Are the facial wrinkles, lines and folds that happen with aging result purely from the expressions we make? While skin distortion from facial expressions causes many, if not most, of the wrinkles we see on our faces with age, a new study suggests there’s a wrinkle (ahem) in that line of thinking. It turns out, as many experts in facial aesthetics have long assumed, wrinkles also result from "mechanical distortion" during sleep.
Plastic surgeon and lead author Goesel Anson, M.D., clinical instructor of surgery at the School of Medicine, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and colleagues report in the study published online June 21 in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal that compression, shear and stress force factors result in facial distortion when people sleep on their sides and stomach.
These sleep wrinkles tend to be perpendicular to expression lines and they don’t respond significantly to animation, according to Dr. Anson. Common sleep wrinkles include the lateral oblique forehead crease, radial orbital crease, lateral (vertical) malar crease, medial cheek crease, nasal/lip crease, corner lip crease, oblique marionette crease, preauricular crease and inferior vertical cheek crease, according to the study.
American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery President Daniel C. Mills, M.D., a plastic surgeon in Laguna Beach, Calif., says he has long suggested to patients that some of their facial wrinkles come from sleep positions, especially when patients complain that they have more wrinkles on one side of the face than the other. He’ll ask them how they sleep at night, and often the light goes off in the patient’s mind that, yes, those wrinkles show up on the side of their favorite sleeping position, he says.
“So, these are things that we see on a daily basis, but it’s very nice for the doctors to have written an article about this, quantifying it,” Dr. Mills says.
The researchers not only looked at wrinkles from sleep, but also potential facial skin expansion. Based on available studies, they didn’t find a direct correlation between facial distortion during sleep and skin expansion, Dr. Anson says. However, it’s a logical conclusion to draw from basic science literature and more research needs to be done on the subject matter, she says.