Help For a Jowly Jawline

Beginning in our mid-twenties, our body’s production of collagen, the spongey substance that keeps skin plump and firm, begins to decline at a rate of about one percent per year. That means, by age fifty, we have about twenty-five percent less collagen than we did in our twenties and, most likely, a softening jawline to show for it. Here's how to ditch the droop.

By Genevieve Monsma
do i have jowls?


Boost Collagen Production Topically

Using skincare products proven to boost your skin’s own collagen production (and thus slow the progressive loss) is an obvious, easy, and affordable place to start. Two collagen-increasing active ingredients frequently recommended by dermatologists are retinoids and collagen peptides. Both work by revving up the productivity of fibroblasts, the parts of the skin responsible for making new collagen. Retinoids may be found in over-the-counter Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream or Rx-strength Retin-A, while collagen peptides are aplenty in Peter Thomas Roth Peptide 21 Lift & Firm Moisturizer and Juice Beauty Signal Peptides Firming Serum. Note: Using topicals to increase collagen requires patience as it can take up to six months to see results.

Try Microcurrent Therapy

Boosting your body’s collagen production is a long-term solution—and, as we mentioned, it takes time. So, if you want to start seeing improvement right now, there are other ways to make your jawline appear more taut, albeit temporarily. “A microcurrent facial uses low-level electrical currents to trigger the body’s natural skin enhancement chemicals at a cellular level, improving muscle tone, lifting jowls, aiding in lymphatic drainage, and improving circulation,” says Dendy Engelman, M.D., a Manhattan dermatologist and the director of dermatologic surgery at Metropolitan Hospital. The lifting you see right after a microcurrent facial can last up to a week. Manual stimulation via facial massage, or an at-home skin roller, may also help with circulation and lymphatic drainage, though the lifting result is typically shorter-lived than a micro-current facial. (Think two days versus seven.) That said, if you make facial massage or face rolling part of your daily routine, you could see sustained results.  For tips on how to do facial massage, skincare company Shiseido offers video tutorials here. Rather have someone else do the massaging for you? British brand The Face Gym, which offers facial “workouts” (aka targeted massages), has just landed stateside in Manhattan with promises of opening new locations across the U.S. this year. Or give DIY face rolling a go with It Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Face & Neck Citrine Roller or the Jillian Dempsey Gold Bar; both devices come with instructions.

Consider Hyaluronic Acid Fillers

Strategic placement of hyaluronic acid fillers “can help boost facial volume and give the illusion of a less saggy face,” says Robert M. Schwarcz, M.D., a Manhattan oculofacial cosmetic and reconstructive surgeon and associate clinical professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Sometimes referred to as a ‘liquid facelift,’ this technique involves injecting thicker, more viscous fillers into the mid and upper part of the face to add volume in those areas and, subsequently, pulling up the slack skin along the jawline. Although the effect is not permanent and lasts only as long as the filler does (from six months to two years, depending on the type of filler used), injectable filers also stimulate the skin’s own collagen production. Therefore, similar to topical collagen boosters, getting fillers for an immediate lift may also help you maintain firmer skin long-term.

Tone and Tighten with Radiofrequency or Ultrasound

 In-office skin-firming treatments that utilize radiofrequency (Thermage) or ultrasound (Ultherapy) technology lift and tone by stimulating fibroblasts to make more collagen. The fibroblast stimulation is believed to be stronger than what you’d get from topical or injectable collagen boosters, and thus the results can also be more dramatic. You still need to wait to see improvement though—typically three to six months. Results vary widely from person to person, depending on the current condition of your skin, and both treatments are recommended for people with mild to moderate sagging, not heavy jowls. The average cost for either therapy is around $2500.

See a Plastic Surgeon

At a certain point, fillers, radiofrequency, and ultrasound-based technology may no longer lift the lower face as much as you want,” says Dr. Schwarcz. And once that happens, it’s either time to accept your new normal—or go see a plastic surgeon about a facelift. Surgery is really the only option “to address heavy jowls, deep wrinkles adjacent to the mouth or cheeks or a significantly sagging jawline,” says Schwarcz. 

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