Sagging skin of the face is one of the major visible signs of aging in men and women. The face loses roundness, and the jawline begins drooping, producing jowls in many people. Firm, youthful jawlines become replaced with soft, irregular skin on the face. A resource provided by the American Academy of Dermatology states that intrinsic aging, or genetic factors, and extrinsic aging, or environmental factors, are the major causes of jowls.
Genetics, an intrinsic factor, causes jowls in many people. You can find out your predisposition to getting jowls by looking at your family tree. If older family members have developed jowls, you will likely see the appearance of jowls as you get older. Werner’s syndrome, another rare inherited disorder, makes sufferers appear elderly in their 30s. The International Registry of Werner Syndrome says that in addition to developing jowls, people with this condition often die in their 40s and 50s. Except for Werner syndrome, extrinsic aging plays more of a role in causing jowls than genetics.
Gravity, the force that keeps things planted on the Earth, affects the aging body as well. Changes to the aging body make it more susceptible to the sagging skin. As the body loses elasticity, gravity causes jowls to form and other areas of the face to droop, especially as people approach their 50s.
An American Academy of Dermatology resource states that spending a few minutes in the sun causes jowls by damaging the layers of the skin. Skin looks leathery and does not maintain elasticity. As skin looses elasticity, jaws begin drooping. Long-term exposure to the skin continues breaking down collagen, so wearing sun block and protective head coverings decreases jowl formation.
An American Academy of Dermatology resource says that smoking causes jowls, even in people as young as their 20s. People who smoke more than 10 cigarettes a day for at least 10 years develop jowls faster than nonsmokers. The American Academy of Dermatology cites a 2002 study in which the skin of smokers in their 20s was microscopically analyzed. Many of the smokers already showed signs that their skin had lost some of its elasticity.
You may not consider sleeping in the same position every night as a cause of jowls. However, sleeping on your sides affects the skin of the chin and cheeks. The American Academy of Dermatology says that people who sleep on their backs see less sagging jaws than people who sleep with their faces pressed against a pillow.