In the age of social media, people are more image-conscious than ever before. From Snapchat filters and editing apps to the perfect lighting and ideal angle, there are dozens of tricks people deploy to look their best in photos.
This “selfie awareness” has an increasing number of people taking it one step further and turning to the professionals to alter their looks. According to an annual survey by The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS), 55 percent of facial plastic surgeons saw patients who want to look better in selfies in 2017, a 13 percent increase from the previous year, with many of these patients under the age of 30.
One procedure that’s gaining popularity is double chin reduction. “With the advent of the filter, people are able to remove the double chin before posting on social media....and they realize that they like their new appearance,” said Dr. Melissa Doft of Doft Plastic Surgery in New York City.
When it comes to removing submental fat (the small bulge under the chin), there are several options that can tackle the area, from completely non-invasive to simple outpatient procedures done under local anesthesia.
Coolsculpting, a specific brand of cryolipolysis, is a non-invasive body contouring treatment that can be performed under the chin, among other areas of the body. CoolScultping technology targets the fat cells beneath the skin, cooling them to a temperature that causes them to die off and eventually be metabolized by the body over the course of eight to 12 weeks.
The CoolMini, a small applicator designed specifically to target under the chin in order to create a more sculpted looking jawline, reduces fat cells by about 20 percent after one treatment, which takes about 40 minutes.
Patients sit with the applicator under the chin while a machine creates a suction as it cools the area. It can be slightly uncomfortable for the first few minutes until the area goes numb. After the device is removed, the technician will massage the skin for a couple minutes. The treatment area will have a slightly frozen, bulging feeling post-procedure until the fat cells begin to die off.
“Patients find this treatment a great alternative [to other double-chin reduction procedures] because there's no discomfort or downtime and there are lasting results,” said Eugene Kagansky, Director of BodyFactory Skincare and CoolSculpting Specialist. “CoolSculpting is cost-effective, you see amazing results in one treatment.”
Some downsides to this option include soreness and swelling of the treatment area. It can also take a while before patients see results and CoolSculpting doesn’t generally eliminate as much fat as other alternatives.
While the price can vary depending on the number of treatments required, CoolSculpting can cost anywhere between $1,000 and $2,000.
Kybella is a cosmetic injectable approved by the FDA in 2015 that promises to dissolve the fat under the chin with little downtime. The main ingredient is deoxycholic acid, a synthetic version of a naturally occurring molecule in the body that aids in the breakdown and absorption of fat.
A healthcare provider will make multiple small injections under the chin in order to treat the excess fat. After the procedure, you will likely experience swelling and numbness with possible bruising at the injection site. According to Health Line, in clinical studies, 59 percent of people needed six treatments of Kybella to get their desired results, though many only needed two to four.
While Kybella is often marketed as an easy and non-surgical alternative to liposuction, there is still some debate over whether it’s the best choice.
“Kybella works, it’s just not always presented right,” Robert Anolik, a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the NYU School of Medicine, told Allure. “Kybella is not a no-downtime alternative to liposuction — there will be swelling and tenderness — but it is a nonsurgical alternative, which carries fewer severe risks.”
Dr. Doft told Fox News she almost always recommends liposuction over Kybella, as she finds it more effective. “Although Kybella offers an easy fix to remove the fat with a few pinpricks, as patients learn more about it, they realize that multiple treatments are necessary. With each treatment, patients experience swelling and numbness,” says Dr. Doft.
The cost of Kybella can add up quickly, with it averaging between $1,200 and $1,800 per treatment.
Liposuction, often performed to remove excess fat around the abdomen, can also be administered under the chin. “Mini lipo,” as some doctors call it, involves a small canula inserted through holes under the chin in order to suck out the fat. The holes are then closed with a couple of stitches. The entire process only takes about 20 minutes and is performed as an outpatient procedure under local anesthesia. Dr. Doft prescribes her patients a Valium to take before the treatment to help calm nerves then numbs the area entirely to alleviate any potential discomfort.
Unlike CoolSculpting and Kybella, patients can see visible results immediately after the procedure is done. However, some swelling will occur and can take up to six months before all the swelling is gone and skin tightening has occurred.
“When I offer mini-liposuction, patients are thrilled. It is one procedure, one downtime, minimal bruising, minimal discomfort and 100 percent fix,” Dr. Doft told Fox News.
“The cost is equivalent to two treatments of Kybella but most patients need more than two treatments of Kybella to be satisfied. Furthermore, the action of liposuction will lead to slight tightening of the neck skin which Kybella will not,” she said.
Liposuction performed under the chin and on the neck costs about $3,600.