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Beware of "Runner's Face"

Sep 04, 2013 12:19PM ● Published by Arden Haley

For many of us, running is our exercise of choice. You don’t need special equipment, you don’t need to drive to the gym—you only need to go out the door. Running is empowering, liberating, and invigorating. As the ultimate stress eraser, it is, figuratively if not literally, a way to leave the world behind. We run to feel better and look better. Well one out of two isn’t bad.

Cosmetic surgeons and dermatologists are seeing an increase in women requesting solutions to what’s been dubbed “Runner’s Face.” The problem is most pronounced in women (and men) over 40 who are serious runners. (Those who run in and frequently train for marathons would be classic examples.)

We naturally lose fat in our faces as we age. The situation is exacerbated when you factor in running’s ability to melt away fat at a faster rate. Fast fat loss from the face can make you look gaunt. Pavement pounding also takes its toll on the elasticity of the skin—already jeopardized by the aging process. Add exposure to the elements and you’ve got a perfect storm for signs of premature aging. (Want an example of runner’s face: Think Madonna or Matthew McConaughey; or most Olympic long-distance runners.)

Dr. Brian S. Glatt, a board-certified plastic surgeon in New Jersey, coined the term on MSNBC in October 2011 and got a lot of flack at the time. Dr. Glatt never suggested that people stop running (nor do we). He did suggest treatments such as a Botox-Restylane (or other injectable filler) combo, which can smooth the wrinkles and plump those hollow cheeks.

A healthy diet and avoiding rapid weight loss after a certain age are also recommended. Wearing a hat and lathering up with a sweat-resistant sunblock are also good ideas. And forget traversing the brick covered streets of our charming local cities. Scout out some softer terrain to minimize that jarring effect. —S.H.

Illustration by Daniel Velasco / Savannah College of Art and Design

The Look, Today health running runners face exercise
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