I read an article with interest entitled: “Face-lifts should include bone implants researchers say” by Robin Nixon.1 As a research scientist who studies melatonin's effects on bone development, I wondered if part of melatonin's effects on the aging process could be through its positive effects on bone (including facial bone). Melatonin's free-radical scavenging properties, immune-enhancing properties, and its ability to modulate reproductive hormonal status, have been proposed to contribute to melatonin's positive effects on the aging process.2–4 But, what about melatonin's effects on bone? In numerous studies, melatonin is shown to be an efficacious molecule that both protects and builds bone as reviewed.5–7
After reading an article by Shaw et al,8 whose research shows that facial bone (ie, eye sockets, brows, nose, and upper and lower jaw), shrinks as one ages, contributing to the drooping appearance of the skin, I wondered if melatonin could prevent facial bone shrinkage that occurs with aging, especially as it occurs in middle-aged and elderly people? Melatonin levels decrease with age, and this loss may contribute to postmenopausal osteoporosis.9,10 Nighttime disruption of melatonin levels in shift workers is reported to increase one's risk for hip and wrist fractures.11 Supplementation with melatonin enhances bone formation,12 including enhancing the osteointegration of bone implants.13–17 As such, its clinical utility as a monotherapy or adjuvant therapy to prevent osteoporosis or to build bone in reconstructive surgery is described.5–7,15–18 Perhaps nighttime supplementation of one's diet with melatonin would protect against facial bone deterioration, thus preventing the “aged face.” Other therapeutic implications for melatonin that should be considered is in its utility in maxillofacial reconstructive surgery to restore mandibular bone, replace lost teeth, and/or repair facial defects resulting from chronic antiresorptive therapy or menopause or through the aging process.16,19 In addition to vitamin D/calcium supplementation to maintain good bone health, nighttime supplementation of one's diet with melatonin could be an additional complementary strategy to prevent or delay the aging process on the face, minimizing the need for extensive maxillofacial reconstructive surgery. This should be considered as an alternative cost-savings approach to managing one's health, improving one's quality of life, and lessening healthcare costs in a global sense.