Age-Related Changes of the Craniofacial Skeleton: An Anthropometric and Histologic Analysis


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Abstract

With the development of increasingly sophisticated methods for the alteration of bony facial form consequent to age, it is imperative that the surgeon have a fundamental knowledge of the age-related changes the skeleton may undergo. To understand these changes better, a detailed anthropometric and histomorphic analysis of the craniofacial skeleton as a function of age was undertaken.The study consisted of a detailed craniometric analysis of 160 skulls selected randomly from a Caucasian population of skeletal remains totaling 1500 specimens. Additionally, a histologic analysis of the supraorbital ridge in a separate preserved cadaver population was performed.Although the results showed individual variation as expected, definite changes in craniofacial morphology were observed. These included (1) appreciable reduction of facial height, most marked in the maxilla and mandible, and strongly correlated with loss of teeth, (2) modest increase in facial width, (3) modest increase in facial depth, except in those regions associated with tooth loss, and (4) general coarsening of bony prominences. Histomorphic analysis demonstrated increasing porosity with age, more marked in the female population.Although these changes represent population trends, in any given patient, any or all of them may be present to varying degrees. Surgeons should be aware of these possibilities and consider selective alterations of the skeletal foundation, either separately or in concert with the overlying soft-tissue envelope, in order to optimize the results of surgery for the aging face. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 90: 592, 1992.)

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