Patients often complain about heaviness of their lower face as they get older. Part of what they are seeing is skin laxity and descent of facial fat. Another part of this heaviness effect, however, is an enlargement and squaring of the angle of the jaw. With time, many people develop an enlargement of their masseter muscle, the main muscle responsible for chewing. Either through genetic predisposition or through continuous exercise via teeth grinding and clenching, or both, the muscle gets bigger.
As the masseter muscle enlarges and the jawline becomes more square and pronounced, a woman’s face becomes more masculine in appearance. Both men and women may appear tense because they look like they are constantly clenching their teeth. Asian patients in particular are genetically predisposed to having a strong jaw. Softening the angular appearance of that strong jaw gives them a more oval and gentle shape to their face.
A non-surgical option for patients seeking to diminish the robust appearance of their jawline is with anti-wrinkle injections. The same medication used to treat wrinkles can be injected into the masseter muscles causing them to weaken and become smaller with time. The other effect is that a weaker muscle is not able to grind like it used to so any nighttime grinding habit is quickly broken.
What does the treatment involve?
Injections are performed into each masseter muscle with a very fine needle and feel like a small “pinch.” A topical numbing cream and ice pack can be applied before your treatment in order to minimize the “pinch” sensation. The procedure takes only a few minutes.
How long will it take for the treatment to take effect?
Many patients will start to see the effect of decreased muscle activity in the injected area in 3-5 days. Most patients see full effect after 1 week but it can take up to 2 weeks.
How long do the results last?
Results last an average of 3 months. Patients usually require 2-3 treatments for the masseter muscles to decrease in size and lead to a jawline slimming effect.
Is there any after-treatment care required after anti-wrinkle injections?
Patients should experience little to no down time afterward. Patients should avoid applying pressure to the injection area for about 24 hours, which includes not massaging it, to help ensure that the cosmetic doesn’t migrate elsewhere. Patients can also keep any slight bruising to a minimum by keeping their blood pressure low for several hours after the injections. This includes staying away from strenuous exercise, saunas, or hot tubs.
Are there any risks and complications associated with anti-wrinkle injections?
While anti-wrinkle injections have been proven extremely safe, there is a risk of side effects as with all treatments and procedures. These include injection-related side effects such as discomfort or pain at the injection site and bruising. Allergic reactions have been reported which include itching, rash, hives, wheezing, asthma-like symptoms, or dizziness.
It is theoretically possible for the cosmetic’s effects to spread to other areas of the body, though there has never been a confirmed case of such a serious side effect in relation to the use of the product in treating a square jaw. Still following an injection, you should seek medical help if you develop difficulty swallowing, speaking, or breathing or you experience overall muscle weakness, vision problems, voice changes, or loss of bladder control.
Who should not undergo anti-wrinkle injection treatment?
- Anyone with a known allergy to any ingredients in anti-wrinkle injections or who has had an allergic reaction to anti-wrinkle injections in the past
- Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Patients with muscle or nerve conditions such as ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), myasthenia gravis, or Lambert-Eaton syndrome