As we get older, the natural production of collagen and elastin in our skin slows down, causing the skin to lose its elasticity and firmness. Facial features such as the cheekbones and jawline become less defined over time.‘Jowls’ – the sagging skin on the lower face and neck – are two of the most disliked aspects of skin aging. The skin under the jaw sags as well, leading to the dreaded ‘double chin’ look. Jowls are a natural sign of the aging process and may be accelerated by factors such as over exposure to the sun and smoking. Changes in bone and muscle structure can also contribute to this condition. Fat accumulation may also occur. There is also a genetic factor influencing the mechanics of these changes.

Common symptoms of jowls include:

Sagging skin: Skin that appears loose around the lower face and jawline

As the skin ages, it loses its ability to produce collagen and elastin, which are necessary components for keeping the skin plump and firm. Over time, areas of the face such as the cheeks, will also suffer a loss of fatty subcutaneous tissue (other areas may gain fatty tissue.) These factors cause the skin to become thin and sag. Factors such as sun exposure and smoking can greatly speed up the aging process and cause fine lines and wrinkles to develop prematurely.

Good skin care and adequate protection against the sun are the first steps in treating aging skin. Use a gentle cleanser to keep the skin clean and clear. Toners can help tighten pores and give the skin a more firm appearance. The regular use of a quality moisturizer is the first basic step in keeping the skin adequately hydrated. Skin that is well cared for and hydrated appears noticeably smoother and even textured. Combined with daytime application of a sheer foundation, it will vastly improve your overall complexion. Implement a nighttime skin treatment just before bed to allow your skin to soak up the nourishing ingredients and help regenerate your skin’s appearance. Also, try incorporating daily sun protection with an SPF-rated moisturizer to reduce further sun damage to your skin.

Keeping fit and maintaining a healthy weight as you get older will reduce your chances of developing jowls. You can also prevent your skin from prematurely aging by protecting it against the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Limit sun exposure: Reducing your time in the sun is perhaps the easiest way to avoid damage to your skin caused by UV rays. When outdoors, set a time limit and seek shade when necessary. Also keep in mind that UV radiation is the strongest between the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Use Sunscreen: Sunscreens are an essential part of protection against the sun. Look for sunscreens that are labeled “Broad Spectrum”. They are often the most effective and offer protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Make sure to apply generously and frequently.

Cover and protect: Wrap-around sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats and clothing that covers your arms and legs, can offer extra protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Many over-the-counter treatment options can help diminish some of the signs of skin aging. Look for anti wrinkle and skin-firming creams that contain active ingredients such as alpha-hydroxy acids, copper peptides and antioxidants, which can tighten your skin, making you look visibly younger. Moisturizers that contain silicone, can also help fill in, and seal fine lines. This treatment creates a more even surface for make-up application and the effect is often long-lasting.

A doctor may prescribe a topical cream that contains retinoids, such as Tretinoin and Tazarotene, which can encourage collagen production and help smooth out lines in the skin.

Cosmetic procedures such as facelifts and liposuction are often used to shape the face and improve the appearance of jowls. Radiofrequency treatments are also used to improve the appearance of the skin.