Are You To Thin?
December 11, 2012 by RobZ
A new study shows being thin can make you look older later in life.
Second helpings on dessert might seem like the sweetest way to celebrate new research that says being thin ages us more than anything else.
Sadly, you can’t have your cake and eat it, too: While the research does note that thinness makes the face appear older, this holds true only for women over 40, says lead study author Dr. Bahman Guyuron.
“For those younger than 40, it’s the other way around,” says Guyuron, chairman of the department of surgery at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine in Cleveland.
“For women under 40, gaining weight obscures the facial definition that is inherent in a younger woman.”
The study, the first of its kind, to be published in the April issue of the Plastic and Reconstructive Journal, focused on a variety of factors that can make people look older.
A thin face is the lead culprit because being slender causes a loss of volume in the face, Guyuron says.
“This loss of volume creates jowls and makes wrinkles develop,” he says. “The older we get, the more the face gets depleted. When you lose weight, this look is enhanced and aging is accelerated.
In older women, having a little weight on board makes the face look a little younger.” Facial shape actually changes with age, says plastic surgeon Dr. Jacob Steiger of Boca Raton, Florida.
In the late 20s and early 30s, a woman’s facial shape is a heart or inverted triangle but with age, it becomes a square or an upright rectangle. To keep that younger looking shape, many women opt for a procedure to fill out the face with injections of Restylane, Juvederm, or a similar product.
“But to tell a patient to gain weight to look younger is silly,” Steiger says. “The study just shows that a full face looks younger than a gaunt face, and it illustrates the importance of volume when women are thinking about facial rejuvenation.”
Being thin isn’t the only factor in whether your face looks aged or not, according to the study, which looked at nearly 200 pairs of identical twins over the course of two years.
Since the twins’ genetic makeup was the same, researchers were able to attribute the differences in how old they looked not to their gene pool, but to external factors. And the researchers found that, in addition to thinness, smoking, heavy drinking, sun exposure, being divorced and being on antidepressants also are to blame.
“We also have discovered that indoor jobs, since your sun exposure is limited, help you look younger,” says Guyuron. “Having an outdoor job makes you look older.” For women who want to look younger but don’t want to shell out money on plastic surgery, there are other things to try.
“From the standpoint of preventive measures, not smoking and staying out of the sun are the two biggest things you can do for yourself,” Steiger says.
“Gaining weight is not advisable. When you gain weight, you gain it everywhere. It’s kind of like hair: as you get older you grow it where you don’t want it and lose it where you don’t want to lose it.”
The main message Guyuron wants people to take away from the study?
“Even though being really thin is perhaps in vogue, we are not advocating that you lose too much weight because even though your body may look thin, your face will look older,” he says.
“Try to keep your weight around the ideal range and if you do that, you’ll look younger than if you lose a lot of weight.”