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Study Shows Women Develop More Wrinkles Around the Mouth Than Men

Posted: December 22, 2009

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Several key differences between men and women emerged: women had fewer sweat glands around the mouth than men; women had fewer blood vessels so less blood flow to that region; the muscles around the mouth are closer to the skin than in men, which may pull the skin in tighter, causing wrinkles; and, although the number of hair follicles were about the same in both genders, men had more sweat glands per hair follicle, again contributing to more relaxed skin throughout aging.

Hormones also seem to play a role in women's dermatologic aging process. "A lot of gender differences in health and disease are related to estrogens," said Seth Thaller, MD, chief of plastic surgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. For instance, estrogens promote healing, meaning that women tend to heal from wounds faster. And postmenopausal women have reduced blood flow, again contributing to lines and furrows. And they experience a decrease in the fat (sebum) secreted by sweat glands. Meanwhile, women on hormone replacement therapy have been reported to have fewer wrinkles than those not taking the hormones.

Something the authors did not mention were changes in the bone, which also contribute to more severe aging, said Jessie Cheung, MD, associate director of cosmetic dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. "As you age, your jaw bone actually gets resorbed slowly so the bone shrinks down. That contributes a lot. The skin is going to get saggy because there's no scaffolding holding it up like a tent," she said.

Tissue also gets thinner as people age. Many existing cosmetic procedures, including fat transfers, can remedy some of these changes, Cheung added. "But the best thing anyone can do to keep their skin young is avoid smoking and avoid the sun and keep it moist. Use moisturizers and use skin creams," said Nahai.

"Our findings might stimulate the industry to develop applications which take the differences between men and women into consideration [like the use of specific hormones]," added Kon.