Growing old: Do women and men age differently?

Olivia A.M. Smith, Christian Duncan, Nick Pears, Antonio Profico, Paul O'Higgins*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aging of the head and especially the face has been studied intensively, yet questions remain about the timing and rates of aging throughout adulthood and about the extent to which aging differs between men and women. Here we address these issues by developing statistical models of craniofacial aging to describe and compare aging through the life course in both sexes. We selected cranial surface meshes from 254 females and 252 males, aged from 20 to 90 years from the Headspace project, Liverpool, UK. Sixteen anatomical landmarks and 59 semilandmarks on curves and surfaces were used to parameterize these. Modes and degrees of aging throughout adulthood were assessed and compared among sexes using Procrustes-based geometric morphometric methods. Regression analyses of form through the whole age range indicate that age accounts for a small proportion of total variance in both sexes, but form is significantly related to age and males and females age in significantly different ways. Further analyses indicate that aging differs in character, timing, and rates in both sexes between early and later phases of adulthood. Sexual differences in aging are evident in the early and later phases of adulthood. The study adds to knowledge of the aging of adult craniofacial form and sexual dimorphism. It is based on a local population and so the findings are directly applicable to that population. Further studies are needed to assess generalizability and provide better data on population differences to facilitate clinical assessment and treatment planning.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalAnatomical Record
Early online date17 Jan 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Jan 2021

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© 2021 American Association for Anatomy. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details


  • facial aging
  • morphometrics
  • sexual differences
  • surface scanning

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