Submental Liposuction vs Coolsculpting

Getting Rid of A Double Chin:
Submental Liposuction vs. Coolsculpting

“What’s this new thing called Coolsculpting; does it work?” That’s a question we often are asked by patients wanting to get rid of the fat and heaviness in their neck, also known as a double chin.

Whether Coolsculpting or some other non-surgical trend, it’s easy to fall into thinking (hoping) that the newest option is the smartest way to get rid of a double chin, especially when the treatment sounds so simple. Not so fast. While Coolsculpting may meet the expectations of some patients, it will likely disappoint others. As with any facial cosmetic issue, there’s no single solution that’s ideal for everyone. Instead of jumping at “what’s new”, do your research to find out “what works” specifically for what bothers you, taking into consideration your age, lifestyle and budget. At the end of the day, it’s great results you want so let results, not the process, be your determining factor.

What causes a double chin?
Carrying even a few extra pounds can cause a double chin, but you don’t have to be overweight to have excess fat (submental fat) under your chin. Some people are genetically predisposed to having a heavier, thicker chin and neck, which can in turn make you look older than your age. Fat in the chin/neck also makes it unattractive for women to wear certain necklines and uncomfortable for men to wear a shirt and tie.

How do you get rid of a double chin?
Here’s a brief look at two options: The time-tested, minimally invasive surgical method for fat reduction in the chin/neck area, called submental liposuction, versus the latest non-surgical treatment, CoolSculpting.

Procedure: Submental Liposuction (and Lower Facelift – optional)

The traditional method for removing excess fat from the neck area is a minor surgical procedure called submental liposuction.

HOW DOES IT WORK? In this procedure, which takes only about 30 minutes to perform, the facial cosmetic surgeon will mark out the area to be treated and then locally (using Lidocaine with epinephrine) anesthetize that area. A small incision, about an inch or so in length, is made under the chin in a natural crease so as to be virtually hidden. Using a tiny canula, the surgeon removes the excess fat via liposuction. The surgeon has direct visualization of the area needing fat removal, thus providing optimal control of the amount being removed and subsequent results. The incision is closed with sutures under the skin that dissolve on their own, thus eliminating any suture removal. The surgeon applies small steri-strips on the skin surface over the incision area. Healing typically takes 7-8 days after which time the steri-strips are removed.

Submental liposuction can be performed alone or included as part of the minimally invasive lower facelift –- the Timeless Lift™ –– which is the case with Dr. Robert Smyth. This procedure addresses both the lower face/jawline and the fat in the neck area at the same time to provide the defined jawline and smoother neck patients want. Results are immediate and last six to 10 years for most patients, depending on their faithful use of sunscreen, not smoking, healthy diet, and avoiding major fluctuations in weight.

“Unless there is very good elasticity of the skin of the neck, the submental liposuction procedure is best performed in conjunction with a lower face/neck lift,” says Dr. Smyth. “The combined procedure, performed entirely under local anesthesia, creates the more youthful jawline and neck profile patients want… and patients have one healing period.”

By the age of 50, most people have enough laxity (looseness) in the skin of their chin/neck that submental liposuction, alone or as part of a lower facelift, is their best solution for eliminating their double chin. Whereas Coolsculpting promises to reduce fat under the chin by freezing the fat cells, submental liposuction actually removes the fat. Having the lower facelift performed at the same time removes the extra, sagging skin that can remain.

Dr. Smyth performs all facial cosmetic procedures under strictly local anesthesia, which leads to a shorter recovery time and eliminates risks associated with general anesthesia. Patients can take a small amount of light sedation prior to their procedure to reduce any anxiety. Most patients feel so relaxed and at ease, they fall asleep during their facial cosmetic procedure.

Like any procedure, costs will vary. However, using Dr. Smyth’s fees as an example, if the submental liposuction procedure lasts you 10 years, your cost is less than 33 cents per day. If you have the lower facelift (which includes submental liposuction) performed and your results last 10 years, your cost is about $1.65/per day.

Procedure: CoolSculpting

This fat freezing treatment, first approved by the FDA in 2010, is primarily performed as an alternative to liposuction for removing excess fat in the belly area, back fat, rear end and thighs. More recently, CoolSculpting has been used to reduce fat under the chin.

CoolSculpting technology uses a special machine to suction the skin like a vacuum and to crystallize and freeze the targeted fat cells, which then dissolve over time.

CoolSculpting can work well for someone looking for mild improvements. Younger patients with neck skin that is still rather firm and whose skin will rebound after the fat freezing are likely to have the best experience. Results require several treatments and gradually appear over several weeks’ time, so don’t plan on your double chin disappearing immediately. Also, CoolSculpting will not remove loose, sagging skin in the lower face and neck area that can remain after the fat freezing treatment. Also, if you gain a lot of weight after your CoolSculpting treatment, you’ll likely see your double chin return. Fat cells are not picky; they go everywhere in your body.

Because this is a non-invasive procedure, the risks are typically low depending on the experience of the person using the CoolSculpting machine. Is an experienced facial cosmetic surgeon performing the treatment? If a licensed esthetician or assistant, what is their training and experience in administering the procedure? Bottom line, know who will be doing the work and discuss all risks in advance.

Costs vary, so do your homework and have a consultation with more than one experienced provider. Remember: Most patients need several CoolSculpting treatments to get desired results, so keep this in mind when looking at your total cost. Also, CoolSculpting treatments may need to be repeated within a couple of years.

There is no substitute for being an informed consumer. Visit more than one facial cosmetic surgeon/specialist. Ask to see before and after photos of his/her actual patients (not models). Compare costs and look at your total cost to attain the results you want. Finally, check the surgeon’s experience level. Experience matters… especially when it’s your face.