With Washboard Abs Can Come a Hollowed Face: Can Exercise Age You?


We all know that yoga, weight-training, and other forms of exercise are extremely beneficial to physical and mental health – not to mention key in achieving and maintaining a toned, sculpted physique. But what if working towards the body of your dreams is making your face age faster?

As you get older, do you have to choose between your body and your face? At some point or another, actresses such as Jane Fonda, Catherine Deneuve, and Courteney Cox have said so, but the true answer may be a lot more nuanced than that.

When it comes to fat, the face is often said to look more youthful when it is “plump”, while the “ideal” aesthetic to many of us tends to be on the leaner side. As we get older, it can become much more challenging to achieve and maintain both simultaneously: the body accumulates more (stubborn) fat stores as we go through the stages of puberty, pregnancy and childbirth, and menopause, yet the face begins to hollow out and lose volume from diminished production of collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid (HA).

For most of us, fat loss is a sign that the exercise regimens we put ourselves through are doing their job and keeping our bodies youthfully fit. But often, exercise-induced fat loss that occurs too quickly can exacerbate the hollowing and sagging of the face. Dr. Deborah Spey, a board-certified dermatologist at Advanced Dermatology & Skin Care in New Jersey, says many patients complain that their faces look fatigued and older than they feel – particularly if they are in their 40s or older and lead very active lives.

young face.jpg

A young person typically has plumper cheeks that taper down toward the jawline, forming a V or inverted triangle shape. The degree of this shape can vary from person to person, of course, but it is clearest in our youth. As we age, the fat pads in our cheeks start to descend and our face flattens to resemble a squarer shape. Ultimately, the face becomes an upside-down V or upright triangle – this is characterized by jowl formation from the fat pads sagging down even further.

Dr. Spey explains that while a healthy amount of exercise is a good thing, it needs to be complemented with enough rest, a nutritious diet, and an individualized, comprehensive skin care plan so that both your face and body can look and feel their best.

Besides making healthy lifestyle adjustments, a particularly effective way to counteract a gaunt face is through the strategic application of fillers. Dr. Spey typically uses a thicker, longer-lasting filler such as Juvederm Voluma® for her New Jersey patients. Voluma® is a filler made of cross-linked hyaluronic acid, a gel formulation that is chemically like the HA naturally found in our bodies.

Approved by the FDA to treat age-related volume loss in the midface, Voluma® provides fullness with its thicker gel formulation, while also stimulating the body’s natural collagen production . The increased fullness from well-placed Voluma® injections can essentially “flip” the upright triangle of the face back into an inverted, youthful one, making friends or other casual observers think a patient looks fresher and healthier, usually without knowing they have “had work done.”

“Friends think you’ve gotten a new haircut, lost weight, or somehow magically become younger. Our patients love Voluma® and it’s the only cosmetic procedure they will tell their friends they’ve had,” says Kathy Ortiz, Advanced Dermatology’s skin care consultant.

According to its manufacturer, results from Voluma® can last for up to two years. Voluma is safe and FDA-approved.

If you’d like to learn more about Voluma or other measures to keep your skin looking fresh over time, you can request a consultation with Dr. Spey or her colleague Dr. Rachael Hartman online  or by phone at (973) 731-9600.