You first noticed it in your vacation photos. In otherwise beautiful snapshots of your family on the beach, all you could focus on was the fullness around your neck. There is no doubt about it; you have a double chin. Unfortunately, excess fat accumulation, weakened facial muscles, and loose skin below the jawline are all part of the natural aging process.
“We have a layer of thick connective tissue called platysma which acts almost like saran wrap holding everything in place,” says Julie Russak, MD, a board certified dermatologist and founder of the Russak Dermatology Clinic in New York City. “As we lose collagen in the platysma, everything starts to sag by the power of gravity. The fat pads that remain push down on the platysma causing fullness and loss of definition.”
For some, a double chin is unavoidable at a young age due to genetic factors. And, excess tissue below the jawline can remain even after weight loss. “For those who work out and even lose weight, the frustration due to the appearance of fat is misconstrued,” says Dr. Russak. “Skin elasticity loss and skin looseness are what give the appearance of fat below the chin.” For these individuals, “tightening the skin is really the answer to a more defined jawline.”
Whether you recently noticed fullness in your neck or you have always wanted a more attractive jawline, you do not have to live with a double chin forever. There are many skin-tightening and fat reduction treatments available to help sculpt your neck and create the youthful, chiseled jawline you desire. Here are eight ways to get a more defined jawline from non-invasive treatments to surgical procedures.
Kybella® is a non-invasive treatment for reducing fat beneath the chin. Each treatment lasts between 15 and 20 minutes and involves a series of quick injections. The active ingredient in Kybella® is synthetic deoxycholic acid, which is a naturally occurring substance in the body that helps break down fat tissue.
When the synthetic deoxycholic acid is injected into the fat beneath the skin, it immediately starts working to destroy fat cells. Once destroyed, the cells can no longer store fat. The result is a noticeable reduction in fullness below the chin and a more defined jawline.
The number of injections required depends on the individual, though a majority of Kybella® patients require three to six treatments for the best results. In clinical studies, 79 percent of Kybella® subjects were satisfied with the appearance of the area beneath their chin 12 weeks after their final treatment. The fat reduction results of Kybella® are permanent.
If you struggle with stubborn fat below your chin despite eating healthy and exercising, you can now treat the area with CoolMini™. The CoolMini™ procedure is similar to its predecessor, CoolSculpting, which uses vacuum suction and controlled cooling to freeze targeted fat and sculpt a more defined jawline.
To begin, your provider will place the small, curved applicator to the area below your chin. Two cooling plates on the CoolMini™ applicator cool the skin and safely freeze the underlying fat cells without damaging the surrounding tissue.
Over the next few weeks, your body will naturally eliminate the destroyed fat cells to reveal a sculpted, defined jawline. Most individuals see a noticeable reduction in fullness and a more chiseled jawline after one CoolMini™ treatment. However, the final results become apparent after three to four months. As with Kybella®, the results of CoolMini™ are long-lasting. “We are permanently killing fat cells we do not reproduce,” says Dr. Russak.
There are several reasons why loose skin develops along the jawline. Age, genetics, sun exposure, gravity, and weight loss all contribute to the appearance of a double chin or “turkey neck". Sculptra® is one of several dermal fillers that can help reduce the appearance of sagging skin below the jawline by rebuilding lost volume in the face.
While most facial fillers use hyaluronic acid to temporarily fill in sunken areas of the face, Sculptra® gets to the root of the problem. It uses poly-L-lactic acid, which works with your body to help rebuild lost collagen for a more youthful look. When Sculptra® is injected on top of the jawline, collagen production is stimulated in the cheeks, which subtly lifts the skin in the lower face. Clinical trials show the results of Sculptra® can last up to two years.
Patients with mildly loose skin in the lower face are the best candidates for Sculptra®. Those with severe sagging below the jawline due to aging or major weight loss will see optimal results with neck lift surgery.
ThermiTight® is a minimally invasive alternative to a facelift or a neck lift surgery. It uses radiofrequency energy to heat the deep tissues of the lower face and neck, resulting in tighter skin and a more defined jawline.
During a ThermiTight® application, your provider will inject an anesthetic to numb the treatment area. Then, a tiny probe will be inserted under the skin to deliver heat directly to the tissue. As the radiofrequency energy is applied, it will melt fat cells on contact and cause controlled damage to the skin. This triggers your body to begin making new collagen, which, over time, tightens the skin in the neck for a more youthful, sculpted look.
Most ThermiTight® patients see results 30 days after the procedure, but the full effects of the treatment are apparent after three months. Best of all, ThermiTight® only requires one treatment. ThermiTight® is often used with the CoolMini™ procedure to reduce excess fat and tighten the skin on the neck without surgery.
