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How to Lose Weight in Your Face

By Kimberley Hayes, AARP, March 2024

Through facial exercises, diet and other lifestyle changes, you can lose fat in your face. Weight gain can sometimes show up in your face first. You may notice it in photos, or in the mirror during your morning routine. For people over 50, these changes are often happening at the same time as age-related facial changes.

While the beauty industry tends to focus on wrinkles or age spots, facial fullness can also change as you get older. According to Harvard Health Publishing, fat in your face can shift with age. It can clump up and move downward, making formerly round features appear gaunt. Meanwhile, the lower half of your face can become plumper, with baggier skin around the chin and neck area.  

Be cautious of slimming your face too fast

Trying to drop pounds fast can have negative effects on your facial appearance as well. And the growing popularity of a new generation of weight loss drugs has led to the use of the term “Ozempic face,” which refers to sagging, wrinkling and other facial changes experienced by some people who lose weight rapidly while taking Ozempic and similar medications. 

Dermatologists say patients often don’t like their facial appearance following significant or rapid weight loss and sometimes seek to put fat back in their face through cosmetic procedures. Dermatologists and plastic surgeons are starting to explore the impact on their patients as weight loss drugs become more popular. 

Rapid weight loss also may unmask some of the effects of aging in your face, says Edward Saltzman, M.D., associate professor of nutrition and medicine at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. How and where people lose weight is dictated by many factors, including genetics and hormones. When Saltzman worked with weight loss surgery patients, some would retain their face shape, while others looked very different, with more sagging skin after weight loss. He says the same scenario could be happening with people who use drugs to lose weight quickly.

The National Institutes of Health recommends weight loss of about one to two pounds per week for six months.

Is it possible to lose weight only in your face? 

While specifically targeting one area of your body for weight loss can be challenging, you can take some steps to make your face appear slimmer, reduce puffiness and improve muscle tone.

Maintaining a body mass index (BMI) in the healthy range, between 18.5 and 24.9, could help your face appear slimmer. It’s important to remember that BMI is not a perfect indicator of health. BMI is a person’s weight in kilograms divided by their height in meters squared. It doesn’t consider how much fat you carry, where it is distributed, muscle mass or age. In fact, people over age 65 could benefit from a slightly higher BMI, of between 25 to 27, because we tend to lose muscle mass and bone density with age. 

It’s important to talk with your doctor about healthy weight goals and any changes to your diet or exercise routine. Rapid weight loss and other quick fixes won’t address underlying issues or offer permanent solutions to weight gain in your face. However, there are effective strategies to losing weight in your face, chin and neck through healthy long-term changes to your diet and lifestyle.

How to lose face fat 

Here are eight methods that could help slim your face naturally and healthily. 

1. Try facial exercises

Some small studies on facial exercises suggest they can tone facial features, potentially making your face look slimmer. A study published in JAMA Dermatology looked at the impact of a 20-week facial exercise program for middle-aged women that seemed to improve fullness in the mid-face and lower face. Another study showed that exercising facial muscles for 30 seconds twice per day for eight weeks helped to build muscle thickness and could help with facial rejuvenation. However, larger studies are needed on the long-term effectiveness of these exercises.  

Here are a few widely recommended facial exercises :  

  • Puff your cheeks and push the air back and forth from one side of your face to the other.

  • Hold a big smile and clench your teeth for several seconds at a time.

  • Stretch your neck out while pressing your tongue to the roof of your mouth to stretch your chin muscles.  

2. Increase your cardio and strength training 

While diet and caloric intake are some of the most important factors in weight loss, including weight in your face, adding cardio and aerobic exercises can help promote fat burning and weight loss. Dancing, walking, workout videos and swimming are all great ways of increasing movement and getting exercise daily.

For older adults, strength training can be just as important as cardio exercises. We lose muscle mass with age, and losing weight can also contribute to muscle loss. Toning up with light weights or resistance training is great for balance, fall and obesity prevention, and other surprising health benefits.

3. Reduce alcohol intake 

Over-imbibing of alcohol can lead to extra calories, weight gain and bloating, according to Jean-Philippe Chaput, senior scientist with the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group, who conducted a study on alcohol and obesity.   

