How does determine age?

By now you may have seen Microsoft’s age estimating software, If you have not, it is a simple website that estimates the ages of people in photos you upload. Using it is a lot of fun. But, how does determine the person’s age?

While the details of the algorithm are not known, I have done some experimenting with pictures of myself and Photoshop to try and get some answers. First, I uploaded an un-retouched picture of myself to get my age. Then I retouched specific areas to see what impact they would have on my estimated age. The results are very interesting.

My baseline picture

Original photoAge of original photo

The photo above is un-retouched.  When I uploaded it into, it computed that I look 47.

Removing lower eyelid hollows and wrinkles

The first thing I changed was to reduce the hollowness and remove the wrinkles under my eyes.

Erased under eye shadows and wrinklesAge after erasing under eye shadows and wrinkles

Low and behold, that shaved 5 years off!  The cosmetic procedures that we can use to do this in real life are Botox under the eyes, fillers into the hollows under the eyes, and fractional CO2 resurfacing of the lower eyelids.

Filling the temples

Next, I wondered what would happen if I filled my temples.  So, I used Photoshop to make my temples look a little less hollow.  In the following picture, I only changed my temples.  I reverted my under eye hollows and wrinkles back to baseline.

Filled templesAge after filling temples

Filling the temples was not as rejuvenating as improving my lower eyelids, but it helped.  No question about it.  The products I most often use to fill the temples are Radiesse and Voluma.

Enlarging my eyes

Next, I decided to play around with the openness of my eyes.  Babies have big eyes, so it would make sense that the computer may think people with bigger eyes look younger.  It turns out, it does.

Enlarged my eyesAge after enlarging my eyes

Just by using Photoshop to expand my eyes a little bit, I shaved a year off my age.  Again, the only change in the pictures above is that my eyes are a fraction bigger.  I did not do anything to my temples or lower eyelids.


As a modern dermatologist where aesthetic treatments are a significant part of my practice, I found this exercise very interesting.  Of course, it is not possible to draw definitive conclusions as to exactly how, works since these are only minor tweaks to one photograph, but the findings are suggestive.  Hopefully, we will learn more and, maybe even, be able to use the results of our experiments to help our efforts to rejuvenate in real life.

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Lawrence Osman, MD

Lawrence Osman, M.D. is a board-certified dermatologist and liposuction surgeon in Los Angeles specializing in minimally invasive techniques such as liposuction using local anesthesia. He has offices in the Los Angeles area in both Northridge and Calabasas. Visit to learn more.

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