The Double Chin: Genetics, Aging and Plastic Surgery

Quick: What’s the first thing you do when you snap a selfie? Besides turning to the side and smiling wide, it’s probably disguising your chin. As a society, we can’t stand to see loose skin framing the lower half of our faces.

At Smith Cosmetic Surgery, we regularly get requests about how to tackle this vexing area of the face. It’s not surprising. We all want to get rid of unsightly skin along the chin because it can create an imbalanced look or cause the rest of the face to appear more aged than it really is.

While unwanted fat or sagging skin is one of the most pronounced emblems of mature skin, it’s also one of the most misunderstood. Genetics, lifestyle and aging can all affect the chin and neck areas in different ways. Dr. Brent J. Smith works extra hard to educate patients of all ages about the chin—and surgical options to improve its appearance.

Double chins and weak chins defined

photo illustration of plastic surgery to resolve a double chinFirst, let’s define two very common hereditary chin issues: the double chin and the “weak” chin. The appearance of a “double chin” is one of the most common concerns among aging adults, but it’s also a bit of a misnomer. The double chin is certainly not a second rigid chin; it’s actually an extra layer of submental fat under the natural chin.

While weight gain or obesity may come into play, often a double chin is hereditary and may have nothing to do with how healthy you are. While this condition may not be as apparent at a young age, the natural aging process can make a genetic double chin especially pronounced, usually starting in the 40s and occasionally earlier.

A great example of this is our good friend Bethany. At age 32, she came to Dr. Smith about her double chin. She was young and fit, so she wondered why she had a layer of fat at her chin that didn’t appear anywhere else on her body.

before and after of plastic surgery to resolve a double chin
Bethany: Before and after her procedure to address a double chin.

Dr. Smith explained that it wasn’t her fault. It was most likely a condition she was born with that became more obvious as she got older. He used liposuction to remove the unnecessarily plump part as well as a small chin implant to expose the beauty of Bethany’s real chin.

At Smith Cosmetic Surgery, liposuction is commonly combined with a cheek and neck mini lift. Dr. Smith uses the same tiny incisions to achieve both a reduction in fat and a natural-looking lift of the musculature in the lower half of the face.

Another common chin concern is the “weak” or receding chin. This is usually related to a hereditary condition called retrogenia, when the chin naturally projects slightly backward toward the neck. However, sometimes this recession can mimic the look of a double chin.

Luckily there’s a highly effective surgical solution for a weak chin. Dr. Smith adds a bone-like implant at the chin area, often in combination with liposuction and a mini lift. Additionally, after a chin and neck lift the Smith Cosmetic Surgery team can apply a non-surgical laser treatment to bring out the best in the skin and help highlight the new results.

Entirely different from hereditary issues like the double or weak chin, are changes in the chin and neck area as we age. People often confuse a combination of accumulated fat and fullness over time, along with natural muscle dissention and skin accumulation, with a double chin. In many ways they appear the same. It can be confusing.

That’s where Dr. Smith’s expertise comes in. He can help patients distinguish between hereditary and aging chin issues and plan the right treatment for the right chin.

Why plastic surgery alternatives may not work

photo illustration of woman's chin after cosmetic surgery to resolve a double chinSadly, many nonsurgical quick fixes are sold as solutions for an unattractive double chin, and patients are often coerced in to believing these alternatives are a long-term fix. But most simply do not work for the condition being presented.

We know this because Dr. Smith regularly works with patients who have tried other tempting remedies. For example, three widely marketed alternatives claim to do the following: “destroy fat cells” through an injection under the skin; use ultrasound to “lift” skin; and “freeze” fat cells to achieve a desired look.

As trained professionals led by an expert in the field of facial plastic surgery, we can tell you that we’ve rarely seen or heard of these procedures producing satisfactory, extended results. The goal of Dr. Smith and his staff is to help educate patients to the fact that facial plastic surgery, sometimes in combination with liposuction or an implant, is a viable, long-lasting solution for a double chin and most major signs of aging at the chin.

Remember, a double, weak, or sagging chin doesn’t have to limit the life you live. It’s time to hold your head a little higher. Contact Smith Cosmetic Surgery to see what we can do for you.