Photo by Rosie Marks

Taking it on the chin: why are people getting lower facial filler?

Masculinisation, slimming, sculpting, the quest for a “perfect” face, or just the latest surgery trend? We investigate.

We don’t have to break down the appeal of non-permanent cosmetic procedures to anyone. The rise of dermal filler treatments over the last decade has been meteoric.

While a mammoth and consistent increase in people undergoing procedures are evident, there’s clearly still a prejudice facing those who choose to tweak. Take the furore surrounding Bella Hadid’s most recent tell-all interview, where she denied any procedures beyond a nose job she had aged 14, that she’s since gone on to regret. Many fans believe that Hadid’s had more work done, but they’ll have to keep on guessing. Meanwhile, the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery’s global survey suggests the filler boom will keep on booming: 13.6m non-surgical treatments were carried out worldwide in 2019, a figure that increased to 14.4m treatments in 2020, despite much of the year subject to multiple pandemic-induced lockdowns, while Hyaluronic Acid dermal fillers (this includes lip plumping) are documented to have seen a 15.7 per cent increase in use worldwide.

Enter the latest procedure: chin resculpting, a perfect tweak for anyone looking to balance out their profile, feminise or masculianise (depending on where the filler is placed) their face, or add more structure to their visage. I spoke to Dr Ana Mansouri, an aesthetic doctor and trainer, who puts this new focus on chin and jaw sculpting partly down to a general increase in the popularity of dermal fillers within younger patients due to the rise of social media influencers promoting such procedures and the widespread use of unrealistic filters. I have also noticed an increase in the demand for fillers across this range of age groups following the pandemic and subsequent lockdown with the zoom face” phenomena bringing the patient’s signs of ageing to their attention,” Dr Mansouri explains.

Within Eastern culture, there’s a preference for an enhanced feminine look – a softer, more oval face”

DR YOU-JIN CHANG

The specific focus on the chin and jawline area seems to be influenced by the increasingly popular sculpted look: a more defined cupid’s bow, sharper cheekbones and a sturdy jawline to give you that filter feeling. Non-surgical jawline contouring and chin filler seem to be following in the slipstream of the popularity of the lip filler flux. Any good practitioner will tell you that a face is about balance, so for anyone dabbling in large amounts of lip filler, the chin may need to be filled too in order to complement newfound volume to the face, both from the profile and front view. Meanwhile, Buccal Fat Removal, a relatively new treatment, removes excess fat around the face to give a more defined look and searches for the treatment have rocketed by 16 per cent in 2022. The tell-tale signs of jaw and chin filler are a hyper-angular jawline and a teardrop or v‑shaped chin.

So what do the practitioners and injectors make of the relatively new focus on the chin and lower-face area? Who’s taking the needle? And more importantly, why?

Chin filler, better known as chin augmentation, is a lunchtime procedure for most: it takes around 30 to 45 minutes to administer the gel-like substance into the soft tissues of the chin and jaw. The results are almost immediate but, as with all fillers, you have to allow for the odd bit of lumpiness, swelling, bruising or itching. Reasons as to why people get chin or jaw filler can really vary as depending on the placement you’ll get a different effect. Some people are after a more built out masculine jaw; others a more feminine heart-shaped look; and many want to add balance or increase proportionality.

Dr Mansouri draws an interesting line between a spike of interest with the jawline and the fairly new trend of looking snatched” online or extra chiselled, which is so popular amongst Gen Z age groups. So, what does she make of it? As a medical practitioner within the cosmetic industry, it’s a concern to see more and more frequently young patients requesting dramatic enhancements of the chin and jawline,” she explains. This new normal doesn’t respect normal anatomy and causes alienated appearances. We fear these unhealthy beauty ideals will cause psychological and social disadvantages to the patients which they may not have appreciated or considered.”

Former Love Island contestant Molly Mae has spoken in detail about the painful lengths she’s gone to remove jaw and chin filler that she felt made her look worse‘”

I also spoke to Dr You-Jin Chang, an aesthetic doctor at East London’s Skin and Sanctuary, who sees the trend as a natural progression in dermal fillers because of the long-standing Western idealisation of a strong, chiselled jawline as a preferred aesthetic”. Dr Chang points out that within Eastern culture, there’s a preference for an enhanced feminine look – a softer, more oval face”.

