All About Jowls: Causes, Preventions, & Treatments

The majority of anti-aging skin care products you see today all try to treat the same stuff: wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots. But what about sagging jowls? Jowls receive relatively little attention in the anti-aging world, which is ironic since losing a sharp jawline can show your skin's age more than anything else. 

You may have heard the term "jowls" before, but may not know what it means. According to Donna Hart, a board certified dermatologist, "the lower face tends to be one of the first areas of the face to show the signs of aging". Over time, Hart states, the appearance of jowls can "dramatically alter the silhouette of their skin and upper neck". 

In today's blog, you'll learn what jowls are, what causes jowls, and the best ways to prevent jowls. 

What are jowls?

The term "jowls" most commonly refers to excess sagging or drooping skin that collects along the lower part of the face, just below the jawline and cheeks. Sagging of this area reduces the naturally sharp contour of the chin and jawline. 

This can cause the jawline to appear lower than usual, and many notice more pronounced folds that develop along the sides of the mouth, called "nasolabial folds". 

Nearly everyone develops at least some minor jowls as they age. Things like genetics and lifestyle choices will alter how pronounced their jowls are. 

What causes jowls?

The primary cause of jowls is the skin losing the strength and elasticity it once had during your youth. In simple terms, as we age, the skin loses its structural integrity and its flexibility. In scientific terms, sagging jowls are caused by a loss of fat, a decrease in collagen and elastin, and a loss of hydration. Let's cover each of these in detail so that you know exactly what causes sagging jowls. 

Decreased levels of collagen and elastin

As we've covered in previous blogs, the skin naturally produces less collagen and elastin as we age. Collagen is a structural protein that is responsible for the resilience, strength, and durability of the skin. Collagen is what makes the skin look plump and firm.

Elastin, similar to collagen, is an elastic protein that allows the skin to resume its shape after stretching. Elastin is what makes the skin flexible and supple. 

Both collagen and elastin help maintain the strength and elasticity of the skin. With aging comes a decrease in the production of these skin proteins, resulting in weaker skin structure. The skin along the cheeks gradually loses its firmness and shape as a result. Eventually, this area can begin to sag, due to the pull of gravity and the skin losing its ability to hold its shape. 

Decreased facial fat

Now hold on, the loss of facial is a bad thing now? Well, as it pertains to jowls, the sudden loss of face fat can accelerate the appearance of jowls. As we age, we naturally lose more fat in the face. This is problematic because as you lose volume in your cheeks, everything begins to fall because of gravity. This skin is often unable to fully snap back into its original place, leading to sagging. Over time, you'll notice the development of not just sagging jowls, but potentially laugh lines and wrinkles as well.

Decreased hydration

One cause of sagging jowls that may surprise you is the loss of hydration in the skin since the skin, as we age, begins to produce less hyaluronic acid. 

You may have heard of hyaluronic acid as a product you can buy in pharmacy stores, but your body actually naturally produces it! Hyaluronic acid is the key molecule involved with skin moisture. 

Without a sufficient amount of hyaluronic acid, the skin becomes dry and thin, making it more vulnerable to gravity. The skin will gradually begin to sag over time, resulting in jowls. 

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