What are Jowls, Causes, Prevention, How to Get Rid of Them without Surgery, with Exercises, and Surgically

jowls-how to get rid of jowls
Jowls - Image courtesy: PatriciaPilot.com

The natural aging process comes with many bodily changes and beauty problems. The face in particular experiences many changes ranging from wrinkles to age spots, double chin, turkey neck, and sagging jowls. Affecting the cheek and jaw area, saggy jowls are a concern for a lot of people especially when they appear very early.

They make you look or feel older as well as alter the appearance of your face. Even when old enough to spot them, some people feel that jowls give away their age too much. Luckily when it comes to how to get rid of jowls, there are numerous options on the table for you to choose from ranging from facial exercises for jowls to fillers and jowl surgery, among others.

What Are Jowls

The term “jowls” refers to the flesh along the lower jaw especially when fleshy or sagging. If the skin in your lower cheeks seems to hang along or sink below the jawline, then you have saggy jowls or “jowls”.

They tend to affect women more, beginning to appear in their 40s but in some people, they may occur as early as 20s. Although anyone can be affected by jowls, people with fuller faces tend to get them much later compared to their narrower-faced counterparts.

What Causes Jowls to Sag

You are without a doubt looking forward to learning how to get rid of jowls – that is presumably why you are here – but knowing what causes saggy jowls in the first place will help you to better understand the principles behind some of the jowl tightening and reduction methods discussed on this page.

Jowls are caused by loose skin and reducing facial volume due to factors such as:

1. Aging

Aging is the main cause of saggy jowls. As we get older, the skin loses collagen and elastin; two vital protein components that help to keep the skin firm and taut (smooth). When that happens, the skin starts giving in to the downward gravitational pull. In the jawline area, this manifests itself in the pouches of flesh referred to as jowls.

Ageing-related laxity in the skin and subcutaneous tissues can also cause lower cheek fat to move down and contribute to the development of jowls as Dr. Michael Law, a Plastic Surgeon practicing in Raleigh-Durham says.

2. Genetics

Some people have a hereditary predisposition to jowls. This may, for example, explain incidents of jowls that appear so early. If your parents have developed jowls, you might have a genetic predisposition to the problem as well.

3. Sun Damage

Do you spend hours on the end outdoors exercising on hot sunny days? This could be playing a part in the development of saggy jowls. Excessive exposure to UV damages the collagen in the skin in the long-term. For you, how to get rid of jowls constitutes slathering up a good sunscreen (SPF 30+) before you hit the road, including on cloudy days, even as you embark on other jowl removal methods.

4. Weight loss

Weight loss can play a part in the appearance of jowls. With weight gain, the skin on your face and other areas of the body stretch accordingly to accommodate the extra volume. Subsequent weight loss may leave you with an extra loose skin in the jawline – in comes the jowls – and the neck.

5. Working So Long On A Computer

According to Dr. Michael Prager, a London based cosmetic surgeon, working long hours on a computer as is common with most office workers put you at higher risk of not only saggy jowls but also “turkey neck” or “second neck” as some people describe it along with other premature signs of ageing such as wrinkles and fine lines.

6. Smoking

Smoking can also cause jowls to sag faster. Cigarette smoke contains nicotine and many other harmful chemicals that hasten up the ageing process by not only damaging collagen and elastin but also narrowing the blood vessels in the skin and thus hampering blood circulation. Consequently, the skin is deprived of essential nutrients that help to protect it from damage e.g. vitamin A.

How to Get Rid Of Jowls Sagging Fast with Surgery (Surgically)

Sagging jowls add years to your face since they steal away from that youthful, well-chiseled shape of the jawline and make your face be more of a rectangle, a shape associated with ageing. Below is a breakdown of what to do about sagging jowls.

1. Jowl Lift (Surgery)

I spent a lot of time researching how to get rid of jowls and one thing that plastic surgeons seem to agree on is that jowl surgery (aka facelift) is the best way to tighten and fix sagging jowls. It is especially suitable for jowls characterized by significant laxity. It is also the treatment of choice for patients who have shown no improvement with non-invasive procedures such as dermal fillers. Jowl lift can be done as an outpatient procedure.

Jowl lift also requires minimal downtime but it is still important to be realistic about your expectations. Although jowl lift gives long-term results, saggy jowls can still recur with further ageing. According to Christopher T. Maloney Jr., MD, a plastic surgeon in Tucson, a mini-facelift may be necessary 10-30 years down the line to tighten the jowls again.

During a jowl lift, the excess skin is tightened and the underlying soft tissue called SMAS which is associated with cheek fat repositioned. Specific surgical approaches to jowl surgeries vary greatly among plastic surgeons. For example, some surgeons excise any excess fat in the jowls while others don’t; instead, they pull it along with the skin.

Now, how much does it cost to get rid of jowls surgically? Well, jowl surgery cost will vary tremendously depending on factors such as location, the reputation of the surgeon, and the technique used. You can generally expect a jowl surgery to cost between $5,000 and $16,000, with an average cost of $10,000.

