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What happens if we thoroughly analyze human facial skin?

Characteristic internal structure of the face contributes significantly to the face aging factor = sagging

IFSCC Congress 2014, Paris Congress Award (Poster Award)

Elucidating the Aging Mechanism in Face Shape

What’s new?

Clarification of the internal structure of facial skin, which had not been well known before, led to the discovery of the cause of sagging which makes the face look aged!

Sagging skin becomes more apparent with age, causing concerns over the loosening of the face line, drooping in the corners of the eyes, and deepening smile lines. In recent years, sagging has been regarded as a major problem in women’s skin along with pigmentation and wrinkles. Why then does the skin sag with age? Little is known at present regarding the factors that contribute to sagging. Although research in human body skin is plentiful, the internal structure of facial skin had not been well known as facial skin was very difficult to obtain for research purposes, and the skin on other body parts, such as arms, was generally used.

In this award-winning research conducted jointly with St. Marianna University School of Medicine and the National Cancer Centre, the cause of sagging was elucidated by actually studying the skin of the human face leading to the discovery of its unique structure. Up to now, skin structure was broadly divided into three relatively smooth layers of the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous fat. However, facial skin was found to contain protruding structures underneath the dermis.

Body skin Facial skin

What causes skin sagging?

Protruding structures of vertical fibers play an important role in supporting facial skin! Aging causes these structures to slacken, thereby weakening skin support and resulting in sagging

A detailed analysis of these protruding structures found that collagen and elastin fibers in the face skin are aligned vertically, whereas in normal dermis, these fibers are spread horizontally. This suggests that the protruding structures are responsible for holding the skin in place through vertical elasticity. This structure was named an “anchor,” after the anchor for a ship, because of its characteristic shape and role.

Furthermore, comparison of the anchors between people in their 20s and 70s revealed that anchors decreased in the latter. The implication was that the cells that form anchors reduced with age, which then results in the loss of anchors, eventually causing the sagging that we see.

Visualization of the inside of structure

We plan to utilize the findings on the characteristics of the facial skin structure and sagging mechanism in developing solutions and new skin care cosmetics.