Oct. 4, 2011 at 4:49 PM ET
Runners, beware. A New Jersey cosmetic surgeon has pinpointed something more nefarious than shin splints, stress fractures and even dead butt syndrome: "runner's face."
This is what Dr. Brian S. Glatt, a board-certified plastic surgeon in New Jersey, calls that skinny, Skeletor-esque look some dedicated runners may unwittingly develop, as they're likely distracted with all the miles they have to cover to prepare for their next race. Glatt describes the horrors thusly, in a press release issued today:
Runner’s face generally occurs in both men and women ages 40+ who exercise to improve their body, and in doing so end up with a skeletal and bony face. When exercising, an athlete burns off fat beneath the layers of his/her skin. The marked loss of fatty tissue results in a loss of volume which leads to a prominent appearance of the bones, accelerated development of skin laxity and deepening of wrinkles. Though you may look like a 20-year-old from the neck down—your face will easily give away your age.
Full disclosure: I ran my first marathon in June, and I definitely did get that hollow-cheek look described in the release. (Although I'm 26, not 40-plus.) So Glatt kind of has a point, allows Dr. Tony Youn, a Michigan-based cosmetic surgeon and frequent contributor to msnbc.com.
"The general idea is that the leaner we are, the less fat we have in our face," says Youn. "One of the signs of facial aging is loss of facial volume. So losing weight or becoming very lean (like many runners are) can cause the face to look older."
"Runners face" is a cutesy, catchy term, but Youn points out this idea could apply to anyone who is thin for a variety of reasons -- playing a lot of sports, excessive dieting or anorexia, or genetics. And, Youn helpfully points out, rigorous exercise isn't the only thing contributing to aging -- sun damage does a fine job of that on its own.
Glatt suggests a Botox-Restylane (or other injectable filler) combo, which will smooth wrinkles and plump that gaunt face right back up. Youn says the treatments in Glatt's anti-runners face arsenal would certainly work.
"That being said, I've never told someone to stop running so they could look younger," Youn says. "That's just silly."
What say you, readers? Is the old adage true -- do you really have to choose between your bum and your face? And, if that's true -- which would you choose? A fit, fierce body, or a youthful face?