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Facial Bone Density: Effects of Aging and Impact on Facial Rejuvenation

Robert B. Shaw Jr. MD, Evan B. Katzel MD, Peter F. Koltz MD, David M. Kahn MD, Edward J. Puzas PhD, Howard N. Langstein MD
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1090820X12462865 937-942 First published online: 1 November 2012


Background: Facial bone aging has recently been described as primarily resulting from volume loss and morphologic changes to the orbit, midface, and mandible.

Objective: The authors demonstrate how the facial skeleton bone mineral density (BMD) changes with age in both men and women and compare these changes to those of the axial skeleton. They also explore the aesthetic implications of such changes in bone density.

Methods: Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans of the facial bones and lumbar spine were obtained from 60 white subjects, 30 women and 30 men. There were 10 men and 10 women in each of 3 age categories: young (20-40 years), middle (41-60 years), and old (61+ years). The following measurements were obtained: lumbar spine BMD (average BMD of L1-L4 vertebrae), maxilla BMD (the average BMD of the right and left maxilla), and mandible BMD (the average BMD of the right and left mandibular ramus).

Results: The lumbar spine BMD decreased significantly for both sexes between the middle and old age groups. There was a significant decrease in the maxilla and mandible BMD for both sexes between the young and middle age groups.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that the BMD of the face changes with age, similar to the axial skeleton. This change in BMD may contribute to the appearance of the aging face and potentially affect facial rejuvenation procedures.

  • facial aging
  • facial bones
  • bone density
  • face
  • facial surgery
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