Whether it is done consciously or unconsciously, we visually discern a person’s overall body weight and physique by examining the amount of fat in the face and neck. Since the face is the first thing that we see when we look at someone, the amount of fat in the neck and face leads us to make a judgment about the fat and muscle content of the entire person. Sadly, the amount of fat in the face and neck is not always indicative of the fat in the entire person. As we pick up fat we can certainly add additional fat to the face and neck however, the converse is not always true. As we lose weight it is often the fat in the face and neck that is the last to go. Also, as we age, fat accumulates in the chin, jowls, and neck which causes the border of the jaw (mandible) to become softer and less pronounced. Our eye picks up on that lack of a sharp border and our brain thinks “obesity.”
In order to combat this unfortunate fact of fat distribution, many people choose to undergo a chin liposuction procedure. Chin liposuction, also called submental liposuction, is a safe procedure that creates a very aesthetically pleasing result. The procedure usually lasts less than an hour and can be done under local anesthesia (i.e. anesthetic is injected under the skin while the patient is awake) or general anesthesia (i.e. the patient is unconscious or “put to sleep”). If you are having a procedure under local anesthesia, IV sedation may be an option to help you relax.
The neck is numbed with local anesthetic and the area is infiltrated (filled) with saline using an approach called the tumescence technique. This technique helps “lift” the skin off of the underlying tissue so that the liposuction cannula can reach all areas of the neck and chin. Very small incisions (5 mm or less than a half of an inch) are made just under the chin and under the ears. The thin liposuction cannula is inserted in these areas and uses high frequency oscillations to liquefy the fat and then suck it out through something like a vacuum. The surgeon’s goal is to sculpt the fat in this area, not to remove it all. If the cheeks need to have fat removed from them, additional small incisions may be needed.
After the chin liposuction you may not be able to eat solid foods right away. You will likely have to return to the surgeon’s office twice, once in the first one or two days after the procedure and then again about five days later. The first appointment is so that the surgeon can evaluate the area and clean the incisions. The latter appointment is for suture (stitch) removal. You will begin to shower the day after surgery but you should avoid exercise or any activity that raises blood pressure for the first three weeks after chin liposuction. Massaging the area is important to smooth out fat pockets and blood pools and may be safely started three weeks after surgery.
Chip liposuction offers a very safe and effective means to reduce some of the signs of aging and to restore a thin, healthy look to the face and neck.