Top Surgical And Nonsurgical Ways To Eliminate A Double Chin

Top Surgical And Nonsurgical Ways To Eliminate A Double Chin
Woman showing off a sculpted chin after neck lift

Good posture, shoulders down, tongue planted firmly on the roof of the mouth, chin tilted forward and down, but not too down—taking a picture that doesn't shine a spotlight on a double chin is a lot of work. And frankly, we’re done with it. So today we’re going to talk about double chins—what they are, why they happen and what the heck we can do about ‘em.

What is a double chin?

Google generously offers up a truly offensive sounding definition of a double chin, calling it “a roll of fatty flesh under the chin”. And while that's not inaccurate... ew. Double chins are indeed rolls of fat and flesh under the chin, but they can be comprised of two different components—a weak or underdeveloped chin (microgenia) and/or excess tissue made up of extra fat and skin.

Caused by variables that we can control (excess weight and a poor diet, bad posture) and by variable we can’t (age and genetics), a double chin isn’t big on the list of features you’ll likely want to embrace. In fact, a search for the term “double chin” will prove just how badly most of us want to eliminate ours—exercise and makeup contouring videos, photo and posing how-to’s, hairstyle and clothing suggestions, all meant to camouflage or draw attention away from the jiggly bit of skin under the chin.

So what, are we doomed to suffer a dreaded double, triple, quadruple chin forever? No. No we’re not. (*Calm down.) There are a handful of permanent non-surgical and surgical solutions that work far better than hairstyle and makeup trickery, and that's why we're here. Let's begin.

Nonsurgical Treatments:

Minimally invasive treatments like Kybella, SculpSure and CoolSculpting are all being used to reduce or eliminate the appearance of a double chin. And while nonsurgical treatments don’t always offer the same surefire results that a surgical option would—the results they do offer are pretty darned good.

Kybella is an injectable treatment that contains deoxycholic acid (a naturally occurring substance in the body) that targets and destroys fat cells. The dead cells are then reabsorbed into the body and eliminated through your lymphatic system. Multiple treatments are recommended for the best results with 6-8 weeks in between injections. The side effects of Kybella are minimal—temporary bruising and swelling (think variations on a bullfrog) for a few days at the injection site, and the injections themselves can be momentarily painful. Depending on skin laxity, there’s a risk that the skin may appear loose and saggy after the Kybella has worked its magic, so a discussion with your doctor about the condition of your skin might be in order. Additional ultrasound treatments can help correct this, but if the skin is too lax you may need to consider a surgical procedures to tighten the area afterwards.

Sculpsure is another nonsurgical treatment used to reduce or eliminate a double chin. An applicator is placed on the fat pad under the chin in order to send laser energy to heat the targeted fat cells, damaging them enough that the body reabsorbs them. Your lymphatic system does the business of elimination and voila! Your double chin begins to disappear. This laser energy penetrates the skin, so it only heats the fat cells being targeted without damaging the dermis. The side effects are minimal (redness, tenderness and minimal discomfort) and with little to no downtime, you can see why this would be a popular treatment for the appropriate patient. Like Kybella, a series of treatments is recommended for optimal results, and the results should be visible around the three month mark.

Finally, our last contender in the nonsurgical realm is CoolSculpting (aka. CoolMini). Also minimally invasive, this nonsurgical treatment uses extreme cold as opposed to heat to destroy fat cells without incisions or injections. After placing the applicator under the chin, the CoolMini targets small pockets of fat, freezing them through cryolipolysis technology. This kills the fat cells without damaging the skin or surrounding tissue, leaving your body to reabsorb and eliminate the dead cells—bye. Results are not immediate (it can take several months to see improvements) and multiple treatments are recommended. Patients have also reported side effects like swelling and soreness, but typically there is no downtime and because it’s not as invasive as say… liposuction… there is minimal risk.

And now that we’ve said the “l” word, lets move on to some of the surgical options doctors are using to combat the double-chin.

Surgical Procedures:

Chin liposuction is an extremely popular way in which to treat a double chin. Your plastic surgeon will use a minimally invasive technique to remove small pockets of excess fat through a tiny cannula (tube) inserted through a small incision. If you can see past the side effects—bruising, swelling and discomfort—the results are immediate, but be prepared for up to two weeks of downtime. Like the nonsurgical options, there’s the chance that removal of excess fat will lead to loose, sagging skin and may require additional treatments. There are multiple types of liposuction—a trusted, board-certified plastic surgeon can help you decide which one is right for you.

Your doctor may alternately recommend a neck lift to treat your double chin, particularly if you’re double chin is caused by the aforementioned “loose” skin. During the procedure, your surgeon works to tighten the skin and underlying neck muscles to add definition to the jaw and chin areas and eliminate any baggy saggy skin under the chin. As with most surgical procedures, the results are immediate (even if they’re hiding under side effects like swelling and bruising) and will require at least a week of recovery time. A neck lift is often used in combination with liposuction to treat both a double chin and any impending sagging at the same time.

If a weak chin is causing the appearance of a double chin, your surgeon may recommend surgically inserting a chin implant to help define the area and improve the projection of the chin and jaw. This procedure can also be paired with liposuction for the best result. You’ll need up to two weeks of recovery time and can expect swelling, bruising and discomfort—but the results will be permanent, immediate and likely, fabulous.

So you see you’re not doomed to suffer a panic attack at the mere suggestion of a photo. There are several surgical surefire ways to eliminate your double chin, and a handful of somewhat-surefire nonsurgical ways too. A sit-down with a board-certified plastic surgeon can help you sort out which procedure might be right for you.