Submental Fat, also known as “double chin”, is a common cosmetic problem that concerns people of all ages and genders.
Liposuction has been the main method to reduce submental fat for a long time. Although liposuction is an effective and reliable treatment, its high cost, long recovery time, and the risks of complications such as bruising, bleeding, infection, hypertrophic scarring, and nerve injury have made many patients reluctant to undergo surgery. As the demand for reducing excess localized fat continues to increase, non-invasive methods such as deoxycholic acid (Kybella) injections, cryolipolysis, and radiofrequency microneedling have become increasingly popular, especially for patients with moderate to severe submental fat and minimal skin laxity.
Deoxycholic acid injection, marketed as Kybella in the US and Belkyra in Hong Kong, has been widely researched and is the first fat-dissolving injection approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2015 for reducing moderate to severe submental fat. The purified synthetic deoxycholic acid can dissolve local fat cells, while the surrounding tissues are largely unaffected. The destruction of fat cells causes a local inflammatory response, which stimulates fibroblasts, increases collagen production, and triggers macrophages to clear lipids and cell debris. Clinical trial results have shown that deoxycholic acid injection therapy can reduce submental fat and maintain the effect for a long time.
Common adverse reactions include swelling, hematoma/bruising, pain, numbness, erythema, and nodules at the injection site, but these reactions are usually temporary and not severe.
Cryolipolysis is a non-invasive technology that selectively destroys fat cells by using controlled freezing to treat the subcutaneous fat layer without damaging other tissues. Fat cells are particularly sensitive to cold and can cause lipolysis (inflammation of the fat layer). This phenomenon is the basis for selective fat destruction. The principle of reducing the fat layer is based on the induction of apoptosis of fat cells by cryogenic treatment and the subsequent inflammatory reaction caused by the ingestion of lipids. The FDA has approved cryolipolysis for the treatment of excess fat in the flanks, abdomen, and inner thighs. The latest applicators are now available to treat submental fat.
The side effects of cryolipolysis are usually temporary and include erythema, edema, numbness and tingling, bruising, sensitivity, itching, and mild discomfort.
Radiofrequency (RF) microneedling is a technique that provides deep heating to the fatty tissue to reduce fat. The technique uses micro-needles equipped with electrodes to deliver energy to the dermis or subcutaneous fat layer of the skin without affecting the epidermis. When used on fatty tissue (fat layer), it can be used for lipolysis treatment of the treatment area.
Common side effects include pain, erythema, swelling, bruising, and blisters. Most side effects are temporary. However, there is a chance of complications such as scars or excessive pigment alteration, either hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation.
Nowadays, in addition to traditional surgery, there are multiple options for treating submental fat. When choosing a submental fat treatment, the efficacy, side effects, contraindications, and costs of different treatments should be carefully considered. It is best to consult with a doctor for a diagnosis and explanation.