One of the most ubiquitous signs of youth is a sharp, defined jawline. However, as we age, the muscle that holds the neck tissues in place loosens and sags.

Because the neck is an area prone to fat storage, as well as the breakdown of collagen and elasticity, it can often look as though the jaw and chin have merged into the neck. However, some of today 's cosmetic innovations mean the signs of aging that affect the jaw line can be addressed with both non-invasive and surgical options.

1. THERMAGE

A safe, non-invasive radiofrequency procedure that 's proven to help smooth, tighten and contour skin for a younger- looking appearance, Thermage uses heat to break down fat modules and tighten skin in this area.

Patients will start seeing improvement four to six weeks after each treatment — most people require four to six treatments for best results — which should occur every six to eight weeks. Patients are advised to take ibuprofen and/ or Tylenol before the procedure to lessen the deep pain they may experience. The dermatologist may also give patients a stronger pain medication to make the experience more comfortable.

The procedure, which costs $300 to $500 per treatment, can feel like a deep sunburn after the fact, and can cause swelling for 24 hours following treatment, but delivers long- lasting results. "It should be good for at least five years," says Dr. Benjamin Barankin, MD. FRCPC, a Toronto-based dermatologist, and medical director of the Toronto Dermatology Centre. "The end result is a tightening of the skin and a reduction of excess fat or bulging."

2. SKINTYTE

A procedure that utilizes ultrasound technology to rejuvenate the area, SkinTyte breaks down fat modules and tightens skin. It 's less painful than Thermage (think mosquito bite versus bee sting), but requires the same amount of treatments: four to six, approximately every six weeks. Each treatment costs $250 to $300 and downtime is minimal. Although Dr. Barankin does not offer SkinTyte, he says patients can expect mild redness and swelling for 24 hours after the procedure.

Results are seen approximately one month after their first treatment, and after all six treatments are finished, the jawline should look tighter and more contoured. Results last three to four years. For both Thermage and SkinTyte, Barankin recommends a-once-a -year maintenance visit to upkeep results. "Both procedures actually have good long-term results, but the natural forces of gravity, weight fluctuation, pollution and age result in worsening of facial skin," says Dr. Barankin.

3. CHIN IMPLANT

Chin implants are placed along the jaw to augment and give the area better projection and support. Dr. Richard Rival, MD, FRCS, facial plastic surgeon at the Rival Rhinoplasty and Facial Surgery Centre in Toronto and Newmarket, Ont., says the incision is most commonly made underneath the chin, and the procedure takes 45 minutes to one hour. Patients may experience bruising and swelling for a few weeks as well as discomfort along the jaw area. The implant lasts for a lifetime, and the procedure costs approximately $2,500. "As a result, the chin gets more length and projection. It tends to balance out the face better and improves the profile," says Dr. Rival.

4. PLATYSMAPLASTY/LIPOSUCTION

For patients who want to whittle their wattle, platysmaplasty combined with liposuction can help. An incision is made underneath the chin and the muscle is tightened manually. Fat and excess skin are also removed. The surgery costs $2,500 to $3,000, and patients can expect one to two weeks of bruising and swelling. Results are immediate, but will not be visible until three to four weeks after the surgery, when all the swelling has disappeared. Dr. Rival says results are long-lasting, but only if the patient maintains his or her weight. "If the person gains weight, fat will return to the area and could completely come back in 10 years," says Dr. Rival.