Smiling parents holding young children at beach

Double chin goes single — without surgery

February 17, 2016 | UCI Health
Woman checking her appearance in a mirror

Call it what you may — turkey gobbler, wattle or double chin — that excessive fat under your chin may not only bother you but also can make you look older.

If you want to know why this occurs, look no further than your parents, because it’s mainly in your genes. In addition, it could be unhealthy lifestyle choices that have led to excess weight gain. No matter the cause, these days you can rid yourself of the fatty mound without surgery.

“Most people have a bit of excessive fat in this location. Removal of this wattle will change the shape of your face, and you will be perceived as looking younger, healthier and better-looking,” says Dr. Christopher Zachary, chair of the UC Irvine Department of Dermatology. “And now there are two nonsurgical procedures that work reliably — and without the need to go under the knife.”

Fat-fighting injections

One method involves a series of shots containing deoxycholate (Kybella™), a naturally occurring substance that helps break down body fat. About 20 to 30 superficial injections are administered to the fatty region over the course of two to three visits. During that time, the fat is gradually diminished.

“As the fat regresses, there’s also some contraction of the skin,” Zachary says. “It’s a very simple procedure; the only downside is some bruising, swelling and numbness, which are generally resolved after a week or so.”

Freezing fat cells

The second method employs a device called the CoolMini™, which destroys fat cells by freezing them. Using gentle vacuum pressure, it draws the skin — and underlying fat — into a cooling suction cup that chills down the fat to about four degrees. As the cells warm up again, a process of programmed cell death called “apoptosis” begins. The fat cells die off over a period of one to two months, gradually reducing the “gobbler.”

Before and after photo of a patient's chin after CoolSculpting

This is a selective process which damages only the fat cells; the rest of the skin including hair follicles and sweat glands are unaffected.

“There’s no bruising, or swelling or long-term numbness, and the results can be dramatic, in some cases equivalent to liposuction,” Zachary says.

Before and after photo of patient's chin after CoolSculpting

While surgery remains the gold standard for those wanting immediate results, these new procedures offer less-invasive options with the benefit of fewer complications, shorter recovery time and a more gradual change.

“These and other innovative techniques, developed in part at the UC Irvine Department of Dermatology, are expanding the arsenal of tools that assist in making our patients look their best — including the concept of ‘pre-juvenation’ used among people in their 30s and 40s — that can help prevent the development of the inevitable aging process,” Zachary says.

Learn more about UCI Health Dermatology Services ›

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