For Men, a New Way to Beat the Dreaded “Double Chin”

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Top dermatologist Dr. Sonoa Au, with Advanced Dermatology PC, on the popularity of the new Kybella treatment and offers tips for managing expectations.

Dr. Sonoa Au

Over the last five years, there’s been a 43 percent rise in both surgical and nonsurgical procedures among men. The biggest area of growth in men’s procedures is in the “humble chin.”

While many people think cosmetic procedures—from a simple chemical peel to full-face plastic surgery—are almost the sole domain of women, the truth is that more and more men are signing up. According to industry statistics, American men have more than 1.3 million cosmetic procedures each year, and the numbers are rising, says Sonoa Au, MD, laser and cosmetic fellow with Advanced Dermatology PC. In fact, over the last five years, there’s been a 43 percent rise in both surgical and nonsurgical procedures among men.

The biggest area of growth in men’s procedures is in the “humble chin.” Or more specifically, the chin that may be carrying a bit too much baggage, what doctors call submental fat and most people know as a double chin. It’s not surprising that people are bothered by excess fat in the neck and under the chin—a condition that many people associate with inactivity (after all, it is fat), old age, even decreased masculinity (there’s a reason all those superheroes are chiseled, lantern-jawed guys).

Until now, the double chin was solvable only through surgery. But earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new drug called Kybella, which a doctor injects into the area to destroy the fat cells and the extra chin they create. Kybella is the chemical equivalent of deoxycholic acid, a metabolic byproduct that’s produced naturally in the body to help it absorb fats. A patient will receive several injections per treatment; most people need two to four treatments, but more severe cases can require up to six. Treatments are scheduled at least a month apart, and generally result in minimal pain and downtime compared to invasive surgeries.

So why are men so keen to reshape their chins?

A strong jaw enhances masculinity. Fair or not, both women and men are judged by their faces—and in a man that judgment often starts with the chin. “The ‘ideal’ man’s face might vary from culture to culture,” Dr. Au explains, “but generally speaking, people equate a strong jaw and defined chin with masculinity.” And while the masculine ideal varies between people and cultures, no one seems to think a double chin is all that attractive.

It’s a jungle out there. In today’s economy most people feel a good deal of pressure at work. Cosmetic procedures like Kybella can be very helpful to someone who feels he needs to look younger, fitter, and more masculine than his rivals, Dr. Au says. And it’s not only about vanity. To many men, maintaining a good appearance is just good business. It’s not at all unusual for someone in his 50s who’s competing against guys 20 years (or more) younger to want to look as young—and formidable—as possible, Dr. Au explains.

The tie feels like a choke-hold. Men with excess submental fat often complain that the standard corporate dress code—shirt and tie required—is close to torture. “Many of my patients tell me they feel like they’re being choked by their ties,” says Dr. Au. Unless these men can make every day a Casual Friday, they’re wrestling with their collars, all day long.

Selfies are not forgiving. Unfortunately, an ill-placed camera (or smartphone) can create multiple chins in almost anybody, but can be really unflattering to someone who’s got even a slight double-chin, says Dr. Au. “Social media—and all the photos that are taken and shared on Facebook and Instagram—is really driving a lot of cosmetic procedures today,” she says. “Someone sees a picture of himself online and thinks, ‘I didn’t know I looked like that from the side!’ How can I fix it?’”

It’s a (relatively) quick fix. Unlike liposuction or a facelift, both surgical procedures that require anesthesia and a good amount of downtime, Kybella is administered via injection, with only a bit of local anesthetic. “Most people would rather have a needle than a scalpel,” Dr. Au says.

Sonoa Au, M.D., has a special interest in laser and cosmetic dermatology, in addition to general dermatology.

Advanced Dermatology P.C. and the Center for Laser and Cosmetic Surgery (New York & New Jersey) is one of the leading dermatology centers in the nation with 15 locations in New York and New Jersey, offering highly experienced physicians in the fields of cosmetic and laser dermatology as well as plastic surgery and state-of-the-art medical technologies.

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Melissa Chefec
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