Vertical aging vs. horizontal aging

Next time you look in the mirror, ask yourself if you're aging vertically or horizontally. And if you don't know what that even means, you're not alone. 

Most of us are familiar with terms to describe aging skin, crow's feet, smile lines and dark spots. But have you ever diagnosed whether you're aging vertically or horizontally? 

A Town and Country article titled "Sink or Sag: Are You Aging Vertically or Horizontally?" defines vertical aging as the loss of muscle mass and the drooping or jowling effect caused by gravity; and horizontal aging as fine lines caused by facial expressions and UV damage.

"They do refer to specific and distinct types of aging," Dr. Susan Bard of Manhattan Dermatology Specialists said. "Usually people have both."  

Bard said if you have a specific concern, using these newly coined terms may be a way to pinpoint which aging concern you're referring to when you see your dermatologist. For vertical agers, dermatologists recommend laser therapy and/or facelifts. Botox and filler can improve horizontal aging.  

"Horizontal aging would be just our body becoming bigger but horizontally," said Tatiana Montana, a senior specialist at Age Management and Skin Care.  

But Montana said the beauty industry creates new terms to classify old problems to get you to buy their products.  

"I think these terms were incorporated — if you know biology, and I know biology pretty well — were incorporated just for marketing purposes," Montana said. "It's just the world of beauty. That's how it works."