When you hear the word “jowls,” what image comes to mind? You might picture a saggy-faced mastiff or a bloodhound. But pets aren’t the only creatures who develop jowls. Humans can get them too. And while jowls might increase the cuteness factor for a pup, most of us would agree that jowls don’t do the same for people.
What are Jowls?
As people get older, their jawlines usually begin to soften and the skin loses its elasticity. This drop in elasticity can lead to sagging and droopiness. When the skin sags under the chin and in the neck area, it’s known as jowls.
Some people develop more prominent and visible jowls than others, due to genes, lifestyle habits or a combination of the two. One primary cause of jowls is the loss of collagen and elastin from the skin. Collagen and elastin are the proteins that help to keep skin firm, supple and elastic. As production of these proteins slows down, skin becomes looser and loses its firmness. That, combined with gravity, can lead to drooping in the jawline and beneath the chin.
Lifestyle choices and habits can also determine how much skin sagging a person will develop in the lower part of the face. Habits like smoking or spending hours in the sun can speed up the breakdown of collagen, leading to more sagging. Certain physical habits, such as constantly bending from the neck to look at a phone screen or leaning forward all day staring at a computer monitor, might also contribute to the formation of jowls.
Does Everyone Get Jowls?
Although sagging and drooping in the neck and lower portion of the face is part of the aging process, it’s also possible for some people not to develop very prominent jowls. The thickness of your skin, how much collagen your body produces naturally, and how much fat you have in the neck and lower portion of your face can all influence how visible skin sagging and droopiness is.
Sometimes, people notice that they develop jowls after losing a significant amount of weight, as the skin isn’t able to snap back into place. Your genes can also influence whether or not you end up with significant sagging around the jawline and neck. If your parents have jowls, there is a high chance that you will develop them as well.
What You Can Do About Jowls
If you are concerned about a softening jawline or sagging in the neck area, you have a few options. Your options primarily depend on how severe the problem is.
If you’re just beginning to notice a bit of sagging, non-surgical options might be able to give you a lift. For example, dermal fillers in the cheek area or around your mouth might be able to perk up the droopiness and give your face a lift. Fillers don’t last forever, and they won’t be able to lift skin that’s significantly droopy, but they might help minimize the smallest of jowls.
In cases where the jowls are more advanced and very visible, surgery to lift and tighten the skin might be the best option. A neck lift and facelift can help to tighten sagging skin around the lower part of the face and in the neck area. It’s usually the best option for people with significant jowls or severe sagging in the lower area of the face.
Can You Prevent Jowls?
While you might not be able to fully stop jowls from forming, there are things you can do to try and prevent them. Not smoking and avoiding too much sun exposure are probably two of the best things you can do to minimize the appearance of jowls. If you use a smartphone or computer regularly, pay attention to the angle of your neck as you use your device. Instead of bending the neck forward, try keeping your face upright, holding the screen directly in front of you.
If you’re concerned about sagging skin in the neck and other areas of your face or have concerns about other signs of aging, such as wrinkles, a board-certified facial plastic surgeon can help you understand which treatment options are available and what you can do to look as youthful as possible, for as long as possible. Dr. Michael Schwartz is a board-certified facial plastic surgeon in West Palm Beach, Florida who specializes in facial procedures, including facelifts and neck lifts. To learn more about jowls and what you can do about them, call 561-228-5888 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Schwartz today.