jowl massage

Using a patented device, researchers have shown that jowl massage by mechanical stimulation of the face can trigger biochemical mechanisms that lead to skin remodeling in the aging face.

To be reminded that time is indeed undefeated, one just needs to look in the mirror.  Some of us simply accept the fact and hope to age gracefully, but there will always be those who will refuse to give up, and will look for all those measures that can hopefully arrest—if not reverse—the signs and symptoms of aging.

It is known that aging in the face is due to a combination of different factors.  As we grow older, numerous changes in the composition and nature of our skin occur—the surface layers (epidermis) becomes thinner, which results in drier, rougher skin that is more prone to bruising and damage.  There is also a loss of collagen, the proteins responsible for skin structure, and more importantly of elastin, which accounts for the skin’s capability to spring back and maintain its shape.  This thinning and slackness, along with a corresponding loss in muscle tone, as well as, a redistribution of the underlying fat (less around the cheekbones, more around the jowls and chin) all contribute to the structural changes our faces undergo as we age.  Adding on the wrinkles that result from a lifetime of pulling facial muscles, and graying (or thinning) hair, then you have all the “dreaded” characteristics of an old face.

Countless beauty regimens throughout the years have stressed the importance of facial massage, as this ostensibly stimulates the face into ‘tightening’ itself up. Scientists have in fact validated this long-held belief, as it has been found that mechanical stimulation indeed triggers cells in our skin called fibroblasts, into activity.  These specialized cells then send out biochemical signals to manufacture more collagen and elastin, which in turn can restore some of the lost elasticity of the “damaged” skin.  What has been a fertile area of research is how to effectively harness these restorative capabilities of these cells, so that signs of aging can be reversed without the need for invasive surgical procedures.

With the proliferation of devices that claim these benefits, few are willing to undergo scientific scrutiny.  However, in a 2015 article in the journal Clinical Interventions in Aging, a trademarked mechanical stimulation device (Mecano-StimulationTM) was used in a randomized, blinded study to determine its effectivity.  Thirty patients between the ages 35-50 with visible signs of facial aging (sagging cheeks and jowls) were treated with the massage device on one-half of their faces.  After 24 jowl massage sessions with the machine, microscopic biopsies were taken on both sides to determine if there were indeed any cellular changes upon completion of the regimen.

The study claims that electron microscopy showed increased fibroblast activity in the treated sides and more importantly, signs of dermal remodeling as evidenced by corresponding increases in collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid—the building blocks of the skin. Correlating these objective findings with observed clinical improvement and patient satisfaction, the researchers conclude that their device can be an effective technique for facial rejuvenation without the need for any medication or invasive procedures.

This study indicates that for the Mecano-StimulationTM, there is indeed proof of improvement at the cellular level, but how this translates to actual clinical outcomes remains unclear.  For devices and techniques such as these, the true test is patient satisfaction:  even when presented with ‘scientific proof’, do patients perceive actual improvement, and are they willing to come back for more procedures?

As it is, devices and techniques, scientific evidence notwithstanding, can only delay and alleviate the symptoms of aging. And until that mythical fountain of youth is indeed discovered, the choice remains to either accept growing old or to keep on looking (and perhaps, massaging).

Written By: Jay Martin, M.D.

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