel, which can range from light to deep. With these treatments you can restore your youthful, beautiful complexion by getting rid of the most damaged outer layers to reveal your healthier looking skin under.

3. Microdermabrasion

When your skin is smooth and clear it will enhance your appearance, and a healthy appearance is essential to feeling your best. Microdermabrasion treatments can help with that, by exfoliating the skin to bring new cells forward, removing old cells. There are also dermabrasions, which use larger crystals, allowing for similar results, but going less deep.

Learn More: Want to learn more about Microdermabrasions vs. Dermabrasions and Laser Treatments? Check out this comprehensive guide that explains the difference between the two.

Tips for Keeping Your Face Young at Any Age

No matter how old you are, the face is always aging with us, and showing signs of that age. As we get older, our bodies and faces take on different compositions as a result of environmental factors, genetics, diet, and lifestyle choices. Knowing how to keep your face looking young at any age can improve your self image, and help boost your self confidence.


Avoid excess sugar, as it causes inflammation and advances the aging process. Overly processed carbohydrates in excess can produce skin discoloration as a result of too much insulin.

Wear sunscreen daily. Don’t just put it on your face in the summer. Regardless of season, your skin is susceptible to sun damage to the connective tissue which can cause sagging, spots, and wrinkles in old age.


Take care to sleep, and sleep well. The body recharges stress hormones and regenerative hormones when you sleep, particularly in the final hour of sleep. Things like cortisol and growth hormone will give your skin strength by way of extra collagen and elastin.

Start gently exfoliating your skin on a regular basis, removing the layer of dead skin cells and reducing the visibility of dullness, sun damage, and wrinkles.


Regular exercise can improve circulation and will do wonders for your complexion. Sitting in a dry infrared sauna for 10 minutes at a time several times per week and exercising heavily or at least 40 minutes at a time will detox your skin of any impurities and subcutaneous fat.

Reduce inflammation in your body by changing your diet and adding supplements as necessary. At this age, inflammation will be one of the most significant contributors to the appearance of unhealthy skin.


At this age, new anti-aging treatments will improve the health of your connective tissue and your skin. CoolSculpting and cryotherapy tricks your body into stimulating a healing response and improving circulation.

60’s and Beyond

At this age, the goal should be to soften the appearance of wrinkles with treatments that target free radicals alongside other environmental aggressors. For the best results, you should also try and do away with internal factors like poor diet and stress.

Cosmetic Surgery as a Solution to an Aging Face

While a natural process, the signs of aging can be heartbreaking, especially when we can look back on our younger selves and compare. As aging is a natural part of your beauty journey, there are steps you can take to reduce the severity of these changes and maintain confidence in your appearance.

Whatever the issue you're facing, wrinkles, crow’s feet, sagging jawlines, prominent blood vessels, or hollow cheeks, there are surgical solutions that can help you regain confidence by putting a youthful glow back in your face.

Aging is universal. We all look in the mirror and catch sight of our skin beginning to sag, our faces losing volume, and our skin accumulating wrinkles and blemishes.

Still, we can age gracefully by taking care of our skin and by repairing our wear and tear.

Do you want to look younger? Have you recently been noticing the toll that age has taken on your skin, and are seeking to look younger? Perhaps cosmetic surgery, or non-surgical procedures may be right for you.

Learning More About Caring for Your Aging Skin 

To learn more about what treatments are right for you, have a look at some of our additional resources that go more in depth about the procedures that help you to fight the signs of an aging face:

If you understand your treatment options, and want to see which is right for you, contact us to speak with an aging specialist. Or, you can also take our self evaluation, in order to find out if a treatment is best for your needs.

Is Cosmetic Treatment Right for You? 

Looking to learn more about your options for cosmetic treatment in order to fight the signs of age on your face? Take our self evaluation to learn more about what treatment may be right for you: 

Wondering if you're a candidate?


About the Author

Dr. Larry Fan is a Harvard educated, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon in San Francisco, CA. He is a Master Artist who is known for creating beautiful, stunning, and natural results. Dr. Fan has been named One of America's Top Plastic Surgeons for the past 10 years running and has received several national awards for his work in Plastic Surgery. He has successfully performed more than 10,000 cosmetic procedures of the face, breasts, and body over a 20 year period. Dr Fan has been an invited speaker at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American College of Surgeons, and has been featured in national media outlets such as CNN, NBC, and ABC.

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