2. Jowl Liposuction

Some surgeons perform liposuction as part of the face lift surgery. As the name implies, this minimally invasive jowl removal procedure involves suctioning the excess fat from the jawline, neck, and probably cheeks with the help of a special tube called a cannula. It is performed under local anesthesia.

Jowl liposuction may also be chosen for patients that do not desire a jowl lift (face lift) as well as those whose medical history disqualifies them as candidates for the same.

Other than the “traditional” liposuction, your plastic surgeon may as well recommend other techniques such as laser liposuction and lipo dissolve injection. The latter is, however, falling out of favor of many plastic surgeons.

How to Get Rid Of Jowls on Face without Surgery

Jowl lift (facelift of jowl surgery if you like) is the most reliable way to get rid of jowls and turkey neck and is particularly recommended for very loose jowls. It may however not be suitable for all patients. Less saggy jawlines may also benefit from using other less invasive (non-surgical) jowl removal techniques and procedures, with surgery being resorted to only after such procedures fail to produce the desired results. Below are some of the best ways to tighten and fix saggy jowls without surgery:

1. Thermage Jawline Tightening

Thermage is a non-invasive (non-surgical) treatment for sagging jowls that relies on radio-frequency energy to tighten and get rid of the loose skin on the jawline and neck. It is also effective for double chin. Thermage involves exposing the skin to short, strong pulses of radio waves that penetrate deep into the sub-dermal layers without causing any harm to the top layer of the skin.

This induces scrunching up of the worn­­­­­-out collagen fibers and stimulate the production of new collagen of better quality over a period of 4-6 months. As the treatment area progressively firms up, the jowls get reduced. And the best part? This is all achieved without surgery.

The main downside to thermage as a jowl removal technique is that it is only effective for skin that is moderately sagged – in early stages of ageing. How to get rid of jowls with Thermage? Well, you don’t need to. Thermage is carried out by plastic surgeons. Check with the one in or near your area.

2. How to Get Rid Of Jowls with Fillers

Injection with dermal filler injection is arguably the best non-invasive treatment for sagging jowls. As you have probably already guessed, fillers are injected into the area of the skin affected by jowls. Fillers help to get rid of jowls by plumping the skin and thus redefining the jawline. However, according to Christopher T. Maloney Jr., MD, a plastic surgeon in Tucson, Arizona, fillers provide a temporary fix for jowls, unlike a face lift.

Among the best dermal fillers for sagging jowls are:

Radiesse: This is one of the most popular dermal fillers. Perhaps best known for wrinkles removal, it is also suitable for non-surgical structural corrections such as jowl lifts. Radiesse gel is composed of calcium hydroxyapatite particles that provide a support structure for the loose skin or fat tissues while replacing and stimulating the formation of new collagen fibers. Once injected into the correction area, the filler is then molded it into the preferred shape.

Sculptra: Sculptra is another common dermal filler for jowls that works by stimulating the production of new collagen. The only downside to Sculptra is that unlike Radiesse, Sculptra doesn’t give instant results, says Nissan Pilest, MD, a board-certified dermatologist specializing in aesthetic dermatology. It, however, makes up for this shortcoming in relatively longer-lasting “more natural” results.

Other fillers that may be used to reduce jowls are:

  • Restylane gel
  • Juvéderm etc. may also be used to augment the appearance of your cheeks and, by extension, your jawlines. Juvéderm is however not best suited for jowls fixing, says Dr. Pilest. Radiesse is a much more robust and better filler for the purpose, he says.

As regards how to get rid of jowls effectively with fillers, the New Beauty website says that it is all about deep injection of the fillers as opposed to superficial injection.

Facial Exercises for Jowls – Do They Work?

Whether or not facial exercises can help to get rid of jowls is a subject of great controversy.

Some experts and beauty sites such as Empowher.com, on one hand, argue that jowl exercises don’t work and are a waste of time since sagging jowls are typically caused by the ageing-related decline in skin elasticity and loss of facial volume coupled with the long-term effect of gravitational pull on the skin. As Empowher.com argues “No amount of jowls exercise can change any of those factors”.

Proponents of jowl exercises, on the other hand, argue that they can help to tone facial, chin, and neck muscles and thus help to reduce the appearance of sagging jowls. As the facial muscles increase in size, it will theoretically reduce some of the loose skin, says Las Vegas-based plastic surgeon Michael Edwards, MD., the former president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. There is one major drawback to this approach though in that it can also cause the appearance of – or worsen – expression lines.

Carolyn Cleaves of carolynsfacialfitness.com shares in this opinion saying that to be effective exercises for sagging jowls must target all the 52 muscles in the face. The neck muscles need to be lifted as well since they are linked to the facial muscles. If you exercise the jowls but neglect the neck, for example, the cheeks may start hanging over the jowl area resulting in (or worsening) marionette lines. You don’t want to get rid of jowls but create or worsen other skin flaws, do you?

