5 Nonsurgical Ways To Improve The Look Of Your Sagging Jowls
The very best solutions for those who don’t want to go under the knife.
Nora Ephron may have felt bad about her neck. For me, it’s my jawline. Over this past year I’ve noticed a little less firmness and, dare I say, the beginning of tiny jowls. I blame age and hormones, yes, but also Zoom, which has forced me to spend more time looking at my face than I’d like.
I’m definitely not alone. As we age, elastin and collagen — the two proteins responsible for firm, springy skin — break down. And although this is part of the natural aging process, it can be accelerated by too much sun exposure, environmental stressors, genetics, significant weight loss or weight gain, and bad habits like smoking and too much alcohol.
No matter the cause, medical experts like Dean Vistnes, M.D., a board certified plastic surgeon and the medical director for the Skin Spirit medspa, says that it’s critical to consult with a professional to identify the root cause of the problem — since the best treatment options depend on the specific causes and a person’s anatomy. “In my experience treating the lower face, it’s usually a combination of fillers and skin tightening to address the various factors contributing to the problem,” he says.
For women who don’t want to go under the knife and have minimal-to-moderate sagging, here are some nonsurgical options for improving the look of your jawline and jowls.
Preventative skin care
Sun exposure can speed up aging like nobody’s business, so prevention is key. Applying sunscreen every day is a must. We like EltaMD broad-spectrum sunscreen, and at night a quality retinol like Senté Bio Complete Serum is a must to help protect the skin. Munique Maia, M.D., a board certified plastic surgeon based in Washington, D.C., recommends using medical-grade skin-care products with antioxidants — for overall skin health — and peptides, which are the building blocks for collagen formation. “Increased collagen reduces the appearance of fine lines and restores skin firmness,” she says. She recommends the Maia MD Skin Rejuvenator made with seven peptides and hyaluronic acid to enhance collagen production, reduce the appearance of fine lines, and help restore skin firmness and elasticity. Another option you might try: Neutrogena's Rapid Wrinkle Repair that sells for $18.74.
Ultherapy and Thermage
Two noninvasive therapies that tighten loose skin, sagging skin and jowls are Ultherapy and Thermage. Tina Alster, M.D., founding director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery, explains that Ultherapy uses microfocused ultrasound wave technology to target deep below the surface of the skin without causing any superficial damage to the outer skin layers. “By firming and tightening subcutaneous tissue, Ultherapy lifts facial, jaw and neck skin, creating a natural and more youthful appearance to the lower face,” she says. Thermage delivers radiofrequency energy through the outer layer of skin into the dermis, causing it to contract and tighten.
The procedures can take from 30 minutes to two hours, and while there’s no downtime, patients may experience some tenderness and redness. Ultherapy can be uncomfortable, so some doctors will prescribe pain medication or a mild sedative. Results typically take several months as collagen and elastin are rejuvenated, so this is not a quick-fix option. Both procedures average $2,500 to $3,500.
Dermal fillers aren’t just for wrinkles and marionette lines. They can be used to contour the jawline as well. Your doctor might use a variety of hyaluronic acid fillers — including Restylane Lyft or Radiesse — though the Juvéderm Voluma XC currently is the only FDA-approved filler for jaw and chin augmentation. During the procedure, the filler is injected along the jawline and chin to create a more defined jawline. “Depending on the patient, it can also result in a lifting effect,” Maia explains. Most patients need two or three syringes, and each one costs from $700 to $1,000. The effects can last from one to two years.
Thread lift/nonsurgical facelift
A thread lift, or nonsurgical facelift, is a type of procedure where temporary sutures are used to produce a subtle but visible “lift” in the skin. Instead of removing a patient’s loose facial skin surgically, the cosmetic surgeon “suspends it” by stitching up portions of it for a more lifted and tightened appearance. This type of procedure also stimulates the body’s healing response and causes it to direct large amounts of collagen to treated areas. A nonsurgical facelift can produce immediate, dramatic results and is done in-office in less than an hour. “It’s a great option for patients that have a big event (like a wedding) coming up,” Maia says. This type of procedure lasts about a year and costs around $2,500.