Skip to Content

Does hypothyroidism make you look older?

Hypothyroidism, also known as underactive thyroid, is a common condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormone regulates many aspects of metabolism, so not having enough can lead to widespread effects in the body. One noticeable effect for some people with hypothyroidism is an older appearance, especially in the face. Let’s take a closer look at why this happens and what can be done about it.

How hypothyroidism affects physical appearance

There are several ways that the hormonal changes of hypothyroidism can alter physical appearance and make someone look older than their years:

  • Puffy face and eyelids – Excess fluid retention and swelling caused by the hormonal imbalance can lead to puffiness around the eyes and a swollen facial appearance.
  • Dry, coarse skin – Skin relies on thyroid hormone for regeneration. Low levels lead to flaky, dull, rough skin with fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Thinning hair – Hair follicles need adequate thyroid hormone to grow hair. Hypothyroidism disrupts the hair growth cycle leading to excessive shedding and thinning hair.
  • Weight gain – A slowed metabolism makes it easier to gain weight and harder to lose it. The added weight, especially around the face, can make someone appear older.
  • Muscle loss – Without enough thyroid hormone, muscles weaken and start to atrophy. Loss of facial muscle tone contributes to a saggy or aged look.
  • Fatigue – Feeling constantly tired or rundown shows on your face and ages your appearance.

In essence, the hormonal effects of hypothyroidism disrupt many normal processes of metabolism, growth, and regeneration. This leads to changes like fluid accumulation, skin and hair issues, weight gain, muscle loss, and fatigue that can make someone seem older than their true age.

Factors that influence the aging effect

While untreated hypothyroidism generally does make people look older, the degree of visible aging can vary from person to person. Some factors play a role:

  • Severity – The milder the thyroid hormone deficiency, the less it is likely to visibly age appearance. Severe, long-standing hypothyroidism has a more pronounced effect.
  • Age – Older people with hypothyroidism may have an amplified aged appearance compared to younger people, who have more collagen and skin elasticity to start with.
  • Genetics – Genes influence how resilient someone’s skin and facial features are to the aging effect of hypothyroidism.
  • Diet – Poor nutrition lacking in antioxidants and collagen-supporting nutrients can worsen the impact on skin.
  • Stress level – High stress is known to accelerate aging. Combining hypothyroidism with chronic stress can be especially aging.
  • Sun damage – Exposure to UV light ages the skin. People with hypothyroidism may spend less time outside, reducing sun damage.

As you can see, multiple variables beyond just the low thyroid hormone itself impact the degree to which hypothyroidism makes someone appear older than their chronological age.

Visible signs of hypothyroidism aging

These visible changes tend to signal an aged appearance caused by hypothyroidism:

  • Puffy, swollen eyes and eyelids
  • Pale, dull, dry, and wrinkled skin
  • Thin, brittle nails
  • Thin and/or missing outer eyebrows
  • Thinning hair, especially at temples and crown of head
  • Sagging facial skin
  • Deep wrinkles or furrows in face
  • Yellowish tinge to skin
  • Weight gain in face, neck, and body
  • Constant tired or strained facial expression

Keep in mind that none of these on their own necessarily mean someone has hypothyroidism. But together they paint a picture of premature aging that, when combined with other hypothyroid symptoms, point to low thyroid as a likely cause.

Treating hypothyroidism to reduce aging effects

The good news is that the aging effects of hypothyroidism are reversible with proper treatment! Restoring normal thyroid hormone levels can help rejuvenate someone’s appearance and reverse signs of premature aging.

There are a few key ways treating hypothyroidism can reduce the aged look:

  • Levothyroxine medication raises thyroid hormone levels back to normal ranges when the thyroid is underactive. This helps reverse many hormonal effects.
  • Adjusting diet and nutrition to support skin, hair, weight goals, and managing inflammation.
  • Using moisturizers and gentle skin care routines to hydrate and nourish the skin.
  • Establishing an exercise routine to build muscle tone, strengthen bones, boost circulation.
  • Exploring stress relief techniques to manage fatigue and anxiety.
  • Identifying and treating any vitamin or mineral deficiencies.

For optimal rejuvenating effects, it is critical to have thyroid hormone levels monitored regularly with blood tests. This ensures the treatment dosage is properly adjusted over time. With consistent thyroid replacement medication and a holistic approach to overall wellness, the aging effects of hypothyroidism can be successfully minimized or reversed.

Maintaining a youthful appearance

Here are some proactive tips for keeping a more youthful, vibrant appearance even with hypothyroidism:

  • Take thyroid medication daily as prescribed. Don’t miss or double doses.
  • Choose skin care products with hydrating and rejuvenating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, retinol, vitamin C, and peptides.
  • Protect skin from sun damage by wearing SPF 30 sunscreen every day.
  • Eat more fresh fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and lean proteins. These provide antioxidants and nutrients for great skin.
  • Style hair in a volumizing cut and use volumizing products to create the illusion of thicker hair.
  • Do strength training and weight-bearing exercises to build up muscles and bone density.
  • Get 7-9 hours of sleep per night for physical and mental rejuvenation.
  • Manage stress through relaxing activities like yoga, meditation, massage therapy.
  • Stay well hydrated by drinking water throughout the day.

While hypothyroidism can contribute to a prematurely aged appearance, the right treatment plan and self-care steps can help overcome the hormonal effects and maintain your most youthful, vibrant self at any age.


Hypothyroidism can often lead to an aged appearance, due to the metabolic effects of low thyroid hormone levels on the skin, hair, muscles, and more. However, the degree to which it contributes to visible aging varies from person to person based on factors like severity, genetics, diet, and lifestyle. Thankfully, treating the hormonal imbalance with thyroid medication and adopting a holistic approach to wellness can help reverse premature aging and restore a more youthful look.