Summary: Wrinkles creep up on us over time. One day we look in the mirror and realize, suddenly, that this crease or that crease is deeper and we look a little older (sometimes even a lot older). But where do wrinkles come from? And do they actually make it harder to smile, or frown, or scowl? Some new research is suggesting that some facial expressions do indeed become more laborious as we grow older.

minimization of scars

Wrinkles Over Time

When you stop to think about it, wrinkles are kind of an odd thing. We have a pretty good idea of what causes them—muscles tensing up or relaxing, the skin losing elasticity, and so on. But a new study published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery—Global Open sought to determine if those wrinkles are in any way related to strain of certain facial movements, and whether that strain increases over time.

Does it Get Harder to Smile?

This seems like a pretty ambitious project. But it’s starting off small. The study itself used only a 13 adult volunteers, which is a pretty small sample size, but those volunteers ranged in age from 18 to 70. To a certain extent, age was more important than sample size because the researchers were really looking to determine if certain facial expressions became more taxing with age. That is: does it get harder to smile as you get older?

The research seemed to indicate this was true of some facial expressions. Smiling, it turned out, did not increase strain in soft tissue areas as the subjects grew in age—so it seems that smiling is as easy (or difficult) as it will ever be.

Technology and Cosmetics

Certainly, Los Angeles cosmetic surgery fans, in what could arguably be called the mecca of cosmetic surgery, have noticed an increase in the reliance on technology in various settings. And this is certainly true of with this study as well, which utilized 3D imaging technologies originally developed to test the fatigue of metals under duress.

Strain as we Age

And while this reliance on technology may seem frivolous, it may give us insights into future practice. For example, the study noted that there are several facial soft tissue areas that show increased strain as we age. It makes sense, then, to use this information in developing targets for treatments such as Botox or dermal fillers. To have a more youthful—yet natural—looking face, cosmetic surgeons spend a lot of time determining which wrinkles to eliminate or fill.

A Roadmap to Treatments

This study may, in time, provide a road map for such treatments. In turn, this could lead to more natural-looking results from treatments such as Botox. Conversely, this study—or others like it—could have completely unforeseen benefits somewhere down the road, especially with the modern surge in nonsurgical techniques. This kind of 3D mapping could ultimately provide a roadmap to aging—and how to fight it.

In the mean time, if you’re looking to fight aging, you’ll have to rely on something like Botox or a dermal filler. And there’s no better roadmap (or navigator) for those procedures than your cosmetic surgeon—talk to one today.