Why do so many black adults continue to look youthful as they age?
A new study says it's in their bones.
Researchers found that the facial bones of black adults retain a higher mineral content than those other races, which makes their faces less likely to reflect their advancing years.
The new study is the first to document how facial bones change as black adults age, and may help guide plastic surgeons' work.
"It is important for plastic surgeons to understand how the facial aging process differs among racial and ethnic groups to provide the best treatment," said study author Dr. Boris Paskhover. He is an assistant professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, in Newark.
For the study, his team looked at medical records of 20 black adults from 1973 and 2017. The study patients had at least two face scans taken 10 years apart.
Although all of the faces changed over time, they showed only minor changes, compared to similar studies on the aging white population.
"This finding reflects other studies that show black adults have higher bone mineral density, decreased rates of bone loss and lower rates of osteoporosis as compared to the general population," Paskhover said in a university news release.
Facial aging results from a combination of changes to the skin, muscle, fat and bones.
As people age, the loss of mineral density causes bone loss. Bone loss can affect the shape of the nose, lower jowl area, cheekbones, and middle and lower areas of the eye sockets, the researchers explained.
"As bones change, they affect the soft tissue around them, resulting in perceived decreases in facial volume," Paskhover said. "Treatment should consider the underlying bone structure."
The report was published online recently in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery.
Harvard Medical School has more about facial aging.