Practitioners discuss the importance of a cocktail approach to lower face ageing, sharing their tips and techniques
Studies have shown that while younger women are mostly concerned about the look of their bodies, older women tend to be more dissatisfied with changes related to facial ageing, particularly in the lower face.1 As discussed in the previous feature, multiple, interacting changes to the soft tissues and skeleton cause the visible signs of ageing in the lower face.
Dr Nick Lowe says contributing factors including smoking, acne and genetic factors. “Smokers have been found to appear five to ten years older than non-smokers of the same age, with increased sagging and more lower facial lines. Previous inflamed acne on the lower face increases collagen and elastin damage and contributes to sagging around the chin and mouth. Orbicularis oris movements such as lip puckering and pursing create wrinkles. Familial thin lips create a higher risk of barcode lines as they have less resistance to the folding of skin around the lips, and an inherited small or posterior chin (micrognathia) will also add to sagging of the jawline. Cosmetic dentistry, if done well, can considerably improve perioral ageing.”As the causes of visible ageing in the lower face are complex, reversing age-related changes using non-surgical methods may require a ‘cocktail’ approach, involving topical treatments, toxins, dermal fillers and skin tightening.
For ageing around the mouth due to loss of volume, fillers are the treatment of choice. Says Dr Lowe, “In my opinion, only hyaluronic acid fillers are safe to use in the lips and perioral area. I prefer to use a product which includes a local anaesthetic. This means choosing from the Juvederm, Restylane or Emervel families. I use a very fine, 30G cannula for the vermillion border then use the needle to deposit a small amount of dermal filler into the body of the lip and massage it smooth. I like Volbella as it is soft and produces little swelling at the injection site. However it may not last as long as other fillers. “I use approximately 1cc in the lower lip and a third of this in the upper to maintain good proportions. For patients with thinner lips, I’ll consider refining the effect with a maximum of one further syringe four to six weeks later. A slower improvement is more discreet for the patient, is less likely to cause bruising and increases the persistence of the filler, probably due to less inflammation, swelling and oedema in the area.”
Ageing is often associated with a downturned, ‘sad’ mouth, which develops due to descent
of surrounding tissue, habitual expressions and loss of volume. The use of botulinum toxin in
the lower face, in particular to relax the depressor anguli oris muscles to create lift at the oral commissures is increasingly popular. However, Dr Mervyn Patterson warns that special care must be taken when treating the lower face. “If treatment of the depressor anguli oris is unequal on both sides the smile will be asymmetrical and difficult to correct. Slight diffusion laterally of toxin in the mentalis will affect the depressor labia inferioris which leads to a very unusual looking movement of the lower lip.”
Aesthetic nurse Sharon Bennett says, “To avoid asymmetry, when targetting the perioral area and the depressor anguli oris it is important to avoid the orbicularis oris, which would affect the sphincter and closure of the mouth with reduction in ability to pucker, while injections given too medially will affect the depressor labii inferioris between the DAO and the mentalis. This will cause a flattening of the contour of the lower lip, an asymmetric smile and reduction in the ability to purse the lips. You can normally palpate the DAO by getting the patient to contract the muscle for example asking them to pronounce the letter ‘e’.” Dr Mervyn Patterson warns that, “Over zealous orbicularis oris injections impair the ability to pronounce ‘p’s and ’b’s. The correct procedure only lasts about 6 weeks.”
I use the tower technique when injecting in the zygomatic arch, placing little towers of one of the thicker fillers, Dr Nick Lowe
Surgeon Adrian Richards adds that excessive relaxation of the depressor anguli oris muscle (DAO) may lead to the elevation of the corners of the mouth. This occurs because of the action of their antagonist levator anguli oris muscles, which elevate the corners of the lip. With less resistance to the levator muscle, the lips can curl up in an unnatural ‘joker smile’. This may be a particular risk with older patients because the philtrum area tends to lengthen with age, which lowers the central part of the upper lip. Says Richards, “The key is to be very conservative and very superficial. I would use 2 to 2.5 units of Botox, and inject just into the skin, allowing the toxin to diffuse into the muscle.”
If a patient has a strong platysmal muscle pulling down the angle of the mouth giving jowls and marionette lines, Dr Lowe says, “I inject a maximum of ten units of Botox
or equivalent into the muscle, divided equally between the right and left sides of
the platysmal bands.” Lower facial ageing may also be caused by volume loss in the mid-face, so don’t ignore the use of lifting fillers injected into the lateral cheek and over the zygomatic bone to lift the lower face and mouth area.
Dr Lowe says, “I use the tower technique when injecting in the zygomatic arch, placing little towers of one of the thicker fillers, injected vertically right on the periapical of the zygomatic arch with either SubQ or Voluma. Sculptra treatments can lift the mid-face but it is important to avoid the area around the mouth as it appears that the action of the muscles in this area concentrate Sculptra into small areas, which may result in nodules.”
However, Dr Patterson says, “There is only so much lift one can be achieved with fillers, and lifting becomes more difficult with more aged faces without creating an over-inflated look to the cheek. Early intervention is best and patients should be informed when surgery is the best answer to their concerns.”
For early signs of jowling, Dr Lowe says a more youthful jawline appearance can be achieved using a hyaluronic dermal filler injected into the indentation just below the chin and before the jowl. “Used in combination with a thicker filler to lift the cheek skin this can be extremely effective, In addition, Nefertiti injections of Botox along the jawline can be effective in cases where the platysmal bands are pulling downwards and Thermage can be used above the jawline and to the lateral and mid cheeks to tighten.” The growing desire of patients for non-surgical skin lifting has led to the development of more skin tightening treatments. One of the newest to the market is 3D-skintech used by Dr Martyn King, which uses tri-polar radio frequency for painless skin tightening. Dr Lowe says, “I would consider radio frequency lifting and tightening lateral to the marionette and nasolabial lines. I use Thermage or Intracel using both monopolar and bipolar frequencies.” Dr Rakus advises, “Combining volumising with radio frequency treatments such as Thermage or Pelleve, or ultrasound therapy such as Ulthera can be very effective in helping to rejuvenate the lower face and oral commissures.” Dr Lowe also recommends the Venus Freeze (a combined radio frequency magnetic resonance system) to tighten skin sagging in this area. “Studies conducted by US dermatologist Dr Neil Sadik and presented at the 5-continent Congress of Dermatology in Cannes in 2013 are very compelling. The treatment is painless but patients need at least five or six sessions a week or so apart to see long lasting results, plus a top up treatment three to six months later.”
Dermatologist Dr Ariel Haus uses the Sublime skin tightening system on lower face folds, sagging jowls, neck and crepey skin. Sublime uses bipolar radio frequency and infrared light and requires three to five sessions spaced three to four weeks apart for best results. He says, “It is a comfortable treatment with zero downtime, making it a good choice for those who prefer a non-surgical option. It also gives a temporary instant lift, and I normally show patients half the face done before completing the treatment and they are very positive about the change.” Endymed 3DEEP is another pain-free option for skin tightening, with the energy delivered via multiple phase – controlled skin electrodes. Surgeon Chris Inglefield describes it as “safe and effective.” For ‘pebbly’ or puckered chins, Adrian Richards recommends injecting either the central area or both lateral sides of the mentalis muscle with 2-2.5 units of Botox or equivalent.