Until very recently, anyone considering cosmetic treatments to get rid of a double chin ended up debating the merits of neck liposuction versus a surgical neck lift or mini facelift. That all changed this year as the FDA cleared CoolSculpting’s new CoolMini™ applicator for eliminating fat below the chin. And just a few months before that, the agency approved KYBELLA®, which minimizes double chins through a series of injections.
Double chins are one of the most annoying cosmetic concerns people have. A 2014 survey conducted by the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery found that nearly 70% of the men and women who responded identified excess neck fat under the chin as one of their top concerns.
So here’s a closer look at the 3 primary treatment alternatives:
The CoolMini’s arrival is generating excitement because it’s the first totally non-invasive approach to this stubborn concern. No incisions, no injections.
It offers results similar to other CoolSculpting treatments, which have been successfully reducing fat in trouble spots such as the belly, “love handles,” and thighs for a few years now at cosmetic practices around the U.S. It is one of the most popular non-surgical body contouring options, and the phrase “Freeze the fat” is ubiquitous on billboards and in online ads.
CoolSculpting reduces fat deposits using a patented process called Cryolipolysis®, which carefully cools fat cells from outside the body without damaging the skin or other tissues. An applicator head is merely suctioned to the skin in the area where the patient wants to target fat, delivering intense cold into the tissues. Most patients say the process is quite comfortable. After a couple of months, the damaged fat cells are flushed away by the body. The CoolMini treatment uses the same process for the neck, but with a new, smaller applicator.
“The CoolMini’s unique design fits snugly on those small areas where fat accumulates, such as under the chin and on the knees,” says Dr. Richard Chaffoo, a triple board-certified plastic surgeon, in a press release on his website. He is a liposuction specialist in San Diego County whose practice is one of the first in the area to offer CoolMini treatments. He says it’s a great option for anyone who wants fat reduction without the inconvenience of surgery: “The treatments can be completed in an hour or less, and most patients return immediately to work or their daily activities.”
The cost of a single treatment is usually several hundred dollars, and some patients choose to repeat treatments for more extensive results.
KYBELLA initially generated quite a bit of interest. It was dubbed the “double chin shot” and touted as something of a magic bullet for eliminating submental fat — the fat that accumulates below the chin. Arriving on the scene before CoolMini, it was the first non-surgical option for this concern.
However, KYBELLA isn’t non-invasive. In the months since it became available, the reviews have been a bit of a mixed bag. To begin with, the “double chin shot” actually involves multiple injections during at least 2 separate treatment sessions (up to 6 sessions may be needed). The injections contain a chemical that breaks down fat cells over the following weeks. The side effects, primarily swelling and a hardness at the injection sites, often last longer than a week and are fairly pronounced. Including scarves in your post-treatment wardrobe is strongly advised.
But the shots appear to work, according to the users of the popular RealSelf website. Although the treatment is relatively new, more than 50 reviewers on that site give it a thumbs-up.
One last note is that the $1,500 average price tag — which can exceed several thousand dollars, depending on the number of treatments needed — puts the cost on par with neck liposuction.
When most people think of liposuction, they think of areas such as the tummy and hips. But it is an equally effective option for reducing neck fat for people who want a slimmer, more defined chin and jawline. In fact, it’s pretty much the gold standard because it gets impressive results.
Unlike CoolSculpting and KYBELLA, liposuction is considered an invasive procedure that requires some recovery time. Liposuction, however, will usually get more dramatic results and is a one-time procedure. Laser liposuction is a popular technique when treating the neck, but there are several choices when it comes to the specific liposuction technique.
The process involves a day at a surgery center, local or general anesthesia, and several small incisions through which a plastic surgeon inserts a thin tube called a cannula. He or she breaks up fatty deposits and suctions them away.
Costs generally range in the low thousands. The main tradeoff here is downtime and recovery. Because liposuction is surgery, it requires a few days of downtime and comes with some discomfort. But, it gets the most extensive results.
The bottom line for anyone who wants his or her double chin to disappear: Find an experienced plastic surgeon certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery and discuss each option.