Midwest Facial Plastic Surgery

Conveniently Located to Serve Minneapolis-St. Paul and Washington County

Kybella® vs. Surgical Neck Lift

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The Duel of the “Double Chin”

Just a few short years ago, your options were incredibly limited to improve the appearance of your neckline. In fact, a Surgical Neck Lift and/or liposuction were among the only procedures available to reduce the appearance of a “double chin.” But suddenly, in 2015, a new treatment called Kybella® entered the market, promising to dissolve excess fat in the chin area, all without the need for surgery. Lasers that claimed to destroy chin fat with high heat or freezing temperatures soon followed. Although these advancements in neck rejuvenation are exciting, the increased number of options can leave patients feeling confused. Now, more than ever, it is important to consult with a board-certified facial plastic surgeon to decide if a surgical or non-surgical option is most beneficial to YOUR neckline.

According to the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, submental fullness (double chin), is a concern of nearly 68% of all Americans. With origins that are sometimes genetic and other times due to weight gain or aging skin, a double chin is a combination of excess subcutaneous fat and a certain amount of lax skin. Together, these components give the appearance of a fold, or extra chin, at a patient’s neckline.

Although the appearance of a double chin can improve with weight loss efforts, many patients who are close to their ideal weight can still experience submental fullness. In fact, a double chin is oftentimes resistant to exercise and overall weight loss and can be highly frustrating. Many patients choose to disguise the appearance with turtlenecks or scarves and for many, a double chin can severely impact their confidence in their appearance.

“It always makes me sad to hear a patient discuss how vulnerable the appearance of their chin or neck area has made them feel,” shares Dr. Christopher Tolan, Facial Plastic Surgeon with Midwest Facial Plastic Surgery. “The appearance of their double chin oftentimes makes them shy away from taking pictures with their families, avoid dating, and even impacts what clothes they choose to wear,” he continues. “Our goal is to educate patients to know that there are multiple treatments options available to them and that together we can come up with a solution that will get them great results and fit their lifestyle!”


Approved by the FDA in 2015, Kybella® (deoxycholic acid) is manufactured by Allergan, the company which created Botox®. At that time, it was the first, non-surgical treatment for dissolving excess fat under the chin and improving the contour of the jawline. When injected into targeted fat areas behind the chin, Kybella® causes the rapid destruction and absorption of fat cells while also preventing future fat accumulation. After treatment, the fat is cleared from the area by the body’s natural metabolic process. When injected properly, Kybella® targets only fat cells; all other cells and tissue remain unaffected. Treatment can require up to six different sessions, spaced about a month apart depending on the initial amount of fat under the chin. Downtime is minimal with a slight tenderness, bruising and swelling for up to 2 weeks.

Surgical Neck Lift

Sometimes dissatisfaction with the appearance of the neck/chin area can be more related to loose skin and lax neck muscles than to excess fat, think “Turkey Neck.” This is where a Surgical Neck Lift is most beneficial. During surgery, small incisions are strategically placed under the chin and/or behind the ears. Next, your physician will separate neck muscles from skin and tighten them to a more youthful positioning with sutures. Finally, neck skin is re-draped and any excess is carefully trimmed away. Typical recovery from a Surgical Neck Lift procedure is 10 to 14 days, with a return to strenuous activity at 4 to 6 weeks.

Kybella® injections and a Surgical Neck Lift are very different procedures in both mechanism and results. Where Kybella® is a fantastic option for patients who truly just want to reduce the volume of fat under their chins, it does very little for skin tightening of loose tissue. This is where the Surgical Neck Lift shines, as it can not only remove fat, but also reposition muscle and tighten excess skin for true rejuvenation.

When it all comes down to it, you and your physician will discuss if you simply need volume reduction, in which case Kybella® may be an effective option, or if you need true correction in not only volume, but in tightening sagging skin. In this case, a Surgical Neck Lift may be a better option for optimal outcomes.

Regardless of what procedure your physician recommends, the results of BOTH procedures seem to be worth it! Kybella® currently has a 95% “WORTH IT” rating on RealSelf by thousands of patients. In turn, Surgical Neck Lift gets a 94% “WORTH IT” rating by patients seeking full rejuvenation of their necklines!

Ready to ditch YOUR double chin? Call (651) 632-9700 to discuss Kybella® and/or Surgical Neck Lift with one of our Double Board-Certified Facial Plastic Surgeons!