Your patients’ faces may be giving away their age, and it has nothing to do with wrinkles, sagging skin, or droopy eyelids. A study published in the January issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery reports that as we age, the lower jaw continues to grow, creating a more square jaw line, ultimately making patients appear older.

“The shape of the lower jaw plays an important role in the perception of youth and can be a tell-tale sign of someone’s age,” says Joel Pessa, MD, ASPS member surgeon and study co-author. “Across the board in many cultures, the smaller and more curved a man or woman’s jaw line, the younger looking they appear.”

The authors studied radiographic images of 16 patients (eight men and eight women) taken at youth (mean age 16 years old) and maturity (mean age 56 years old). They discovered the lower jaw in men and women continued to grow with age, creating a larger, squarer jaw line.

According to the study, soft-tissue procedures, such as a facelift, can create the illusion of a smaller lower jaw and may enhance a more youthful appearance.

[ASPS, January 9, 2008]