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What Causes a Double Chin? And How Can I Get Rid of Mine?
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What Causes a Double Chin? And How Can I Get Rid of Mine?

What Causes a Double Chin? And How Can I Get Rid of Mine?

How do you get rid of a double chin? Let's begin by asking what causes a double chin in the first place. And like so many other things, the development of double chin is most likely due to a combination of genetic factors and also lifestyle factors. So for example, it might be your balance of diet and exercise that leads you to put on weight, but it might be your genetic makeup that makes you more prone to deposit that weight in the form of fatty accumulation in the double chin area. And this is something that can be pretty clearly demonstrated by the fact that there are folks who are in very good shape, but they still have a double chin. For whatever reason, their body is essentially programmed to store their excess fat in the double chin, just like some people will preferentially store fat in their abdomen or in their hips or in their arms or their legs. Some people just preferentially store fat in the double chin area. And this can be particularly frustrating for someone who can successfully lose a great deal of weight, but they still have their double chin.

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How can I get rid of my double chin?

So that being said, let's move on to discuss some double chin treatments. And I'll break these down into three basic categories, and the first one is double chin exercises. The next one is noninvasive treatments to get rid of the double chin, and the last one is surgery for double chin removal. And we'll just go through these one at a time.

Do double chin exercises work?

And the first one is pretty straightforward and that is that for double chin exercises, we can go ahead and say pretty accurately that they really aren't going to do that much. So for the same reason that doing lots of sit-ups won't necessarily burn belly fat, but instead burn fat from all over the body. Any exercises that you're doing to try to burn fat specifically from your double chin area or as we call it the submental region, that means behind the chin, because mentum means chin and sub is underneath or behind. You really just can't target that with specific diet or exercise maneuvers. If you do, however, manage to lose a significant amount of weight through diet and exercise, you likely will lose fat deposits all over your body, and your double chin probably will get a lot better. But you really can't specifically target your double chin for removal with diet and exercise.

What are noninvasive procedures for double chin removal?

So we can move on to the next kind of double chin treatment, and this is the category of noninvasive therapies for double chin removal. And there are three big ones that bear mentioning. The first one is CoolSculpting, and CoolSculpting is a wildly popular treatment that can do some good noninvasive body contouring for the right candidate, and that's the person who has very localized fat deposits.

And CoolSculpting can effectively treat these in some cases by putting the applicator over the area of interest, And then the applicator will bring the fatty tissue in that area down to a critical temperature and induce those fat cells to die on their own. And CoolSculpting can work for people that have very well-defined double chins. It can take multiple rounds of treatments, and it can be fairly uncomfortable. It can end up costing quite a bit. But for someone who is really completely opposed to surgery, it's a reasonable thing to consider. But again, it requires a in-depth consultation with a body contouring expert who can really discuss your options with you.

The next kind of tool in our toolkit for noninvasively dealing with a double chin, and I'm including injectables and things like microneedling under noninvasive just to distinguish between surgical treatments and treatments that aren't surgical. So noninvasive in the sense that there is no surgery or incision involved is something called Kybella. And Kybella is actually an injection that you can have in your double chin. And Kybella is essentially a enzyme that naturally occurs in the body that's been repurposed for the job of dissolving fat, and it is FDA cleared for use in the double chin or submental region. And this works by having a skilled injector, essentially place the enzyme into your double chin, and over time it literally dissolves the fat in the area.

Now, the issue we've Kybella is that it does require several rounds of treatment and multiple injections, and each round of treatment comes with significant swelling and bruising and discomfort. And over the course of these several treatments, they really add up significantly in terms of cost. The next thing that we can discuss in terms of noninvasive ways to get rid of a double chin would be radiofrequency microneedling, and the device that I really liked for this is called Morpheus8. And the way that radiofrequency microneedling works is that tiny little needles are used to penetrate the skin and create micro injuries. And these micro injuries as they heal cause collagen and elastin production, and this causes soft tissue to contract.

And at the same time, the microneedles from the Morpheus8 device emit radiofrequency energy, and this radio frequency energy can actually melt the fat in the submental region. So on the whole, this sounds very good in theory, but it really only works for the kind of perfectly selected candidate, and that's someone who has a very isolated, low volume, double chin. And the reason for this is that the Morpheus8 device can really only penetrate with its energy to a depth of about five millimeters. So there's only so much fat melting and contraction that you can get with this. So I think that Morpheus8 is a really good device for generalized skin toning and resurfacing, but its ability to treat a double chin is limited except for in really the very carefully chosen candidate.