5. PDO Thread Lift
A PDO Thread Lift is another minimally invasive treatment for those embarrassed by a double chin and/or sagging skin. The treatment uses tiny threads made of Polydioxanone (PDO) to instantly lift the skin and create a defined jawline while promoting cellular renewal.
The procedure is performed by inserting the PDO threads through blunt-tipped needles beneath the surface of the skin. Once placed, the threads lift the skin of the lower face upwards and the excess threads are cut off. Prior to the procedure, your provider will numb your skin and apply local anesthetic to make the treatment as comfortable as possible.
After six months your body will naturally absorb the PDO threads. This is when the lift is at its peak due to new collagen growth around the threads. The results of a PDO Thread Lift can last between two and three years.
A buccal fat pad reduction removes fat in the cheeks to contour the lower face. “We make a little incision inside the mouth and pull out some of the fat in the lower cheek that gives the appearance of jowls,” says Jason Emer, MD, a board certified dermatologic surgeon in West Hollywood. “With one stitch we close it up. It only takes 20 minutes in our office. There is no anesthesia and minimal downtime.” Dr. Emer commonly performs this procedure on models to give them a hollow, chiseled look in the lower face. “Even though there is a small incision, it is considered very non-invasive,” Dr. Emer explains.
If you feel like you have excess fat below your chin despite being a healthy weight, liposuction can offer incredible results. It is important to know that liposuction alone may not improve sagging skin. Therefore, the procedure is best suited to younger patients with good skin elasticity.
Liposuction is an invasive, though fairly straightforward procedure and can often be performed under local anesthesia. To perform the procedure, your provider will make one or two tiny incisions beneath the chin or behind the ears where a small cannula will be inserted. Your doctor will create small motions with the cannula to suction excess fat from below the chin and sculpt a defined jawline. “Now the liposuction we do is more than just removal of the fat,” says Dr. Emer. “We are internally heating the skin at the same time to promote tightening.”
After liposuction, you will be instructed to wear a chinstrap for three to four days. Most patients can return to work within a week and resume their normal activities after two weeks.
8. Neck Lift Surgery
Neck lift surgery is the most invasive solution for treating sagging skin below the jawline. The term encompasses two procedures: cervicoplasty, which is the removal of excess skin, and platysmaplasty, which involves tightening the neck muscles. Surgeons can perform one or both of these procedures to restore a smooth, firm neck and defined jawline.
While invasive, neck lift surgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis. Your doctor will use general anesthesia or intravenous IV sedation before making a small incision behind each ear and underneath the chin. Through these incisions, the surgeon will smooth wrinkles and creases in the neck, tighten the neck muscles, and remove excess skin.
Bruising and swelling are typical following neck lift surgery, but most patients are back to their normal routines within two weeks. Neck lift surgery is often performed along with liposuction to remove excess fat and skin from the neck and sculpt a firm, youthful appearance.
What About Facial Exercises? Do They Actually Work?
According to Dr.Emer, facial exercises might have detrimental effects on the skin’s elasticity and jawline instead of beneficial ones. You might’ve heard that performing facial exercises or chewing gum can sculpt a more chiseled jawline but there doesn’t seem to be much truth to this sentiment. Dr.Emer explains that “all facial exercises do is potentially make the skin looser and make it look like you have a more muscular jawline, which can make you look bulky.”
If you want to try facial exercises –that won't affect your skin's elasticity – before considering the treatment options above, here are a couple to get you started.
- Tongue Twister: The tongue twister targets the muscles under your chin. Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth just behind your front teeth. Then press your entire tongue against the top of your mouth to create tension. Hum and make a vibrating noise to activate the muscles in your neck and lower jaw; complete three sets of 15.
- Neck Curl-Ups: Another facial exercise you can try to create a more chiseled jawline is a neck curl-up. Lying on your back, press your tongue to the roof of your mouth to activate your neck muscles. Then bring your chin to your chest and lift your head off the ground slightly; complete three sets of 10 repetitions. This facial exercise will strengthen and tone the muscles of the neck, which can help prevent drooping.
If you feel any pain performing facial exercises stop right away, as improper form may result in injury.
You do not have to live with a double chin forever. If you are embarrassed by a double chin or sagging skin around your neck, there are many treatment options available for restoring a smooth, firm, defined jawline. “I always tell my patients that the most natural results are achieved by a combination of procedures, and not just by one,” says Dr. Russak. “Paying special attention early on and what you do at home is equally as important to prevent and then effectively treat a double chin.” Establish a skincare routine, consider the non-invasive and surgical options above, and talk to your doctor about the right solution for you.
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