Submental fat, also known as a “double chin,” plays a significant role in the appearance of the neck and can affect the overall attractiveness of the face and neck. The buildup of excess fat in the submental region can cause you to lose the youthful and attractive features that most people desire, including a defined jawline. The causes of a double chin may be genetic, related to age, or due to being overweight. Fortunately, there are now several treatment options available to address this issue.
The fat in the subcutaneous layer of the face is not in one contiguous layer, but is separated by compartments, similar to individual rooms. The boundaries of these compartments extend from the fascial or membranous layers to the dermis layer. Since the volume and location of these compartments cause different problems with age and physical condition, targeted treatments can be used to address them.
The ideal characteristics of a submental profile include a clearly visible mandibular line, a hyoid bone indentation, a prominent thyroid cartilage, a distinct sternocleidomastoid muscle, and a neck to submental angle of approximately 105-120 degrees. The formation of a double chin affects these ideal features, making the contours less visible.
The traditional method for treating submental fat has been through liposuction, which comes with a higher risk of surgery and longer recovery time. A newer treatment option involves the injection of deoxycholic acid (Kybella/Belkyra), which has been proven to effectively restore the ideal features of a defined jawline. Deoxycholic acid injection is relatively safer than surgery and has a faster recovery time, but may also have side effects such as bruising, numbness, and swelling.
Submental swelling may be caused by factors other than fat, such as lymph node problems, salivary gland enlargement, or even digastric muscle hypertrophy. To address the issue of a double chin, it is best to have a doctor evaluate the cause and determine the most appropriate treatment plan.