Although often felt to be a handsome quality for a man’s face, a square looking jaw is not usually thought to be a desirable feature for a woman. Having a square look to the lower face is definitely more of a masculine look. And having a round, full face can be kind of cute when you’re five years old – but not when you’re past twenty-five! On the other hand, an oval-shaped face is thinner, softer, and looks more genteel, and more feminine. So, does someone with a square, round or wide looking lower face need major facial contouring or jaw surgery to look more elegant? Actually, a narrower, more oval, and more feminine look to the face can be easily achieved with a simple, 5 minute office treatment! No surgery – just Botox®!
A face looking full, round, square and wide is often a result of a relative jaw (masseter) muscle hypertrophy- overthickened, overdeveloped jaw muscles – which lie over the outside edge and angle of the jaw. Bite down with your teeth together while holding your hand on the side of your jaw. You’ll easily feel just how strong this powerful muscle is as it bulges when you clench down. This is the same muscle that is often overactive and overdeveloped in those with night time teeth/jaw “grinding” and similarly so in some cases of those suffering from TMJ Syndrome. The muscle can develop tremendous and recurring pressure on the temperomandibular joint (the TMJ, located just in front of the ear), and on the teeth, and the jaw leading to TMJ Syndrome and chronic headaches. The muscle may start out just being naturally thick and strong (i.e. genetically thick, such as is seen in many Asian women) or it eventually becomes that way from being overused and overly active (like a jaw muscle “on steroids”). The bottom line: it is the robust thickness of the masseter muscle which creates the wide look to the jawline.
This all too hearty and thickened muscle on the sides of the jaw can be thinned out and settled down with Botox® treatments. Botox® works on facial wrinkles the same way – it relaxes the muscles, and makes them much less active. The muscles learn to enjoy their decreased activity and they start to actually get thinner and progressively less active over time. In the case of a wrinkle, we see smoother skin. In the case of the masseter muscle, we see a more narrow look to the jawline and a more oval look to the face! A more refined, delicate, and less masculine look. A single treatment session will likely yield a visible change in facial shape within about two weeks that should last for some 3 – 6 months. Often, the thinning out of the jaw muscle also simultaneously creates a bit more visibility and prominence to the cheekbones, further accentuating a more feminine and aesthetically pleasing look. With repeated injection treatments over a year or two, the jaw muscle is more and more prone to staying thinner on its own and so, therefore, is the more oval facial shape! One potential side effect – some slight weakness with chewing pressures. But with a less strong, thinner masseter muscle, we often see a decrease in TMJ symptoms, headaches, and less of the side effects of teeth grinding as well!
Some patients truly do have a wide jaw or thick jaw bones. Botox® might not work quite as well in those situations where actual surgery might be needed. But Botox® will still help – and might make enough of an improvement to be more than a reasonable alternative to having the jaw surgically cut apart and partly removed! Softening the facial shape with Botox® is just one more of the many nice and simple things plastic surgeons can now offer to improve one’s look – without surgery!
Dr. Lyle Back is originally from New York City, receiving his medical and surgical training at Rutgers Medical School, Cooper Hospital – University Medical Center, and Ohio State. He is Board Certified in General Surgery (ABS) and Plastic Surgery (ABPS). He specializes in the full range of the most modern and state of the art facial cosmetic surgery procedures and non-surgical cosmetic enhancement techniques available today.