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Ageing Skin Over Time: What to expect at 30, 40, 50

Tagged: Facial Treatments

Date: 12th February 2024

Medically Reviewed by:  Mr. Bryan Mayou (GMC: 1414396)

Last reviewed: 12th February 2024

How Does Your Face Age Over Time?

Ageing is a natural and unavoidable part of life. Although we can’t stop this process, there are a number of surgical and non-surgical treatments available which can combat ageing skin and maintain a youthful appearance. Here, we will look at how the ageing process affects our faces and treatments, which can help keep you looking younger for longer.

How the Signs of Ageing Begin

The signs of ageing skin begin when several factors that can cause the skin to age develop to the point that they begin to have a visible impact on your appearance. 

Collagen is the protein that gives our skin its elasticity and strength. As we get older, our collagen levels drop – we lose 1% of our collagen in our skin each year. This causes the skin to sag and wrinkle. Men can expect this collagen loss to begin later, but ultimately, ageing skin will happen to everyone.  

Subcutaneous fat, fat that is stored just beneath the skin, gives the face a young, healthy ‘plumpness’. From our late 20s, we can expect to begin to lose the subcutaneous fat under our eyes and this will continue throughout the rest of the face to areas such as the cheeks and neck, causing sagging cheeks and jowls, and cause our appearance to age. 

Environmental factors and lifestyle choices can often accelerate the ageing process. Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet, excessive sun exposure, poor sleep and exposure to air pollution will all have an impact on your skin quality and how quickly your skin ages. 

What Are the First Areas of the Face to Show Signs of Premature Ageing?

Premature wrinkles are one of the first signs of prematurely ageing skin. As our collagen levels in our skin deplete, they cause fine lines and wrinkles to appear. Expressive lines, such as crow's feet at the outer corners of the eyes, and laughter lines, which develop around the sides of the mouth, are often the first lines to appear. These are usually closely followed by forehead wrinkles.  

Patches of darker skin, known as hyperpigmentation, sun spots, loss of volume and skin becoming weaker, are all also associated with premature ageing skin. Hyperpigmentation is especially common in darker skin tones due to overactive melanin production caused by stress and trauma to the skin as we age.  

What Are the Visible Signs of Ageing in Your 20s and 30s?

In our 20s, collagen in your skin and subcutaneous fat gives our skin a youthful appearance. It is vital that you take good care of your skin at this age, to prevent ageing skin as we get older. This includes maintaining a good skincare routine including sun protection, avoiding excessive sun exposure and trying to avoid or limit harmful lifestyle choices which may cause damage to the skin. 

In your 30s, fine lines, such as crows feet around the eyes and smile lines around the mouth, may start to appear. Your face will start to lose volume, giving your face a more angular appearance, which can make you look older and more tired and can cause slightly sagging cheeks in your 30s as well as the formation of a slight jowl. Treatments such as dermal fillers can restore a rounder, more youthful appearance to ageing skin. 

Hyperpigmentation, which occurs when patches of skin become darker, can also become a problem for women in this age bracket. Daily sun protection from a broad spectrum sunscreen will help to prevent this and keep hyperpigmentation under control.

What Treatments Are Appropriate for People in Their 20s and 30s?

Dermal fillers are quick injectable treatments that can soften facial wrinkles and lines and fill out hollows to recreate the smooth contours of younger skin. This non-surgical procedure achieving long-term results and can be used to treat a number of issues, including softening nose to mouth lines (naso-labial folds), defining the chin area and enhancing the cheekbones. 

Plump lips and fuller cheeks can also be achieved with the use of dermal fillers. If you’re noticing tired or sunken eyes, tear trough filler is a good treatment to make them appear more open and youthful. 

Another option is anti-wrinkle and line softening injectables, local muscle relaxants that smooth out facial lines and wrinkles by relaxing the underlying facial muscles. These injections are good for reducing the appearance of existing wrinkles and preventing new lines and wrinkles from developing. This treatment is suitable for anyone over the age of 18. 

Morpheus8 is a face and neck treatment that uses combined microneedling and radiofrequency to lift, tighten and tone loose skin naturally without surgery. This non-surgical treatment is suitable for younger patients in their 30s and 40s who are starting to see the first signs of facial ageing. 

For an alternative surgical treatment, the micro facelift is a new and innovative treatment, which has increased in popularity. The ideal procedure for anyone in between the ages of 35 to 50 seeking to reverse the preliminary signs of ageing with a minimally invasive surgical treatment. This surgery can make a patient look up to five years younger and the results last for up to 10 years

What Are the Visible Signs of Ageing in Your 40s and 50s?

In your 40s, your ageing skin can become drier, making lines and wrinkles more pronounced. You continue to lose subcutaneous fat, but not equally from all areas. Fat pads around the cheeks and above the mouth are generally the first to go, followed by fat from around the sides of the mouth, chin and jawline. If your cheeks are looking sagging, hollow or sunken in your 40s, there are a variety of treatments that may help. 

