Laser Surgery for Jowls?

I had laser surgery about 12 years ago on my entire face. I got a staph infection and toxic blood poisoning. I ended up on a respirator for about 3 weeks in the ICU. My lungs kept filling up with fluid. I smoked two and a half packs of cigarettes per day, and I drink beer daily. I am now 47 and starting to get sagging jowls; I'm wondering, what risk would I be in by having laser for jowls only? Is there be a better alternative without surgery?

Doctor Answers 10

Surgery is not for you unless you make lifestyle changes.

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Angie, you were 35 years old when you had laser resurfacing and ended up with a life-threatening infection, ICU and respirator for 3 weeks, and now at age 47 you use alcohol daily and smoke 2 1/2 packs of cigarettes daily.

If your health were better, and you weren't a smoker, sagging jowls could be treated by facelift, or perhaps lower facelift. There is no laser that will tighten loose skin, just smooth the surface. Laser treatment would just give you smooth jowls, not wrinkled ones. Seriously. If you have loose skin, you must have a skin-tightening procedure to improve this area. Tightening the SMAS beneath the facial skin can further improve the result and increase the length of improvement.

But, I would really encourage you to stop alcohol use, stop nicotine use, start exercise and diet if you are not at a proper weight, and use the cigarette and beer money for your plastic surgery!

Angie, I grew up in Kansas and went to Medical school in Kansas City; Kansas folks are strong and fine people! I am really concerned for your health and encourage you to seek help with your addictions before considering any kind of elective surgery. Best wishes!

Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 263 reviews

A healthy life style supports healthy skin

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Lasers  and fillers can all help with sagging skin if you do not want an operation. Nevertheless, good effects of a medical treatment last longer with a healthy life style. 

Robert Kasten, MD
Mainz Dermatologic Surgeon

Lasers Not Worth It for Jowls

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Most likely the biggest risk factor for your prior horrific staph infection is that you were a heavy smoker and also may have used excess alcohol. Because you are continuing to have this unhealthy lifestyle you would be a bad candidate for surgery as the risk to your health is too great. Laser for jowls only will give you little if any improvment. On the otherhand if you can get your life in order and lead a healthy one - stop smoking, more than one drink per day, exercise, normal weight - you would probably be a reasonable candidate for facial rejuvenation.

Laser Surgery

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Smoking will increase your risks. A surgery is a big risk for you.  Anyone who wants to do your surgery is taking you and them on a very dangerous journey until you can reduce your risk profile.

Vivek Bansal, MD
Danville Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Laser Surgery will Not Help Jowls

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My first observation is as follows:  if you are still smoking, don't do anything.  A Facelift (properly performed) should significantly improve the contour of your jaw and neckline.  There is no laser or laser technique that will significantly improve jowls and I would be careful of any advertising which implies this.

Stephen Prendiville, MD
Fort Myers Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 104 reviews

Laser Surgery will NOT correct Jowls

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I have never heard of a CO2 Facial laser resurfacing resulting in Sepsis (bacterial blood poisoning) with Pulmonary Edema (lungs being flooded by fluid). Such complications MAY be seen in major surgery and only when the intestine leaks or in severely immunocompromised people (AIDS, cancer etc).

Your smoking history suggests you have some level of lung disease (COPD) and drinking daily may suggest you have some liver damage as well. A thorough evaluation, probably a treadmill examination, would be wise to evaluate your medical fitness.

Botox, fillers and lasers are COMPLETELY a waste of your money and time. They are useless with jowling.

Jowling happens due to facial sagging and emptying and can ONLY be adequately reversed with a Facelift procedure of which there are several.

Dr. Peter Aldea

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon

Filler injection more helpful for sagging jowls than Laser surgery

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Sagging jowls come from loss of volume along marionette areas along corners of mouth as well as the overall diminised volume along upper 1/2 of the face. Other than surgical facelift, your best bet is to consider combination of localized filler injection along marionette areas and cheek augmentation with Radiesse or Sculptra. Fractional CO2 laser resurfacing can be helpful to tighten the jowl sagging but should be performed in conjunction with judicious filler injection to achieve optimal outcome.

William Ting, MD
Bay Area Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Laser surgery will not help jowls

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After your experience I would not even think of doing laser surgery. You had laser resurfacing which is a skin treatment.

Although laser resurfacing can tighten skin slightly, the laser cannot sufficiently tighten skin to lift jowls.

A facelift is required to lift the jowl, but you would have to stop smoking completely and undergo an exam and clearnace by your internest before you would be considered a candidate for surgery.

Laser surgery for jowls?

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There's laser surgery where a laser is used to treat the surface of the skin and then there is laser surgery where a laser is used to cut - dissect below the skin surface. Please look at my other laser facelift question responses to help you understand the differences and explore your options.

Michael Kulick, MD, DDS
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Laser surgery and jowls

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I am not sure what kind of laser surgery you had in the past, but before undergoing any other procedures, you probably should get a complete medical workup and clearance from your doctor for any future surgery.  Jowls are usually treated by having a facelift.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.