Will You Inherit Your Mother’s Face?

Marie Claire – October 1995

It is frequently true, according to an associate professor of plastic surgery at New York University, that if you want to know what a woman is going to look like as she grows older, look at her mother. Nature and nurture combine to determine how you will age.

“High cheekbones and strong jaws and chins give fat and muscle, which slacken with age, a better foundation to hold onto,” explains Dr. William Binder, a Los Angeles facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon.

The color and quality of your skin, also hereditary, is another predictor. As a rule, dark skin ages better than fair skin, which more often develops brown spots and deep wrinkles from sun damage. Thicker, oilier skin ages better than thinner, drier skin. Facial expressions often cause mothers and daughters to wrinkle in the same places. Lifestyle factors also influence aging, which include sun, stress, weight gain and loss, and smoking. Furrows and frown lines begin to show up as permanent wrinkles after age 40. Furrows can be plumped with injections of your own body fat, or filled with collagen injections. Frown lines are best treated with tiny injections of botulinum toxin (Botox)which paralyzes frowning muscles. For more long-term results, doctors recommend removing the outer layers of skin with laser resurfacing. Jowls and double chins are both hereditary and can be prevented through weight maintenance and skin care. Jowls can be corrected with a face lift, and double chins can easily be fixed with liposuction. Neck lines and wrinkles are usually caused by damage from sun exposure, most often to fair, thin-skinned people and those with weak jawlines and chins.

“If you have a weak chin, you can get a chin implant,” suggests Dr. Binder. An implant of silicone elastomer inserted through an incision in the mouth augments the chin and jawline. “You may still get a little ‘turkey gobbler’ as you get older,” Dr. Binder says, “but it certainly won’t be as severe.”

Chin implants cost about $1,200. Laserbrasion or a chemical peel can remove lines and tighten skin, though the best solution may be a neck lift, costing about $4,300. Age and sun spots are due to sun and can be removed with laser resurfacing or with a chemical peel. Regardless of how your mother or grandmother has aged, it is important to remember that a few lines won’t make you old or unattractive.