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So many options for firming up a sagging jawline

In “I Feel Bad About My Neck,” Nora Ephron expressed the feelings of generations of women who have beenfurtively hiding their necks like turtles in scarves, boas, turtlenecks and chokers. Her blunt advice is to begin concealing the neck at age 43. “Our faces are lies and our necks are the truth. You have to cut open a redwood tree to see how old it is, but you wouldn’t if it had a neck.” Sure, she had a point. But there is an equal source of embarrassment perched right above the neck: the sagging jaw line.   

When you reach your early 40s, you may see that the skin between your neck and jaw, which was once a taut right angle, is now gradually dropping. This “drop zone” is the subject of many heart-to-heart conversations. We have all watched more than one friend (of a certain age) pulling back the skin in front of her ears with two thumbs to demonstrate how much better she would look without the drooping, wavy jaw line. Though she asks, “Tell me the truth, don’t I look better like this?” you answer dishonestly: “Don’t be silly. You look great the way you are.”

The aging jaw and neck are challenges. The neck is comprised of three layers: skin, fat, and muscle. Sagging muscles and bulging fat are situated under the thinnest, crepiest skin on the body (except for eyelid skin). To make matters worse, a thin ropey muscle called platysma tends to split into a V-like formation of two bands that protrude, especially when they contract. To see this problem in action (if you’re over 40) look in a mirror, say “eee,” and watch in horror what happens. A Manhattan plastic surgeon has commented, “Trying to fix all of that with potions and lotions is like waging a two-front war on a sheet of thin ice.” He soggests a neck lift for women in their early to mid-40s who are not ready for a facelift.


Neck Lift/Facelift

The neck lift secures sagging muscles crosswise to the jaw to restore that all-important right angle. Compared with a facelift, sutures are smaller, there is less tightness, and recovery time is much shorter. However, a neck lift has traditionally been a component of a facelift, and many plastic surgeons believe it should remain so. They reason that, anatomically, the muscles of the neck are connected to muscles of the face, so if you try to tighten only the neck muscles, you will do you face a disservice. Along this line of reasoning, even if your big complaint is your neck, you will get better results with a facelift. If you are confused about which procedure is right for you, have a board-certified plastic surgeon, or two, give you feedback while evaluating your very own unique face and neck.


Liposuction and the double chin

The face and neck are usually treated at the simultaneously, often in conjunction with liposuction, to sculpt the area beneath the chin and jaw line. But if you gain weight, the looser skin, weaker muscles, and free falling fat may add to your drop zone. Younger patients who have fatty necks but no significant facial aging may be treated with liposuction alone. There are some plastic surgeons also might use laser or light technology to tighten necks.


Preventive Botox

It has been seen that injecting Botox in areas where wrinkling and creases occur will prevent deeper lines from forming and will help maintain a youthful appearance. It’s better to not have those angry or tired lines develop, so people will not notice that you’ve had any treatments.  Botox can also soften those V-shaped platysma bands.


Your own fat

Another alternative is injecting abdominal fat into the jawline area to provide extra volume. This includes the bonus of your own stem cells. Extra stem cells are sometimes separated from the fat via centrifuge and then added, making the skin glow more and enhancing collagen production.


Trendy approaches

Plastic surgeons were recently interviewed by W Magazine about some trendier devices, such as Thermage and Ulthera. These devices deliver radio frequency, ultrasound and/or infrared lasers to stimulate deep skin layers below the epidermis, an area in which collagen and elastic production slows down as we get older. But according to the surgeons interviewed, the problem is that these devices may not deliver enough energy to have a substantial effect. However, if you have only mild laxity and expect modest results, they may be a good option.


Even though you may favor one of these options, it’s a good idea to keep an open mind when you go for a consultation. Your best bet is to come in for a consultation so your plastic surgeon can suggest the very best procedure for your very own unique facial characteristics.

Workout your skin!