Facial exercises have been successfully used to strengthen facial muscles after jaw surgeries and in patients with swallowing and speaking problems. A research that was done at Washington State University also found facial muscles exercise therapy effective in increasing the muscle range (while smiling) in a subject with Parkinson’s.

Still, there aren’t much research studies to support the use of facial exercises for cosmetic purposes e.g. to get rid of jowls. With that said, here are some of the best facial exercises for jowls and double chin reduction for you to try:

1. Chin Tilt Exercise for Jowls and Turkey Neck

Chin tilt is one of those Jowl Exercises that really work – or so it is claimed. It firms up the muscles in the face and neck area, which then helps to lift jowls naturally without surgery. Below is how to get rid of jowls at home with the chin tilt exercise:

  1. Sitting upright with your lips held together, point your chin up until you feel your neck muscle tighten.
  2. Extend your lower lip over your upper lip to the furthest point it can get.
  3. Stay in that position for 5 seconds or a count of 10.
  4. Repeat 5 times.

Do this jowl exercise one or more times per day.

2. Massage Facial Exercise for Jowls

  1. Tighten the corners of your mouth by pulling your cheeks back and downwards a bit. You should feel your lower lip tightening.
  2. While still in that position, massage your jawline muscles from the center outwards.
  3. Repeat this exercise 5 times or so several times daily.

3. Cow Face Jowl Exercise

That is a funny name – I felt that too – but that is what Lavender & Stone refer to it on their website. Cow face helps to firm the muscles in the neck and jawline which then help to get rid of jowls without surgery.

  1. Open your mouth slightly.
  2. Jut your lower jaw as far as you can so that the lower front teeth are positioned over the upper front teeth.
  3. Stretch your right arm and then move your head to your left-hand side.
  4. Raise your head up to the ceiling and stay in that position for 5-10 seconds.
  5. Relax your jaw – with the arm still in its position – and repeat again for three times. You can increase the time for each subsequent exercise rep if you want.
  6. Switch sides.

4. Yawn Double Chin and Sagging Jowl Exercise

As the name suggests, this facial exercise for jowls involves yawning and is effective for not only help to reduce the appearance of jowls but also wrinkles and turkey neck. Below is how to get rid of jowls naturally with the yawn exercise.

  1. With your chin turned upright towards the ceiling, stretch your mouth open as though you are yawning.
  2. Close your mouth slowly over a count of 20. Do not close it completely so that the upper and lower teeth join.
  3. Repeat this sagging-jowls-exercise 3 times daily to get rid of jowls without surgery.

5. Pout Facial Exercise for Loose Jowls

This is yet another easy but powerful exercise for jawline muscles.

  1. While seated upright, raise your chin up towards the ceiling.
  2. Elongate and draw your lips into a pout.
  3. Stay in that position for 5-10 seconds, then relax.
  4. Repeat the exercise 5 to 10 times, two times daily.

Should you decide to go the sagging jowls exercises way, be realistic with your expectations. Remember that no exercise can completely get rid of the signs of ageing and that includes sagging jawline and neck.

How to Get Rid Of Jowls with Makeup

For jowls that are relatively new, you may benefit from clever makeup tricks to hide and minimize them.

I searched how to get rid of jowls with makeup and came across this video which shows you how to create a shadow in your jawline area with Hoola Benefit Bronzing Powder and thus reduce the appearance of jowls:

The following tips can also help you to more effectively hide jowls with makeup:

  • Apply your foundation all the way down to the neckline.
  • Highlight the area above the jawline to draw attention to it and away from the jowls.

Jowls Before and After Pictures

As you can see, there are many ways to get rid of jowls, all with varying degrees of success. The following before and after pictures will show you typical results from some of these jowl reduction options:

Picture of jowls before and after facial exercises
Picture of jowls before and after facial exercises
Picture of Jowls before and after surgery - neck lift
Picture of Jowls before and after surgery – neck lift


Jowls before and after non-surgical jowl lift with Radiesse dermal filler
Jowls before and after non-surgical jowl lift with Radiesse dermal filler

How to Prevent Jowls

We have discussed how to get rid of jowls in great details, now let us discuss some prevention tips to help you keep your jowls and chin from sagging, or at least delay the appearance of jowls as you age:

  1. Keep the muscles around your jawline and neck and face well-toned using the facial exercises discussed above. The pout (puckering) exercise is especially good for prevention of jowls.
  2. Avoid excessive exposure to UV by applying a sunscreen with good SPF e.g. EltaMD. Even on cloudy days. This is especially true if you are genetically predisposed to jowls, e.g. if your parents spot them.
  3. Edwards suggests keeping your skin healthy by applying topical products with ingredients that boost collagen formation (retinol products such as BaeBody Facial Moisturizer) and restore the elasticity of the skin (vitamin C serums such as Truskin Naturals).
  4. Take regular breaks from your computer or smartphone.
  5. Keep the screen of your computer raised enough so that you don’t lean downwards when reading.
  6. Avoid smoking if not completely quit.
  7. Regularly stretch your neck sideways (from either side), holding it for a couple seconds. This is especially beneficial when done during your breaks when working a computer.