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What makes a great jawline?

And how to get one…

Last week we went into detail on the mewing craze, focussing on what the TikTok trend realistically can and can’t do for your jawline. This week? We’ll focus on what makes a great jawline and – if you're someone who is looking to make a significant change – what your options are. We’ll look at the good, the ugly, and the outright bad.

Think our obsession with jawlines is new? Think again. From ancient Greek and Roman statues to Michelangelo’s David, we have a preoccupation with a strong jaw, particularly the gonial angle (where the jawbone meets the ear lobe). Image by wirestock for Freepik

A hallmark of male beauty that has been surprisingly constant throughout history is a strong jawline. From classical Greek and Roman sculptures to Michelangelo’s David, on to our modern movie stars and models, a strong, square jawline is considered the ideal for men. In fact, we have mathematical formulas (the golden ratio 1:1.618, and the Phi mask) that dictate what angles and features we (generally) find attractive. And for men (and women) there’s an ideal jaw (mandible) angle. 

That’s not to say that every beautiful face falls perfectly into a mathematical equation, and it would be wrong to think so. There are many factors that determine beauty – uniqueness of 

features, expressions of personality, and harmony with other features – that all contribute to making a face we find attractive. There are plenty of examples where faces are artificially altered to fit the golden ratio…only to find that we prefer the originals. 

Beauty is complicated and we like a little imperfection. 

However, where the jaw is concerned, there are some good guidelines. 

The ideal gonial angle for men and women ranges between 120-130 degrees, with a preference for a sharper, squarer angle for men and a softer more V-shape for women – but that’s not the whole story. Facial balance and other angles of the face play a huge role in determining what looks good. Many celebrities and models (male and female) can look great with a more masculine or feminine jaw angle. Image by master1305 for Freepik

 

All about the angles

The angle of your mandible where your jaw meets your ear (gonial angle) has an ideal range for men and women of 120-130 degrees. If you spend a bit of time googling faces you find attractive, there’s a good chance that angle falls in that range. There’s a slight preference for a sharper, squarer angle in men and a softer more V-shape in women – but that’s not the whole picture. There are plenty of examples out there of men and women with less or more feminine angles who we find beautiful. The range is really a mathematical guideline, not a set-in stone rule. 

What are some realistic ways you can improve your jaw?

As we discussed last week, the bones of the face are pretty set after the teen years. Repositioning the jaw through orthodontics is a possibility for the right patient (where malocclusion or a bite issue is present, such as an underbite) but otherwise, you’re looking at cosmetic intervention. Those come in a few different flavours (each has its own benefit, risk, and disadvantages) and can both increase and decrease the size of the jaw.  

 Surgical Implants: Cosmetic surgery can definitely be an option for those wanting to alter the shape and projection of the jaw significantly and can include both jaw and chin implants. A surgeon determines the best size of implant and positions them to give the desired shape. The risks are comparable to any other cosmetic surgery procedure, but for the right patient it can lead to a nice result. 

 

Injectable fillers and botulinum toxin are both options for increasing or decreasing the size of the jaw respectively, but don’t expect drastic results – less is more in this case and chasing extreme looks can come with complications not mentioned (or obvious) in those viral videos. (Image by senivpetro for Freepik)

Injectable Fillers: Another option made popular on TikTok and Instagram for people looking to increase the size of their jaw and sharpen the gonial angle are injectable fillers such as hyaluronic acid, Sculptra (poly-l-lactic acid), and Radiesse (calcium hydroxylapatite). Though they are a great tool in the toolbox – and when used well give a nice result – there’s a risk of looking ‘doughy’ if too much is used. Hyaluronic acid in particular attracts water, meaning those sharp defined jaws seen in the after photos can soften over the following weeks and months, and there’s also the risk of nodules if the product isn’t used in the right way. It’s something to keep in mind if you’re pursuing this route. 

