What are Jowls?
Jowl is the medical term used for sagging of the skin below the chin or the jawline. Jowl starts to appear as an individual ages. In fact, this is one of the first sign that age is catching up with an individual. With age, the tautness of the skin begins to lack and the skin starts sagging. This along with poor muscle tone starts to become more and more pronounced with passing age. This results in the face looking squarer than round or oval which is the norm. Development of jowls makes an individual look older than the actual age. He or she will also look overweight even though their weight may be more or less normal.
It is quite common for jowls to develop with age. As of recently, the only way to get rid of jowls and sagging skin was through surgical procedures like a facelift or injections. However, the outcome of these procedures was not always satisfactory and the face in most cases lacked a natural appearance.
There are some factors like stress, lifestyle, and genetic makeup can lead to the development of pronounced jowls irrespective of age. Some studies suggest that acupuncture causes production of healthy collagen in cells of the skin. This tightens up the skin and straightens the jawline thus getting rid of most of the jowls.
What Causes Jowls?
There are several factors like genetic predisposition or stress which can cause the development of jowls in an individual, its primary cause remains the natural process of aging. The process of development of jowls can be explained as when an individual enters the fourth and fifth decade of life the skin loses some of its elements that cause it to remain tight and in shape. The essential compounds that are lost as one ages are elastin and collagen. These both compounds are absolutely necessary for maintaining the shape and elasticity of the face.
As a result, the skin becomes dry and thin. Gradually, it starts to lose its shape. When the gravitational force acts on the loose skin it slowly starts to sag leading to the development of jowls in which the skin around the cheeks sags down to the level of the chin. There are also certain risk factors which increase the likelihood of the development of jowls in an individual.
These factors include:
- History of frequent sunburns.
- People who consume excessive alcohol are also at risk for developing Jowls. Individuals who suffer from severe dehydration also are at increased risk for developing Jowls.
- Stress also plays a role in the development of Jowls as excessive stress results in various hormonal and chemical changes which impact the production of collagen and elastin causing Jowls.
- Overuse of the jaw muscles and mouth like chewing gum constantly also puts an individual at risk for developing jowls.
- Putting on heavy makeup also increases the risk of Jowls. This is because the chemicals present in makeup affects the skin of the face resulting in them sagging. An individual who does not take care of the skin of the face also risks the development of Jowls. Some people tend to use excessive skin cleansers and scrub the skin too often while cleaning the face. This also damages the skin cells and decreases collagen production causing Jowls.
- Any injury to the muscles of the face can also damage the skin cells causing the individual to develop jowls.
- Studies have also linked jowls to the genetic makeup of an individual. It has been observed that people with a family history of this condition is more at risk for developing jowls than the normal population.
- People who have quick weight loss also tend to have multiple skin folds develop causing jowls.
Treatments To Get Rid of Jowls
Jowl is a benign medical condition and often does not require any treatment. People seek treatment for this condition only for cosmetic reasons. This is because having a sagging skin on the face may be socially embarrassing and may dent their self-confidence. This is usually seen in aging actors and actresses. Since treatment for jowls is usually elective thus it is not covered by insurance.
There are a variety of procedures that are done to get rid of jowls. These can be done as an inpatient or as an outpatient procedure.
Some of the procedures to treat Jowls include:
Fillers: These are compounds which are injected in the face that fill up the space caused by fat cells that are lost due to aging. Once the cheek gets tight and lifted it naturally lifts the skin around the jawline thus making the face more round. In some cases, fillers are injected directly in the area of the Jowl.
A study conducted to look at the efficacy of fillers in getting rid of jowls. The study concluded that more than 90% of the people were satisfied by the procedure and in some cases were ecstatic with what they achieved after the procedure. A filler injection usually contains hyaluronic acid, silicone, or calcium hydroxyapatite.
The effect of the filler injection generally lasts for around 4 years; however, the severity of the jowls decides how long the effect will last. It should be noted that filler injections are more effective in people between 40 and 50 years of age. People above the age of 50 will require additional treatments apart from filler injection to get rid of jowls completely.
Neck Lifts: This is yet another procedure to get rid of jowls. This procedure involves making an incision around the neck and jaw and tightening the muscles and remove excess fat from the chin and cheeks. Neck lift is perhaps the most effective way of treating jowls. However, recovery period of this surgery is quite prolonged and there is also increased risk for complications. This procedure is also quite heavy for the pocket and most people cannot afford it.
Ultrasound: This procedure involves use of ultrasound to stimulate collagen production deep within the skin and thus manage jowls. This procedure is done as an outpatient and the patient can return to normal routine after the procedure is over on the same day.
Studies suggest that people have observed continued improvement even several months after the treatment. A study pointed that more than 70% of people continued to see improvements in their face even after three months post ultrasound treatments for Jowls.
Radiotherapy: This is yet another effective procedure for treatment of Jowls. Radiotherapy procedure works similar to ultrasound by stimulating collagen production within the skin. The intense heat of the radiation causes the skin to tighten up below the surface. This process needs several sessions for optimal results.
Other Treatment Options for Jowls: In some cases, people also resort to chemical peeling and laser treatments for Jowls which have also shown a lot of promise in managing this condition. People have now started to move more towards less invasive methods of treating jowls like acupuncture, face yoga and facial massage. These methods are also quite effective in dealing with Jowls.
Jowls cannot be prevented in its entirety but certain steps can certainly delay the process of aging. The best way to do this is by exercising regularly and keeping body well hydrated. Whenever an individual has to go out during summers then it is best to use a sunscreen to prevent any damage to the skin cells from ultraviolet rays of the sun.
Adequate use of light moisturizers also helps in keeping the skin tight and delays the onset of Jowls.
Additionally, using creams rich in antioxidants also help in preventing or delaying the onset of Jowls. It is also helpful to abstain from smoking and eating a healthy and balanced diet to prevent onset of Jowls at an early age.
In conclusion, Jowls develops as a normal process of aging and cannot be prevented for long. However, there are certain factors which hasten the process of aging causing Jowls to develop at much earlier age than is the norm. These factors include unhealthy diet, sudden weight loss, or damage to the skin cells due to excessive sun exposure to name a few.
Jowls are completely harmless and pose no threat to the overall health of the individual. However, some people especially public figures tend to find Jowls uncomfortable and go for treatment of this. Treating Jowls is an elective procedure and no insurance covers this. There are various options which have been proven to be quite effective in treating Jowls. These include filler injections, neck lifts, ultrasound and radiotherapy.