It might work, but its safety is controversial.
From donning stylish scarves to blending makeup contour, people have long concealed double chins in non-surgical ways-but for the first time, an injection promises to actually dissolve the fat away without the need for going under the knife.
Kythera Biopharmaceuticals just released results from its clinical trials with ATX-101, a purified synthetic version of deoxycholic acid. A molecule that is naturally present in the body, it helps dissolve fat. About 70 percent of subjects in the studies saw a significant improvement in their double chin-results that eclipsed even the company's projections.
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The prescribed course of treatment involves injections spaced over a few months that target fat while purportedly leaving other cells alone. According to an investment release by J.P. Morgan, the company anticipates 2015 approval for use in the U.S. and Europe.
"The injection of drugs into fat is an evolution of the technique known as mesotherapy," explains YouBeauty cosmetic surgery expert, Arthur Perry, M.D. "This particular product is one of the bile acids that can cause the death of fat cells, and as a result, can reduce the fat of a double chin."
But our expert warns that the drug has had a past shrouded in dangerous implications.
"This particular chemical has been looked at for a long time as a contributor to colon cancer. I worry about cancer being caused by a treatment like this," cautions Perry.
The board-certified plastic surgeon says he also has concerns over errant injections of the substance causing problems in adjacent tissue like nerves that also have fat in their surrounding sheaths. "There are real questions about the safety of this drug," he warns.
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Double chins can be a bother to many, and some even think the condition is genetic. "I've always had a double chin, even when I was young and not overweight. My friends used to tease me, saying they'd always know when I spotted a cute guy walking into a club-they'd imitate me doing this stork-like move of elongating my neck, thrusting out my chin and sucking in my cheeks!" shares Leigh, a college professor and YouBeauty reader.
"This has become even more upsetting, now that gravity has taken its toll. Even my friends who had terrific jawlines are starting to look turkey-necked now that we're all around age 60, and I feel like mine only looks worse," she adds.
In spite of her concerns, Leigh has been reluctant to consider surgery. Though Perry says in the case of double chins, surgery has actually been proven safest and most effective.
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"As a skeptical physician, I worry a lot about the short- and long-term safety of injecting any toxin in the body-I would prefer the destruction of fat through traditional liposuction or the newer high-energy-focused ultrasound methods," he explains, the latter of which is actually non-invasive.
"The ultrasound is particularly effective at destroying fat, and the technology is rapidly evolving so that within a few years, I expect that it will be even more effective."