Bone Shaving (osteotomy): For women (and men) looking to decrease the size of their jaw in pursuit of a more feminine V shape, bone shaving has become a popular treatment in places like South Korea (feminization surgery). It’s performed under general anesthetic where a laser saw or micro saw is used to reshape the bone. Like most surgeries, it has its place in the medical arena (bone deformities, severe underbites, etc.) but cosmetically some consider it extreme. It carries a long recovery period (on average a year) and potential serious complications include infection, nerve, muscle damage. 

For folks considering this surgery, it might be well worth looking into the next option for reshaping the jaw first…

 

Inexpensive Prescription Hair Loss Medication Delivered To Your Door.

Botulinum Toxin: If you want to see if a smaller, more V-line shaped jaw is for you, botulinum is a great place to start. Its safety profile is fantastic (no risk of vascular occlusions here), is completely reversible (it wears off in 3-6 months) and is relatively inexpensive compared to the other options on this list. By partially paralysing the masseter muscles, it causes them to shrink. The upkeep for ‘masseter Botox’ is about twice a year and has the added benefit of being a potential treatment for those who grind or clench their teeth at night. It can even be used in the chin to relax the muscles, sometimes making the chin appear slightly longer. The biggest drawback to this treatment? If you like it, you’re looking at a twice a year commitment.   

Submental Fat Liposuction and Neck Lifts: If the size and shape of a jaw is great but definition and contour is where they seek improvement, a neck lift, facelift, or even submental fat liposuction could give them the improvement they’re after. What procedure will work really depends on how much laxity there is, so a good consultation with a qualified surgeon who performs these procedures regularly is key. As to some of the other options for reducing fat under the jaw, such as cryotherapy treatments and fat ‘melting’ injections (deoxycholic acid)? They do come with risks and results can be unpredictable. Again, consultations really are key. Weight loss can also have profound effects on the face, so people currently in the process of managing their weight may want to hold off on treatments until they’re happy and stable before pursuing a cosmetic treatment. 

 

A beard can be a great tool to make the jaw appear more defined. For those conscientious about their facial hair density? There are options. (Image by Freepik)

Beards: Another way to alter the appearance of the jaw for men is with beard growth. It can alter and add shadows and make the jaw look more chiselled. For some men wanting to alter their jawline, it’s a nice option. 

For those who struggle with facial hair growth? There are medical therapy options out there and even hair transplants to the beard area which can improve density and appearance. Visit feelconfident.com and City Facial Plastics if you’re curious about exploring any of these options. 

A (reluctant) note about steroid use: I hesitated to mention this one, but in case anyone stopping by is even considering this…

Yes, anabolic steroid abuse can cause bones of the face to grow. It’s a no good, horrible idea.

First off, under no circumstances should anyone – athletes, fitness enthusiasts, or people hoping to make their faces more masculine – take anabolic steroids. The pitfalls are well documented and many. In short, it’s a great way to cut your life short. Folks who abuse steroids often think they know what they’re doing. They don’t. That out of the way, yes, anabolic steroid abuse does correlate with increased jaw size. A review of Olympic and world championship athletes who tested positive for doping showed a higher face width ratio when compared to their non-doping athlete counterparts. It has to do with the unnatural increase in testosterone and growth hormones and can come with big problems. Namely, because it’s so unnatural it’s uneven and unpredictable, and – you guessed – it's permanent. Women, in particular, who have abused steroids for years often will seek out cosmetic help later on to have bony growths removed. 

Final Note

Despite the trends out there on social media, I hope the takeaway is that the best jawline for you is one that’s balanced for your face and natural. Those extreme looks? Often, they’re heavily filtered and only look great in pictures. No one needs any of these procedures and beauty is very multifaceted. If you are considering altering your appearance, remember to be safe and explore your options with qualified experts. 

 

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Written by
Kristi Charish
Edited by
Dr. Gary Linkov
The content of this newsletter is for entertainment and educational purposes only. This content is not meant to provide any medical advice or treat any medical conditions. Patients must be evaluated by an appropriate healthcare provider on an individual basis and treatment must be tailored to meet that patient’s needs. Results and particular outcomes are not guaranteed.
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