Getting older brings a host of changes to the body, including dry skin, weight gain, and hair loss. However, one of the most frustrating evolutions can be the appearance of jowls, those sagging bits of skin beneath your jawline. Unfortunately, they are often irreversible—unless you want to go under the knife. “Despite many attempts to reduce the appearance of jowls using conservative measures, the gold standard remains the surgical face and neck lift,” says board-certified plastic surgeon Arian Mowlavi, MD. This procedure lifts the skin and underlying soft tissue up and back, which can eliminate sagginess for the long term. However, if you’d prefer a less invasive treatment, there are options. Read on to learn how to eliminate jowls without a facelift.
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Fillers can be used to give you much more than a plumper pout. They can also help minimize the look of jowls. “Typically, this involves placing a judicious amount of filler around the cheekbones to help lift the skin of the lower face,” says board-certified plastic surgeon Samuel Lin, MD. Luckily, most people are eligible candidates for this procedure.
So, what can you expect? Before the treatment, you and your provider will establish goals and expectations. Then, they’ll clean the area and, in some cases, apply a numbing cream. “While injections are not painless, they are usually well tolerated by patients and take a few moments each,” says Lin. When everything is said and done, you should be in and out of the office in 15 to 30 minutes.
Afterward, you can get right back to your life. “No real downtime is needed,” says Lin. “Strenuous activity should be avoided for the first 24 to 48 hours to limit the chances of swelling and bruising.” You can expect filler to last between six months and two years.
“Don’t want to go the filler route? Another non-surgical option is an ultrasound skin-tightening procedure such as Sofwave or Ultherapy. “These devices use ultrasound energy to stimulate collagen production which can help tighten the skin and improve mild jowling,” says Lin. He notes the treatments require no downtime and are safe for all skin types.
Unsurprisingly, results from this type of procedure will be much less dramatic than the results you’d get from surgery. They’ll last approximately a year.
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If you don’t want to opt for a full facelift, perhaps a mini-lift would be more suitable. “A mini-facelift addresses loose skin and signs of aging in the midface—the area between the corners of the eye and the corners of the mouth—and jowls,” says Lin.
During this procedure, the surgeon makes an incision in front of the ear. Excess skin is removed and the remaining skin is repositioned to lay flat. Lin notes that this procedure is sometimes called a “short scar facelift” because it results in a shorter scar in front of the ear than a regular one. The procedure requires about one to three weeks of downtime for recovery.
“While a mini-facelift is less extensive than a facelift, it is still surgery,” says Lin. “Because of this, some temporary pain during recovery is possible but will be carefully managed by your surgeon.”
Choosing to get any cosmetic procedure isn’t something you should take lightly. Before you decide on a treatment, meet with a trusted expert. “Any patient interested in surgical or non-surgical treatment to address jowls should consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon to learn more about the best options for their individual situation,” says Lin.
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