Unless you’re lucky enough to move from one air-conditioned space to another this summer, you’re likely to have had some sweat-related skin problems. Add exercise or outdoor swimming into it, and you’re headed to the land of clogged pores, breakouts and aging from the sun.Shape Magazine has some helpful tips for exercising during the hot, sunny months where skin takes a beating, but this info can also be used all year round in warmer climates and at the gym. The main focus is to keep pores open, skin clean and SPF on whenever you’re outside.

  1. Clean before and after a workout: It’s important when you start sweating excessively that all that moisture and oil has somewhere to go. Clean your face with a cleansing wipe, makeup remover or a plain old face wash to make sure there’s no foundation or residual makeup clogging your pores. After a long sweat session, you want to remove the sweat and oil using the same means. Remember not to use anything too harsh to clean lest you strip off all your moisture.
  2. Keep it off your face: Pull back your hair and grab a towel so you won’t be tempted to touch your face. Hair has oils and products that might cause your skin to react, so tie it up and out of the way. Touching your face after touching weights, equipment or anything you might encounter outside is also not a great idea. Other than causing a breakout, it’s a great way to catch germs. Washing your hands should be the first thing you do after you’re done working out.
  3. Keep cool and fresh: When you’re exercising, it’s important to use the right equipment right? Same goes for your clothes – wear breathable outfits that keep you comfortable. Then, within half an hour after your workout, get in the shower and change your clothes. To avoid drying out or overproducing oil, use a gentle cleanser and moisturize after every shower. Gently exfoliating your face and body 2-3 times a week will make sure the dead skin cells are at bay.
  4. Protect yourself: The sun is the number one culprit for premature aging of the skin. It can cause sunspots, freckling, wrinkles, and for those at high risk, skin cancer. While natural foods and ingredients like carrot and coconut can boost SPF, it’s important to use sunscreen and reapply outside whether you’re exercising, at the pool or just enjoying a weekend barbeque. Try finding a tinted moisturizer with SPF for daily use.

These tips can help keep summer breakouts at bay, but to treat a more serious problem, please see a licensed skin professional associated with a board-certified plastic surgeon, like Dr. Genter, or a dermatologist. Large pores, oily skin, acne and constant breakouts might need a more aggressive skin regimen that might include micro-peels, laser skin resurfacing, skin tightening, chemical peels, and injectables.


Patients May Be Unaware of Body Contouring After Weight Loss

body contouring after weight lossThose who have lost a large amount of weight may not know about their options to tone excess skin, according to Reuters.

Oftentimes after a patient has undergone bariatric surgery which results in dramatic weight loss, they come face to face with the reality of loose skin. When the body has lost such a great amount of weight, the skin has often lost its elasticity and cannot conform to the new, slimmer body shape. Because of this body contouring after weight loss is often necessary for patients to regain ease in their lives.

Plastic surgeons from the ASPS, however, have found that patients may not often know about procedures for body contouring after weight loss or may not be able to afford them. In a paper he presented last month at the annual ASPS conference, plastic surgeon Dr. Jason Spector shared the results of a recent survey he conducted.

According to Spector, nearly 300 patients participated in the survey. Spector found that only about a quarter of the patients who underwent bariatric surgery discussed options for body contouring with their surgeon prior to the bariatric procedure. Just more that 10% of patients went through with body contouring after weight loss.

The main reasons patients gave for not undergoing body contouring after weight loss? Being unaware of their options or the cost of the potential procedure. If they had been better informed, nearly 40% of the patients said they may have made a different decision about body contouring.

Though body contouring after weight loss is categorized by most health insurance providers as a cosmetic procedure, plastic surgeons often regard it as reconstructive. They may compare it to breast reconstruction.

Loose skin after dramatic weight loss can result in a range of health issues for patients. The folds can become infected or develop skin rashes and it can get caught in tight spaces. Patients with loose skin after dramatic weight loss also have difficulty exercising and finding clothing that fits their new frame.

To learn more about body contouring after weight loss, we encourage you to join the mailing list of Philadelphia plastic surgeon Dr. Genter.