Face or Body? A Difficult Choice

A French actress by then name of Catherine Deneuve once said that above the age of 30, a woman has to choose between her face or derrière.

REACH a certain age and there comes a tipping point with weight loss that begins to make you wonder if it’s all worthwhile.

Begin to work out more and particularly in ‘cardio’ exercises and you’ll see the fat melt away from your ‘love handles’, but also from the place that you least want to lose any plumpness: your face. And face volume loss is one of the cardinal features of an aging face.

As your body looks more youthful and toned, you may pay the price of drawn features, sunken cheeks and hollow eyes. It’s a phenomenon familiar to women and men, some of whom will switch the ratio of their fitness regimen to avoid it.

Throwing yourself into triathlons, cycling and ultra-endurance challenges can backfire when you look in the mirror, and the realization of that has led to a sharp rise in people seeking treatment for what some people are calling “gym face”.

As a cosmetic Doctor, I look after people’s skin every day. And about 30% of the patients I see are men. Many of my patients are very fit and active. Sometimes elite level athletes and body builders. They may have Olympian bodies, but sometimes faces of an older man or lady. Almost universally, they have volume loss in the face cause by exercise related fat loss.

Fat is not always your enemy. We all need a little in the face to keep the contours and shape of a healthy youthful face. To look at an extreme, when we look at children and adolescents, that feature is often more prominent. They may even have the ‘puppy fat’ of youth.

At Star Cosmetic Medicine, a practitioner can use several non invasive ways to restore the balance. The most popular are dermal fillers designed to fill any deep crevices in the skin and increase lost volume, used alongside wrinkle injections to iron out the wrinkles that accompany facial fat loss.

Many who choose to go under the needle share a new-found love of extreme fitness. Endurance activities are the main culprit, partly because they cause dramatic weight loss but also inflict the prolonged wear and tear that exacerbates a drop in skin’s youthful plumpness.

“It’s something that has become common in people who cardio or run a lot,” says Macie, cosmetic practitioner at Star Cosmetic Medicine in Pyrmont “I see men and women exercisers mainly for facial-volume loss, particularly in the cheek and under eye area. When you try to keep body fat low there’s an unfortunate trade-off … it’s that the face will invariably suffer.”

Rebecca (not her real name), 37 is a personal trainer. Very fit and active mother of two. “I love my work and I love helping people reach their fitness goals’,” she says. But she had noticed the hollowing beneath the eyes- an area known as the ‘tear trough’. We all develop this as an age related change, but exercise exacerbates this. After having 1 ml of a dermal filler carefully placed in the right area she is over the moon.

Do not stop going to the gym of course. As a doctor, I will be the first person to say how important it is for your cardiovascular system, your skeletal system and even your mental health and stress levels.

But choosing between you face or derrière? Why not have both?

Dr Maz