What kind of surgery can get rid of a double chin?

So what then is a very reliable slam dunk way to treat a double chin? Well, to get into this category, we really need to start looking at surgical options. And the good news about the surgical options for double chin removal is that they really are minimally invasive. And the two big surgical options for double chin removal are liposuction and skin tightening procedures. And the choice of the correct surgery for double chin removal really comes down to what is causing that double chin.

There are three possibilities here. The first is that the double chin is caused purely by excess fat. The second is that the double chin is caused purely by loose skin or skin excess, and this is the least likely scenario, and the third possibility is that the double chin is caused by a combination of excess fat and loose skin or skin excess.

In the case of the double chin caused purely by excess fat, this is very nicely dealt with with just some very limited targeted liposuction. And to do this, two to three millimeter tiny incisions are made, one behind each ear lobe and usually one right in the chin crease, so nobody is ever going to see these. Numbing medicine is placed through these incisions, and the excess fat is simply suctioned out. This is an operation that is so straightforward and really causes minimal discomfort that we often do it while the patient is wide awake. They come in, have the procedure, and they leave. The one thing to know about this procedure is that we do like our patients to wear a compression device, a chin strap, for about 48 hours afterwards. So if you're a busy working professional, you might want to do it on a Friday, so you could be back at work on Monday without your chin strap.

Now, for the case of loose skin, for mild to moderate cases, we really like radiofrequency energy for this in the form of a device called FaceTite or AccuTite. And they're really the same device, except for the AccuTite device is a bit smaller, so it allows us to target smaller areas of skin excess, and the FaceTime device is really better for treating kind of global neck and jawline problems.

And that works by putting one prong of the device through the same kind of incision that we used for liposuction, and the other prong of the device goes on the outside of the skin and it essentially fires radiofrequency energy across the skin between the two prongs of his device. And there are thermometers on both of the prongs, the one that's internal and the ones that's external, so the temperature is very precisely monitored. And the tissue is heated to the point that it's going to shrink and contract. And again, there's collagen and elastin production that helps with this process.

So now getting to the last kind of double chin, the one that is caused by a combination of fatty access and loose skin. As you might imagine, this can often be treated very effectively by a combination of liposuction and FaceTite or AccuTite. So again, we're really taking a problem-based approach to this issue.

What is recovery like after a double chin procedure?

Having done many of all kinds of these procedures ranging from CoolSculpting to Kybella and microneedling and liposuction and the different skin tightening procedures like AccuTite and FaceTite, I can tell you very objectively that believe it or not, the recovery from liposuction with or without some kind of skin tightening is really just as easy, if not easier than the recovery from CoolSculpting or from Kybella. I will say that the recovery from Morpheus8 is a bit easier than all of these things, but it really isn't nearly as effective, so I won't add it into this comparison.

The swelling and bruising and discomfort that you're going to feel after Kybella or CoolSculpting really often ends up being worse than what you're feeling after this kind of microtargeted liposuction with skin tightening when it's performed by an expert in the procedure. And it's also important to remember here that with pretty much all of these procedures, you're going to be repeating them several times to get a result that might only come close to what you could get with just one round of liposuction by a body contouring expert. Now, for people that have extremely severe double chins with a very large component of significant skin laxity, then we would have to move away from these minimally invasive procedures and start talking about more invasive procedures like a neck lift.

But for the garden variety of double chin and for the vast majority of people that are coming in to see us for these, and they're often in their thirties, forties, or fifties, the liposuction with some form of skin tightening is really going to do a super job here. Another question that we're very frequently asked is how much does double chin removal surgery cost? And double chin removal surgery is going to vary in cost significantly according to a few factors: the skill of your surgeon, the geographical location of your surgeon, and also the exact kind of technology that's being used, and also the severity of your problem, the complexity of the procedure that's required to deal with it.

How much does double chin removal cost?

And I would think that it's fairly safe to say that on average, you could probably have a procedure like this done looking across the country, taking kind of all comers into account, for anywhere from $2,000 to $7,000 for any of these kinds of noninvasive or minimally invasive approaches.

Conclusion

So the bottom line with a double chin is that it's a very common problem. It's a nuisance. It's really hard, if not impossible, to entirely get rid of on your own. So hopefully this overview has provided you with a sense of what options are available so you can start to think about what might be your favorite way of approaching double chin removal.

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  • Darren M. Smith MD
  • Darren M. Smith MD
  • Darren M. Smith MD

All photos are of models except before and after images.

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