“Alcoholic beverages are often high in calories … so cutting back reduces overall calorie consumption,” Chaput says. “Secondly, alcohol consumption can stimulate appetite and lead to overeating, particularly of unhealthy, high-calorie foods.”  

Excessive alcohol consumption can also impair liver function and disrupt metabolic function, hindering weight loss, Chaput says, and older adults may be even more susceptible to that damage.


Additionally, alcohol is associated with dehydration, which can lead to puffiness and bloating in the face. “Cutting back on alcohol can help improve hydration levels, reducing facial puffiness and promoting a more defined facial structure,” Chaput says.  

Drinking too much can also lead to other skin issues such as inflammation, acne and premature aging, all of which can affect facial appearance. Chaput notes, though, that not everyone’s skin will react the same way: “Individual results may vary, and factors such as genetics, overall lifestyle, and skincare regimen also play significant roles in facial appearance.”

4. Be smart about carbs  

Carbohydrate-heavy foods such as pasta, crackers, many breakfast cereals, white bread and white rice can contribute to weight gain and fat storage when consumed excessively. These types of heavily processed foods are stripped of their natural nutrients and fiber, which means they consist of mostly sugar and empty calories. Infusing your diet with whole grains could help with overall weight loss and reducing facial fat. But that doesn’t mean you have to abandon carbs completely. 

“It’s really about the quality of your carbs,” Saltzman says. Intact fruits and veggies and whole foods that are naturally rich in fiber can be helpful to weight loss. It’s OK to have carbs in moderation, and it’s important to find what works for you on a daily basis. “Some people respond to higher or lower amounts of carbs, it’s trial and error. … I would advise against doing something radical that would be harmful to your nutrition, or that is hard to sustain in our world,” Saltzman says. A dietitian could help find the right carb balance for you. 

5. Get enough sleep 

Having a full night’s sleep can aid in losing weight, including extra weight in your face. Studies have found that better sleep hygiene is associated with weight loss maintenance. But the amount of sleep you need is highly individualized. 

Saltzman suggests that we are only at the beginnings of understanding the importance of chronobiology, a field that studies the effects of time on biological systems, including the sleep-wake cycle. “Sleep is very important for regulations of all systems, including hunger,” he says. While eight hours has been the conventional wisdom on sleep, it’s more about what makes a person feel rested in the morning.  

6. Monitor your sodium intake 

Most of us have heard by now that excess sodium can lead to numerous health problems, including high blood pressure. Sodium can cause your body to retain fluids, which can contribute to swelling and puffiness in your face. Reducing the amount of processed foods in your daily diet, including salty snacks, processed meats and frozen dinners with high salt content, could help reduce your sodium intake and reduce facial puffiness.

7. Add more fiber and protein to your diet 

Fiber moves slowly through your digestive tract, and research has shown it helps keep you feeling fuller for longer. In a study of overweight and obese people, higher fiber intake was associated with increased weight loss. Fiber can be found in fruits such as avocados, kiwis and guava, vegetables such as brussels sprouts, kale and green cabbage, and nuts, seeds, whole grains and legumes.


Michelle Kwan, a research assistant at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and coauthor of the 2021 paper “Healthy Diet for Healthy Aging” previously told AARP that men over age 50 should be eating 30 grams per day of fiber and women over age 50 should be eating 21 grams per day.  Similarly, increasing your protein intake to about 25-30 grams per meal could slow muscle loss and weight gain, including in your face, and cause our bodies to reap more benefits of exercise. This is at the heart of the AARP-backed book The Whole Body Reset, which is designed for people seeking to lose weight at midlife and beyond. The book focuses on the timing and concentration of protein and fiber in your day while eating healthy and delicious food. 

8. Add diversity to your diet 

Long-term weight maintenance can help prevent fat from accumulating in your face in the first place. While quick fixes are tempting, establishing a routine that you can stick with for life is essential. Having a nutrient-rich, balanced, diverse diet, so you are not consuming the same thing day and day out, can be key to maintaining a healthy weight long-term, Saltzman says.

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