This year has been so face-centric that we’ve already had three viral face moments and its only February. There’s talk of the “Ozempic Face,” the phenomenon that examines whether weight-loss injections can accelerate facial aging. Then came the chatter about buccal fat removal and the implications of having chubby cheeks slenderized. We also have nonstop speculation about the overfilled look and what Madonna has or hasn’t done to her face. Faces are on the tips of everyone’s tongues and experts predict that amongst the “too thin” or “too full” debate, it’s the “fit face” that will prevail.
New York dermatologist Ellen Marmur, MD says patients are coming in seeking an answer for a rapidly aging face after weight loss. While the term “Ozempic Face” might be a newfangled way to say volume loss after massive weight loss, it is the reason many people are seeking facial treatments earlier than they would have before. “Once they get down to their goal weight, they start noticing that their skin is sagging which sparks a whole new set of questions,” she explains.
According to New York plastic surgeon Jennifer Levine, MD, the buccal fat removal trend is another reason patients may end up looking too gaunt in the long run. “It’s not a new procedure and I don’t understand why people think it’s such a good idea. We have so many treatments that sculpt the face without permanence.” If you’re in search of a younger, healthier, more vibrant look, removing facial fat isn’t the way she says. “We are coming from a place where we thought adding volume was the answer to everything. Fuller cheeks, fuller lips—I’ve never agreed with an exaggerated aesthetic—but people are in search of something better now. Something that looks more natural.”
What is a “Fit Face?”
Dr. Levine adds that we should be looking at our facial treatments like we would our fitness plan. “Some of these treatments are ones you’ll have to repeat again and continue to do for more than one or two sessions. Just like a workout, you don’t want to overdo it and get fatigued. It is a return to a more sculpted, nuanced rejuvenation.”
So which treatments are the super sculptors to try next? Experts say consider new modalities like EmFace, ultrasound skin tightening, the new longer-lasting neurotoxin, and radio-frequency for collagen stimulation.
Razor Sharp Cheeks
For a more lifted look, a “fit face” calls for a face workout. The EmFace treatment works by combining muscle stimulation and radio frequency to strengthen facial muscles and tone skin. The treatment targets several muscles in the forehead and lower face explains Denver dermatologist Joel Cohen, MD. “These are not muscles that are ever treated with Botox. Emface works the muscles and the fibrous sheath above and below the muscle to tighten.” The radio-frequency energy also induces more collagen and elastin to minimize wrinkles.
For areas that are starting to head south, ultrasound is a great tool for tightening the lower face. Houston dermatologist Jennifer Segal, MD uses both Ultherapy and the newer Sofwave to address this laxity. “Sofwave works great for skin texture and superficial laxity, and is also well suited to areas with thin skin and little subcutaneous tissue, such as around the eye and on the neck and jawline,” she says. “Results will improve over time as the body produces collagen and elastin in response to the cellular injury they induce.”
In the wrinkle-relaxing category, Dr. Levine notes that Daxxify has been a game changer for patients and is part of her “fit face” protocol. “I like to use it to give structure and definition to the jawline,” she explains. “This may involve some procedures to either get rid of some of the fat here or sculpt it. Using neurotoxins in the upper face and the masseter muscles will sculpt, define and improve skin quality and texture.”
Minimal Volume Enhancement
Ultimately, while the “fit face” might call for less volume than aesthetic approaches in the past, there’s still a place for adding back lost volume conservatively when needed. “When you are leaner, you start looking older and you need to look soft again. Filler techniques today that look most natural include injection into the temple area and the lower mid-cheek area,” Dr. Levine explains. By using Sculptra or an injectable adipose fat matrix called Renuva, she says you can get a smoother, lifted look without a chipmunk cheek look.
For the fit face, recreating natural contours is key. “You have to be very delicate about it because obviously you don’t want to be too low or too high, but it’s one way to restore lost volume without creating a pillowy or overdone face,” adds Dr. Marmur.