CHINS UP! Can You Lose Your Double Chin? by: Vincent Lepore MD

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Chin awareness is at an all-time high. We can probably thank our state-of-the-art, technological times for the new emphasis on the lower part of the face, and neck.

You’ve seen the stories, and you’ve probably seen what they’re talking about on your own devices, as you scrutinize yourself and your friends in any number of Selfies.

What a lot of people are noticing – is some extra ‘stuff’ between the chin, and the neck. A little pouch, or softening, or a big pouch and a lot of softening. Now that we’re all looking, we’re seeing more and more that the once firm angle beneath our chins, may have changed.

WHAT’S TO BLAME?

We’re talking about Double Chin.
What happens to cause it? As with most areas of the body that droop, jiggle, pooch out, or hang, there are some causes in common. And, it’s also true that some modern habits are contributing to the appearance of double chins, even in the young.

  • Heredity – Look at members of your family, and pictures of them at different stages of life. Is there a tendency in the family to develop this change in feature? It could involve the basic structures of face, chin, neck, and fat storage.
  • Lifestyle – Are you controlling your weight? The weight we gain, goes everywhere, not just around the middle, or thighs, etc. The area beneath the chin is a prime site for fat storage.
  • Fitness – Is regular exercise part of your life? Exercise should include (and will benefit) all parts of the body. There are muscles in the neck, which extend right up to the chin. You’ll see lots of devices marketed to help tighten this area, and reduce the appearance of ‘double chin.’ Depending on the amount of fat that may be in the area, these devices will have varying effects- but do not on their own, eliminate hanging fat and skin.
  • Habits - Are you looking down at your various devices all day and all evening? This is what all of the recent reporting is about—concern that we’re developing a whole generation of humans with heads and necks permanently, and unnaturally bent forward. It’s an angle that could not only emphasize the appearance of a double chin, it could cause lasting pain and damage to your back and neck as well.
No one wants to look older before their time, and some of the bad habits mentioned above can be prime contributors.

WHAT CAN YOU DO FOR A DOUBLE CHIN?

  • Stabilize your weight. We all experience the effects of aging. That is, our skin will gradually become looser, and less elastic, and will tend to sag over time. It’s always a good idea to remain at the recommended weight for your size and body type. Excess fat, as we said earlier, will tend to collect, and be especially noticeable, beneath the chin.  But if you gain and lose weight with regularity, you’re contributing to that loss of elasticity in your skin, and will notice sagging and potential “turkey wattle” in the neck – a lot sooner.
  • Exercise – An ongoing fitness regime does help keep things tight- in all areas.
  • Look Up! – This may be tough for many of you. Try to catch yourself when you’re hunched over, checking messages, texting, etc. all through the day.
  • There’s a lot to be said for the time-honored ‘Mom Reminder’ about Posture- Stand up straight. Gently extend your neck straight upward (not with your chin tilted up- keep your eyes facing front) You’ll feel a gentle stretch throughout your neck and upper back. You may need some exercise tips on straightening your shoulders, but once you get the hang of it, make it a habit!
If you’ve been paying attention to your health and lifestyle habits, and you are still bothered by your double chin(s), what else can be done?

CHIN SURGERY

There are several surgical options available to change the appearance of your chin, and remove the excess beneath it

Chin Augmentation has risen rapidly in popularity in the past few years. It can change the appearance of the chin by augmenting or reshaping it. A chin implant may be used for this purpose. The implants come in various sizes, and are shaped for various problems. They may lengthen the chin, or extend outward to firm up jowl and jawline areas. Many times, chin augmentation is performed with another procedure to eliminate extra fat.

Liposuction - Liposuction is a surgical procedure. With a small cannula, your surgeon removes excess fat deposits beneath the chin, and depending on your situation, around the neck. In some cases, liposuction alone can achieve a patient’s goals in eliminating or reducing a double chin. Liposuction techniques have an added benefit of helping tighten the skin to a degree.

Liposuction alone will not solve the problem of severely sagging skin (as in ‘turkey wattle’ neck). For that, a neck lift with removal of the extra skin, and surgical tightening of the muscles, is recommended.

Chin Fillers – This is a non-surgical procedure, in which a filler is injected to provide a more subtle shaping, or extension of the natural chin. Injections of fillers need to be repeated after a number of months, to maintain their effect.

Fat-Dissolving Injections – A new injectable treatment, Kybella, has received FDA approval for dissolving fat beneath the chin. A doctor may inject the material in a dozen or more injection points under your chin. (think of a grid, or ‘dot to dot’ pattern). The treatment is repeated a number of times—over a period of several months.

Lasers – There are a number of laser therapies in use, marketed to reduce fat, and tighten skin, with varied degrees of effectiveness.

There’s a lot to consider in terms of the best course of treatment, and fortunately, there are many options available. While you’re considering them, remember to find your best angle, smile, and chin up!

[Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, Vincent Lepore MD, performs Liposuction, Neck Lift, Face Lift, and a wide range of cosmetic and reconstructive procedures in his San Francisco Bay Area practice. ]
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San Jose Plastic Surgeon