Q & A: Jowl Surgery

Q: After I turned 40, I started noticing a droopiness to the jaw and lower cheek areas on either side of my chin. I am really unhappy with this area because it makes me look older than my age. Is there anything that can be done about jowls?

A: We hear this quite frequently from patients in their 40s and up who have noticed sagging in the jowl area because of collagen loss, decreased skin elasticity, and due to the “wear and tear” of certain repetitive facial expressions over time. Unfortunately, this is a common side effect of aging. The good news is that you have several options to rejuvenate this area and make your face appear more youthful.

Ultherapy. Because sagging jowls are frequently caused by the loss of collagen, Ultherapy is a good option for tightening this area. Ultherapy is the only non-invasive technology approved by the FDA to lift and tighten skin on the face, neck and chest. Ultherapy uses ultrasound energy to stimulate collagen regeneration at a very deep level. As your body begins to produce more collagen, your skin will look significantly firmer and tighter. Whether you are a candidate for this treatment depends on your skin’s condition and the amount of tightening desired.

Smart lipo. SmartLipo is laser-assisted sculpting that tightens the skin while melting unwanted fat to improve your jaw and neckline. Downtime and discomfort are minimal and there is virtually no scarring. It’s also a fairly speedy procedure, performed with local anesthesia and light sedation in under an hour.

Lower face and neck lift. If your skin is sagging significantly in the jowl and neck area, your best option may be a lower face and neck lift, also know as a rhytidectomy. During this minimally- invasive surgical procedure, your facial plastic surgeon will lift the neck as well as contour the jawline, eliminating jowls and excess skin in the neck. This procedure may be done on its own, or in combination with laser skin resurfacing and volume addition with fat grafting. The incisions are all well hidden around the ear and behind the hairline, and the procedure can be done under local anesthesia with light sedation. Recovery is typically a week to 10 days. The goal should always be to attain a youthful, smooth, natural appearance.

Which of these options is the best for you will depend on the level of sagging, your skin’s tone and overall condition, and other factors such as general health.

Surgical interventions will be more long-lasting than Ulthera or laser liposuction, and you may choose to do a less-invasive option now and a more comprehensive procedure later. Or you may end up combining a surgical procedure with a non-invasive laser treatment to further rejuvenate your skin. Your cosmetic or facial plastic surgeon will take all of these factors into consideration before presenting you with a personalized treatment plan.

To be a candidate for any surgical procedure, you must be a non-smoker in good general health, between the ages of 18 and 70 (or slightly older if you are very healthy). We routinely perform these procedures on both men and women.

Please make sure you choose a board-certified surgeon who has performed many of these procedures, and who has demonstrated a mastery of technique as well as artistic ability. A skillful face or neck lift will never look “done” or plastic, but natural and refreshed. Request “before and after” shots of your surgeon’s previous patients and ask as many questions as needed until you feel comfortable with your choice of surgeon and procedure.

Our board-certified facial plastic surgeon, Dr. Carey Nease, has been voted Chattanooga’s “Best of the Best” cosmetic surgeon for six consecutive years. He has performed thousands of these procedures and has developed exceptional skill in aesthetic procedures on the face and neck. If you would like to schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Carey Nease, please call Southern Surgical Arts at 423-266-3331.’

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