Weight loss can sometimes be a double-edged sword – either your figure or your face is going to be affected by it.
The aging process is, of course, the primary cause of normal facial fat loss (together with resorption of the underlying bone and muscle as well). But there’s always concern that if you pare down the body too much, the quid pro quo is that you may acquire the turkey neck and sunken cheekbones of a wizened old crone faster than you should.
This is especially the case in those over 40 years, whose poor skin elasticity may not allow their skin to spring back after rapid downsizing.
So how does one choose between keeping the over-stuffed hips or gracefully aging cheeks? While you can’t selectively lose weight in any one part of the body, you can reduce the years-piling and heart-sinking impact on your visage as you shed the extra pounds off the rest of your body. Here are the rules:
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A common reason why some people lose too much volume and definition in their faces is that they don’t slim down slowly.
Crash weight loss will result in loose sagging skin when the overstretched facial ligaments are unable to recover in time before the supportive padding from fatty tissues is gone. In fact, extreme dieting was found to be up there with divorce, depression, sunbathing, smoking and drinking as a major factor in making women (and men) look older.
“Losing excess weight is important to control associated health risks and remains a rejuvenating experience for your body and mind for most of us. But dumping 20lbs or more within a short time span can accelerate fat loss in the deep parts and storage compartments of the cheeks, making one look gaunt,” explains Dr Michelle Lim, from The Sloane Clinic.
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You’ll feel and look younger when you drop a dress size so long as you are sensible in your approach. Make sure whatever diet you choose is based on balanced nutrition and brings about a sustainable change to your lifestyle.
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In the quest to have both a fit bod and a firm face, more women and men are turning to injectables in the form of hyaluronic acid fillers or collagen stimulators to restore the supple plumpness in the right spots for a lifted contour and smooth skin. The keyword here is “the right spots” – since blindly over-inflating the entire face into a frighteningly puffy ‘pillow face’ spotted in celebrity gossip magazines isn’t exactly a good look either.
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The latest face-plumping trend made popular by impossibly radiant, baby-faced K-Pop stars is autologous fat transfer. This for those who are troubled by stubborn fat pockets (e.g. in the tummy or hips) that are resistant to their weight loss efforts, but are suffering unwanted fat loss in their faces (and boobs). In other words, plastic surgeons are injecting your fanny into your face. How’s that for irony?
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PRESERVE YOUR SKIN QUALITY
Poor nutrition with crash dieting will also play havoc with the skin tone and make you look more haggard and drawn. Add in any of the other triple threats like stress, smoking and sun – there is no doubt your face will age more quickly.
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Load up your grocery basket with these anti-aging goodies to fight skin laxity:
– Stock up on orange-skinned fruits and vegetables: Beta-carotene in foods like sweet potatoes, carrots and red bell peppers is converted to natural vitamin A in the body, which helps cellular renewal and keep skin looking smooth.
– Eat plenty of omega-3 fatty acids: Oily fish like salmon, and nuts & seeds like walnuts have been shown to reduce chronic inflammation that causes loss of skin firmness and wrinkles at the cellular level, and offers protective benefits for your cardiovascular health too.
– Pick your berries: Blackberries, blueberries, blackcurrants, strawberries… with many berries counting as superfruits, it’s difficult to go wrong. Packed with antioxidants and vitamin C, they are powerful free radical-scavengers, skin-healers and health-boosters.
– Go raw: Oysters are a great whole-food source of zinc, which helps repair skin, support collagen regeneration and soothe skin inflammation.
External help in the form of laser treatments are effective for a non-surgical anti-gravity lift as well. “Lunchtime treatments like the Light Lift and Thermage are very popular as they energizes your own skin cells to improve and maintain the bouncy firmness and texture, reversing the tick-tock without any downtime,” says Dr Lim.
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DON’T BE OVERLY RESTRICTIVE
Your body can respond negatively when too much fats and carbohydrates are eliminated from your diet.
Very restrictive diets tend to cause significant loss of muscle mass along with fat loss, as the body mobilizes protein stores for energy. The loss of muscle volume and tone causes overlying skin to appear more saggy and sad.
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MAINTAIN GOOD MUSCLE TONE
Exercises to strengthen and firm the muscular structure can help to add definition to your face as you lose weight (or age).
Perform these face toning exercises three times daily for best results:
– Cheek Puffs: This works on the muscles of your cheeks. Start by taking a deep breath and puffing out your cheeks with the air. Hold the air in both your cheeks while clenching your lips together tightly for five seconds before releasing. Next, take another deep breath and hold the air in your left cheek for a moment before switching it over to the opposite cheek. Do 10 repetitions of this set of exercise.
– Lip Clench: Place a flat ice-cream stick or tongue scrapper between your lips. While using only your lips for balance, hold the stick straight from your mouth. Ohio State University Medical Center recommends holding the stick in this position for a period of one minute, or as long as you possibly can to strengthen muscles around your mouth and cheeks.
– Baby Bird: This Baby Bird exercise, a yoga facial move, helps prevent the formation of jowls and tones the muscles along the neck for a more defined jawline, according to an article on the Time magazine. Tilt your head up towards the ceiling and to the left while pressing your tongue firmly against the roof of your mouth and keeping your jaw shut. Swallow and hold for five to ten seconds, feeling the stretch in your right jaw and neck muscles. Repeat on by looking up and to the right. Continue alternating sides until you have completed five repetitions on each side.
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LIFT SURPLUS SKIN
If losing your baby fat on your face has led you to looking gaunt, take uplifting steps to fix this with skin firming techniques.
Target with Thread Lifts: Targeted face thread lifts such as Infinity Thread Lift are designed not only to lift saggy skin, they also help to contour and shape the lower face, reinforcing a more attractive V-shape face.
Overall Firm with Thermage: Thermage is an unique radio frequency treatment to smoothen and firm overall face and neck, tightening tired skin, and boosting collagen growth. Its excellent for an all-over facial rejuvenation. The great thing about Thermage is that they come in two innovative options: facial tightening, and Body tightening. The latter is useful for areas of body skin that may have weakened or sagged with age, and particularly useful over areas of cellulite.
– By Emily Wong