Depleting collagen levels in your skin means the skin loses elasticity, causing it to sag. As you hit your 40s, you may also find that the tip of your nose begins to tilt downwards. If this is the case, it may be worth considering a nose tip suspension

In your 50s, your skin may feel drier and more prone to irritation. You are also likely to develop more age spots or hyperpigmentation. Any sun damage in the deeper layers of the ageing skin, sustained earlier in life, will make itself known. 

The menopause can prompt huge changes to the skin, making it appear dry, thin and saggy, although some women experience breakouts and excess oiliness due to hormonal imbalance. In the UK, the average age for a woman to hit menopause is 51, although symptoms can start in your 40s or even earlier.  

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What Treatments Are Appropriate for People in Their 40s and 50s?

Line softening injectables or a micro facelift are appropriate for people in their 40s who are experiencing early signs of ageing skin. For patients in their 50s who are experiencing more advanced signs of ageing, a mini or mid-face facelift may be a better option. You can see some excellent mini facelift patient outcomes here in our mini facelift before and after gallery

Fat Transfer injections to the face might also be an option and should be considered as an alternative to dermal fillers for those looking for additional volume in the face area but want longer lasting results. 

The next step up from a micro facelift, a mini facelift is the ideal procedure for anyone in their 40s or 50s concerned about sagging skin and visible signs of ageing in the lower face and neck. 

As skin loses its strength and laxity, it can pull down and loosen the skin around the eyes. This, coupled with the loss of subcutaneous fat pockets under the eyes, can exacerbate the appearance of dark circles and hollowed eye sockets, causing a droopy or sunken effect. Surgical blepharoplasty can treat the upper and lower eyelids, creating a more youthful appearance. 

And Beyond: Normal Signs of Ageing at 60

As well as wrinkles and fine lines, volume loss, and pigmentation changes, you might also notice that small growths like skin tags appear and small bruises or cuts take longer to heal. With your skin thinning, your veins under the skin may also be more visible through the surface. This is all a natural part of the ageing process. 

Ageing is a natural process that is inevitable for everyone, although different people will have a variety of experiences. For those who prefer to take more control over their appearance, ageing gracefully with the help of surgical and non-surgical treatments is absolutely an option. 

From the age of 60 onwards and perhaps even beforehand, it is normal to notice skin ageing affecting other parts of your body besides your face. This may include your hands, neck and the area between your collarbone and breasts known as the decolletage. Even with regular sun protection applied to the face from your 20s onwards, these areas are often neglected and yet are equally as exposed everyday, so many people find that their skin also loosens and develops pigmentation here too. 

What Treatments Are Appropriate for People Aged 50-Plus?

A full facelift (rhytidectomy) is recommended for people aged 50-plus where fine lines have developed into more deep set wrinkles. A full facelift is the best treatment for folds and deep wrinkles on the face, but as a result it is a more invasive surgery than the micro and mini facelifts, with a longer recovery time. 

You may also wish to consider a neck lift (lower rhytidectomy) to improve the signs of aging in the neck and jaw, such as jowls or sagging neck skin, also known as ‘turkey neck’. This procedure can be carried out on its own or combined with a facelift for an enhanced result. However, if you're not quite ready to consider surgery yet, there are other options. 

When considering surgical vs non-surgical treatments for the neck, its important you speak to your surgeon about your desired results so they can advise on which option will suit you best. 

If you are concerned about thinning skin on your hands, you may want to consider dermal fillers which will restore plumpness and volume to fragile looking skin. Many patients seek this treatment as they find the thinning skin accentuates the veins, bones, and knuckles in the hand, portraying signs of ageing and sun damage that their facial complexion might not show. 

Do Men's Faces Age Differently to Women’s?

Men also develop wrinkles, jowls, eye bags and age spots, the same as women. Men are also prone to developing longer ears. Typically, men's skin retains collagen in the skin and fat reserves for longer than women's skin. Nevertheless, they still lose skin laxity incrementally over the years, albeit this process tends to start later than in women. 

All the above treatments are suitable for men, including facelifts. In five years, the number of men undergoing facelifts has risen by 45%, with this trend showing no sign of slowing down. However, at the Cadogan Clinic, we employ a slightly different facelift technique for men in order to emphasise more masculine facial features. 

Ageing is a process that we will all experience in different ways and will have a different impact on each of us, physically and emotionally. There are a number of ways of tackling the concerns that come with ageing, and Cadogan Clinic is here to support you on your journey with experienced cosmetic surgeons and dermatologists who can help you to decide on the best options for you.  

Enquire online to speak to one of our care coordinators and arrange your consultation at our cosmetic surgery clinic in Chelsea, London today. 


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