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Many patients are unhappy with the appearance of submental fullness, or fat and loose skin under the chin. This extra skin and fat can age your face, make it appear that you have gained weight, and give you an unproportioned look. In fact, a survey taken in 2015 by the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery found that 67% of people are unsatisfied with the appearance of their chin due to submental fullness. Thankfully, there are a few treatments to help reduce the appearance of unsightly fat and loose skin in this area. But which is right for you? Keep reading to learn what causes submental fat and about the two must popular procedures to reduce it, Kybella and liposuction.

What Causes Submental Fullness?

Although many think submental fat has to do with weight gain, that is not the only reason that it occurs. Aging is a common reason for the appearance of a double chin. This is because as we age our skin loses elasticity and begins to sag. This can give the appearance of a double chin. Another common reason is genetics as skin elasticity is something that runs in families. This is why getting rid of fat under the chin is very difficult to do. It is not as easy as just losing weight and exercising. Often undergoing a cosmetic procedure is the only effective way to reduce this problem.


Liposuction is performed by removing the excess fat and can be done in many different areas of the body. This procedure can be used to remove submental fullness to help contour and sculpt the chin and jaw line. By defining your chin, your face appears more balanced and youthful. Many surgeons recommend liposuction under the chin for younger patients, between the ages of 20-50 years of age, as the skin is more elastic. The more elastic the skin is the better it will be able to contract to your chin’s smaller shape.

There is also a specialty form of liposuction that is used on the chin area to help reduce the appearance of submental fullness and sagging skin. This is known as SmartLipo. During this procedure lasers are combined with liposuction to provide the best results. The laser is used to melt the fat and tighten loose skin, while the liposuction utilizes suction to remove the melted fat.

What to Expect After Liposuction

Following your liposuction procedure, a chin strap will need to be worn for three to four day to ensure proper healing. You will be able to go back to your normal activities within two weeks after your procedure. Many patients are able to return to work within the first week. Full results can be seen within the first three to six months.

Possible Side Effects and complications.

As this is a more invasive procedure there are some possible side effects. These include bruising, swelling, and discomfort that usually disappear within the first two weeks after your procedure. Other risks and complications of liposuction include infection, nerve injury, blood clots, and skin irregularities.

Pros and Cons of Liposuction

Although regular liposuction alone requires patients to have good skin elasticity, other more advanced forms, such as SmartLipo, or combining liposuction with a neck lift allows fat to be removed while sagging skin it tightened. Liposuction does take longer to recover from than patient’s choosing Kybella, but you only need one session to see desired results.


Kybella is an innovative, noninvasive injectable that helps to eliminate mild to moderate submental fullness. Kybella breaks down fat and aids the body in absorbing the dead fat cells. It uses the key synthetic ingredient deoxycholic acid, which can be found naturally in the body. When the fat cells are destroyed, there is very little chance of the cells being able to accumulate more fat. Multiple treatments may be required to achieve desired results, depending on the amount of submental fullness.

About the Procedure

Kybella is carefully injected into your chin with a very fine needle. The injections are done directly into the areas of submental fullness to allow the deoxycholic acid to work optimally. If repeated treatments are necessary to achieve desired results, it is important to take breaks of at least a month in between sessions. The amount of treatments you will need will depend on your doctor’s recommendations, your desired results, and the amount of submental fat you have.

Results to Expect from Kybella

The results from Kybella are not instantly visible and may take multiple treatments to become apparent. Following your injections, the deoxycholic acid is working to destroy the fat over time and there may not be dramatic results from one session. Once your desired results are achieved, there is usually no need to return for yearly maintenance, as is necessary for other injectables. This is due to the fat cells being destroyed, and usually unable to accumulate fat afterwards.

Possible Side Effects

Kybella is a safe injectable treatment, but can result in some side effects. Bruising, pain, swelling, numbing, and redness of the chin area are all common after Kybella injections. A rare but serious side effect that may occur is nerve damage. This can lead to facial muscle weakness and cause an uneven smile.

Pros and Cons of Kybella

Kybella is a great permanent option to reduce the appearance of submental fat and to define your neck and jawline. Kybella is a quick treatment that requires little to no downtime with no need for anesthesia. Many patients will need to have more than one treatment to achieve desired results and full results may take a few weeks to become apparent.

Which Procedure is Right for You?

Although this guide gives you great information about each procedure, the best way to know which treatment is best for you is to have a full facial assessment and consultation with an experienced and qualified doctor. They will be able to look at your facial features, submental fullness, loose skin, and unique face shape to decide which treatments would give you your desired results.

If you are interested in having either of these treatments, give our office a call today.

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Dr. Gregory T. Lynam

Dr. Gregory T. Lynam is Richmond's only board-certified plastic and maxillofacial surgeon. He has helped numerous people within the community tumor surgeries, breast reconstructions, and facial trauma surgeries.

Dr. Lynam was voted one of Richmond's "Top Docs" in plastic surgery and one of Richmond's "Best Plastic Surgeons to take you back 20 years" by Richmond Magazine in 2010. Additionally, he is known as an expert plastic surgeon on RealSelf and was honored as one of the Top 100 Doctors on RealSelf in 2013.

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