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Skin, Muscles, and the In-Between: How to Treat Each Layer of Your Face

In some ways, we can think of our skin like clothing in that sometimes it’s clean and neat, and sometimes it’s wrinkled. We care for the outer layer of our faces, cleaning, and moisturizing, and then we hope for the best.

What we don’t realize is that the face we see in the mirror is the result of several distinct layers of skin, fat, and muscle. And cleaning and moisturizing, while important, only works on the outermost layer. But your plastic surgeon can offer you treatments that can support and enhance all of the other layers of the face.

To better understand, let’s take a look at each layer of the face to examine which cosmetic treatments work best to bring out your beauty. 

Your Visible Face – the Epidermis

The outermost layers of your skin are known as the epidermis.  It’s what you see in the mirror and where wrinkles, blemishes, moles, etc form. When you use lotion, you moisturize this layer of your face. It’s also treatable with lighter chemical peels and laser treatments as well as facials. If the layers underneath are healthy, these treatments can produce excellent results.

The Next Layer Down – the Dermis

Your skin gets its youthful fullness from molecules that exist in the next layer down, called the dermis.  Here, you’ll find compounds such as collagen and elastin. Your body naturally produces less of these as you age. Without these, your skin may shrink and wrinkle like a used water balloon. Injectable fillers like Juvederm and Dysport work in this layer by adding lost volume to fill in wrinkles. The dermis is also where deeper laser treatments, stronger chemical peels, and microneedling procedures like Fractora and PRP all work to stimulate collagen growth. 

The Deepest Layer of Skin -the Hypodermis

Also called the subcutaneous layer, the hypodermis consists mainly of fat and nerves. When it comes to the face, fat is our friend. It helps to give the skin it’s fullness. Take too much of it away, and wrinkles and hollow areas appear. Facelifts sometimes reshape this layer allowing hanging fat and excess skin to be trimmed. The hypodermis is also where skilled surgeons will occasionally inject transferred fat from other parts of the body to naturally and subtly increase volume and fill in wrinkles.

Below the Skin – the Facial Muscles

And yes, of course, our faces also contain muscle. How else could we make so many different expressions?  Botox, best known for its ability to treat forehead wrinkles, is injected into this level.  It works by temporarily blocking the nerve signals to the facial muscles.  By injecting precise amounts into exact locations, your plastic surgeon can use Botox to prevent the face from forming wrinkles. Facelifts can also alter the facial muscles. For instance, the facial muscles and the connective tissue can be tightened to reduce sagging and restore a youthful shape to areas of the face such as the cheeks and around the eyes.

As you can see, there’s a lot more to your face than meets the mirror. Many distinct layers contribute to your overall appearance. To learn how to best care for all of them, contact the expert staff at HKB Plastic Surgery at (704) 659-9000.