If you suspect that you have an asymmetrical face, you may have a few questions: Is it really asymmetrical? How asymmetrical is it? And most importantly, is this normal? You can probably breathe a sigh of relief: Research shows that facial asymmetry does tend to increase as we get older — but only in a small amount.
An October 2018 study published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery analyzed detailed scans of the facial surface in 191 volunteers, who ranged in age from four months to 88 years. Researchers used those scans to calculate a "root mean square deviation" (RMSD) — a way to measure the asymmetry between the two sides of each face. Results showed a subtle aging-related increase in facial asymmetry across the whole face, but the changes were most significant in the lower two-thirds — from the eyebrows to nose and from the nose to chin — when compared to the upper third of the face.
"This finding suggests that the middle and lower features contribute more to overall asymmetry over time," said lead researcher Helena O.B. Taylor, PhD, in a press release.
So how subtle was this increase in asymmetry, exactly? Researchers said the RMSD measurements showed a predictable increase by 0.06 mm for each decade of life. To put this number in perspective: RMSD calculations across all age groups clustered somewhere between 0.4 and 1.3 mm. So, even though the asymmetry increase is easy to detect through scans, it truly is a tiny amount.
The underlying mechanism of these age-related changes is still up for debate, but it's comforting to know that we're not imagining things if we notice our face is looking a little less symmetrical than it did when we were 20. It's also important to keep in mind that some degree of asymmetry is said to be inherent in the human face.
That said, if you're unhappy with the overall look of your face when you get older, you do have options — and plastic surgery isn't the only one. Check out the best facial exercises for women over 40 that can help you look younger in a matter of just 20 weeks. And remember: You're as young as you feel!