Double Chin

The double chin is one of the more tragic aesthetic concerns. It just pops up. It usually has very little to do with weight gain or our age. But it can make patients seem older and more overweight. It reduces the aesthetic appeal of our face, and it's extremely resistant to diet and exercise. Patients will often find themselves pushing to lose weight, running, and struggling to conform to a diet, and the rest of their bodies will respond. But their double chin will not. In most cases, the only way to eliminate it is to undergo a cosmetic procedure. Fortunately, there are a number of treatments available. 

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What is a Double Chin?

A double chin, often referred to as submental fat, is made up of fatty tissue and loose skin beneath the chin and jawline. It can be exacerbated by a number of other aesthetic concerns, including a receding chin, loose skin in the neck, and sagging in the cheeks and jowls. In some patients, double chins cover the chin altogether. They may also meld into the neck line, making it difficult to distinguish where the chin ends and the neck begins. Double chins have the unfortunate effect of overshadowing a toned physique, which may be cause for concern for patients who are trying to better their appearance. 

The biggest problem with the double chin is that it tarnishes the most visible part of our bodies, the face. It can hide the jawline, reducing the all-important definition so many of us strive towards. It creates bands of fat and loose skin that travel down the neck, and it overtakes the rest of our facial features, drawing attention away from what might be our most attractive traits. This can make patients feel self-conscious and ashamed. They may become overly worried about their appearance, resulting in mental health issues. This is one of the biggest reasons why patients choose treatment--not just for physical relief, but for emotional relief as well. 

Common Types of Double Chins

There are many issues that can crop up in the chin and jawline. There are pockets of fat, fatty bands obscuring the neck, and wobbly flaps. In the world of aesthetics, these problems are classified based on whether they are a result of fatty adipose tissue or loose excess skin.

  • Loose Skin

    When loose skin occurs in the chin or submental region, it creates flaps that travel from the chin down to the neck. It can also travel along the jawline, causing that area to sag. That will form what are known as neck bands. This is usually caused by skin laxity. Over time the skin loses its ability to conform to our bodies, often due to a lack of proteins and nutrients such as collagen and elastin. This is something that everyone faces as they get older, but it manifests in different ways. Double chins are only one such problem that patients encounter.

  • Fatty Tissue

    Sometimes fat will collect along the jawline and beneath the chin in the submental region, creating a band of stubborn fatty tissue. Unlike swatches of loose skin, this area will be firm to the touch, and it won't wobble when patients move around. Sometimes more than one band will form, traveling down the neck, obscuring the adam's apple. In other cases, the band will inflate, covering the chin, making it appear as though the chin is receding. This type of double chin is most often associated with weight gain by the public, but that's a myth. It can occur regardless of a patient's weight.

What Causes Double Chins?

Double chins are caused by fat and loose skin. Either the skin is sagging or something is directing fat to collect in that area. There are a number of reasons why this could happen. It might be weight fluctuations, aging, photoaging, or genetics. Whatever it is, it's rarely due to inflation from weight gain.

  • Aging

    The skin is held up by a scaffolding made of various molecules, water, and two vital proteins, collagen and elastin. They give the skin strength and elasticity. As we get older, our bodies have trouble producing them, causing the skin to sag and grow lax. When this happens, loose pockets form in the submental region.

  • Weight Fluctuation

    When we gain weight, it places an enormous amount of strain on our skin, breaking down the collagen and elastin it needs to conform to the shape of our bodies. As a result, when that weight is lost, the skin refuses to snap back. Instead, loose pockets build up in the submental region.

  • Genetics

    Some patients are predisposed to developing a double chin. There’s really nothing they can do to stop it, and usually the only way to remove it is through some type of aesthetic surgery. This is because, when water and fat are retained during digestion, genes determine where they are stored.

  • Skin Laxity

    Skin laxity is another common reason why double chins develop. As we age, our skin begins to sag in the jowl region, the face, the submental region, and the jawline. This will create loose pockets, flaps, or bands. They can usually be treated with some type of skin removal or tightening.

Procedures That Remedy Double Chins

When a patient seeks treatment for their double chin, the provider will try to determine what the double chin is made of. If the culprit is skin laxity, they may prescribe some type of lifting procedure, skin tightening, or skin removal. If fat is the issue, the provider will go over different types of fat removal.

  • Kybella

    Kybella is an injectable form of cosmetic fat removal used in the submental region beneath the chin. Its active ingredient, deoxycholic acid, is a secondary bile acid used by the human body to break down digestive fat. It dissolves fatty tissue, but it cannot be used to treat loose skin.

    Find doctors who offer Kybella
  • Neck Lift

    A neck lift is a type of cosmetic surgery designed to contour and reshape the jawline and the neck. Each procedure is customized to fit the patient's specific needs. Since it utilizes both liposuction and skin removal, it can be used on double chins formed from loose skin and fa

    Find doctors who offer Neck Lift
  • CoolSculpting

    CoolSculpting is a non-invasive fat removal procedure. It works by isolating pockets of fat and applying extreme cold temperatures to them, thereby killing the fat cells and causing them to be metabolized through natural processes. CoolSculpting is only effective at treating double chins formed from fat. It cannot remedy skin laxity.

    Find doctors who offer CoolSculpting

Frequently Asked Questions

There are a lot of ways to treat a double chin. No one option is better than the other. Instead, providers will look at the makeup of the chin, the patient's medical history, the medications they are taking, and their preferences with regard to treatment. If a double chin is caused by skin laxity, skin tightening or removal might be the way to go. If it's a result of fat, there are numerous options for removal. It's important for patients to stay informed, understand their alternatives, and seek the advice of a qualified, experienced provider who can help them find the form of treatment that suits them best.

When patients decide to address their double chin, they usually begin by looking into exercises. Many people are under the impression that the problem is caused by fat and weight gain. Therefore, it makes sense that it can be removed by working out. There are a ton of articles online claiming that certain movements and routines can help reduce double chins. In some cases, that might be true. But there's no scientific evidence that it can be done. All we have are anecdotes, which are basically testimonials, and when it comes to weight loss programs, nothing could be less reliable than a random testimonial.

The three treatment options for double chins listed above--CoolSculpting, neck lifts, and Kybella--are just a few items on a gigantic menu. There are many ways to remove fat and loose skin, and there are several forms of treatment that tighten skin. They can be minimally invasive, non-invasive, or they can be a part of a major, life-altering surgical procedure. A toned-down version of liposuction is quite common. There's laser lipolysis, which removes fat with laser energy. Some providers offer ultherapy, which uses ultrasound to melt fat and tighten skin. Radiofrequency also tightens skin. The choice will depend first and foremost on what a patient's body can handle based on their medical history. 

For many patients, Kybella sounds like the perfect option. It involves manually inserting a chemical known to degrade fat, and it does make use of things like RF waves, cold temperatures, or ultrasound, which seem less tangible and therefore less effective in the minds of others. Kybella does work. It has been FDA approved for removing fat in the submental region. But some patients don’t respond to it at all. Studies show that about 65-80% of people who receive treatment see results. That means 3 out of every 10 patients don’t achieve their aesthetic goals. That’s not the lowest efficacy rate, but it’s enough to think about trying other options.

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