Dr Mansouri notes that the oval-face shape is trending with patients looking for jawline slimming or profile balancing (beautification)”, particularly with younger females. There are some precise maths behind the brief as broken down by Dr Mansouri: This is where the jawline definition is enhanced to resemble the ideal female gonial angle (angle of the jaw) of 120 – 130 degrees while keeping the width of the jawline (bigonial width) narrower in comparison to the width of the cheeks (bizygomatic width).” It is important to note these angles are used as guidelines to simulate as closely as safely possible – rather than exactly replicate – in order to maintain someone’s natural looks. Dr Mansouri adds that the chin is often also enhanced to match the width of the nostrils as well as project forward to balance the protrusion of the lips and nose. This creates a facial shape perceived as a more feminine or heart-shaped face and in turn, this appears slimmer.”

Practitioners like Dr Mansouri are clearly preoccupied with maintaining a patient’s natural face shape but it’s clear that the Internet is messing with the idea of what normal” really looks like. British influencer and former Love Island contestant Molly Mae has spoken in detail about the painful lengths she’s gone to remove jaw and chin filler that she felt made her look worse”. Her words, not ours. In an interview for YouTube channel The Diary Of A CEO she explained she felt the chin and jaw filler make it [her chin] look bigger. It looked like I had jowls. I had people call me square head’, blockhead’. People called me Quagmire [from Family Guy].” Dr Mansouri explains that her experience was likely due to someone not necessarily needing that added structure resulting in an overfilling of their lower face, causing unnatural and bulky results which will worsen their bottom heaviness and age or inadvertently widen a female face which may be counterproductive to their desires”. Another practitioner, plastic surgeon Dr Brian Fu, likes patients who are fully informed on the limitations of fillers and potential complications, and who come in with realistic expectations.

I’ve always felt like I have this round, feminine face and that definitely boxes you into a certain category within the gay scene that I find quite limiting”

DAMIEN, 34

For middle-aged and more mature women Dr Mansouri notices more requests for lower face rejuvenation where the chin and the jawline are enhanced around the jowl to disguise the heaviness that occurs here with age and to replace the bony volume loss of the jawline and chin that occurs over time.” The men who visit Dr Mansouri often request a masculinisation” effect. In layman’s terms, these are men looking for those superhero jawlines, where, as Dr Mansouri explains a wider and more defined jawline and chin are created to enhance the ideal male proportions. In this, we aim to increase the width of the jawline (bigonial width) in comparison to the width of the cheeks (bizygomatic width) to create a desirable male proportion. The ideal male angle of the jaw (gonial angle) is considered around 90 – 100 degrees and the width of the chin is similar to the width of the corners of the mouth. This creates the appearance of a more angular and masculine facial shape.”

Damien, a 34-year-old theatre set designer living in East London, decided to have jaw filler this year after much deliberation. I really struggle to accept my pudgy face,” he tells me. I know I’m slim but I’ve always felt like I have this round, feminine face and that definitely boxes you into a certain category within the gay scene that I find quite limiting,” he explains. Damien paid a visit to Dr Fu and is happy with the results. Did it hurt? Not too much, no! The jaw feels relatively insensitive compared with, say, your lips. I did get a little bit of bruising but I iced it and I went out that evening and no one noticed.” Does he see a difference? I definitely do. I can really see it in pictures. I’m really happy with the results and I’ve already booked to go back. I’m growing my beard out too which has made the whole process feel pretty under-the-radar.”

So it’s definitely working for some people. And it’s not that Dr Mansouri disapproves. In fact, her ideal candidate for chin or jaw filler is a patient who naturally lacks bony support or bone structure in the lower face who feels self-conscious about this and therefore would psychologically benefit from enhancing these features. One may have a weak” or receding chin or lack of definition to the angle of the jaw.”

Dr Chang agrees and has experienced the extremely positive effects of chin filler first-hand at Skin & Sanctuary: “[the team] is able to use jaw and chin filler treatments to assist multiple clients going through gender transitions. This is highly rewarding as a simple, non-invasive treatment can truly help to change someone’s life. People now have the option to change their facial structure without invasive surgery. It also helps to know that jaw filler is completely reversible,” she adds.

It’s the younger generation of first-time filler patients that worry Dr Mansouri. As we witness beauty ideals and faces become more and more distorted by the use of surgeries, fillers, filters and photoshop, concerns around overfilling” are real. As Dr Fu asserts, this is a very unregulated industry”. Dr Mansouri suggests that anyone considering chin filler should try and prioritise a subtle result using small amounts of strategically placed fillers, progressively over time, to avoid getting carried away and creating overfilled faces that disregard natural anatomy”.

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