A new in-office treatment promises to dissolve chin fat without the downtime of surgery. Writer Leah Rumack sticks her neck out for a beauty adventure
Orginally published May 17 2017 in The Kit
My chins and I have never been friends. I find them flappy and frumpy, and for as long as I can remember, I’ve had (at least) two of them. Double chins are sometimes caused by weight gain, but often they’re genetic. So while it’s possible I’m not the most sylphlike I’ve ever been, even at my wedding day fighting weight I had to weed through many a non- flattering side-angle snap to create a photo album that didn’t look like my husband had married Jabba the Hutt in mascara. Now, one kid and a few (okay, 25) pounds later, my chins’ genetic destinies have seen them blossom into their most highly actualized selves. I’ve had it. It’s time for them to go plague some other middle-aged ingenue! Methods that claim to banish extra chins have been around forever, but they’re not terrifically convincing, or appealing. (Anyone feel like embarking on a rigorous facial exercise program? No? Me neither).
Over the past few years, creams that target and tighten the thinner and less elastic skin of the neck and décolleté have become de rigueur in the beauty junkie’s arsenal. Until recently, however, the only way to truly rid yourself of a jowly jawline was liposuction or a face or neck lift (or all three)—surgery that requires, well, surgery, plus downtime and the wearing of many cartoon-like bandages. So I’m intrigued when I read about a possible magical elixir that has recently been approved by Health Canada: Belkyra (a.k.a. Kybella), which is an injectable treatment made of a synthetic form of deoxcycholic acid that dissolves the stubborn fat under the chin. I quiz my dermatologist, Toronto based Dr. Nowell Solish, about this enticing new treatment—he was one of the doctors recruited for the studies to get the drug approved. He gives my chinny chin chins a squeeze and tells me I’m a good fit for Belkyra. “ The best candidates are people who have genetic submental fat—a double chin,” he says. “It’s what we call diet resistant, so if you lose weight, it doesn’t seem to change very much. You also need people with good skin tone. When you remove the fat, you want the skin to tighten around the area, otherwise you’re just trading it for hanging skin, so the ideal candidate is younger.”
The good news is that in dermatologist terms, “younger” generally means in your 40s. The treatment isn’t cheap, though. Most people need more than one treatment (which involves up to 50 tiny injections at a time) spaced at least a month apart, and depending on how much fat you have, it’s about $1000 a pop. In my case, Solish estimates two to three treatments would do the trick. Before I plunk down those kinds of shekels, I decide to try a lower-tech option. I check into the Four Seasons Toronto Spa for a facial featuring the new Firming Neck Cream from Omorovicza, a cult skincare line from a grand old Budapest family that owns skin-rejuvenating hot springs. Chock full of white truffle enzymes and leontopodic acid from edelweiss flowers, the cream promises to firm and help my jawline appear “more sharply defined.” I emerge utterly dewy and smelling like Switzerland, and I dutifully apply the light, luxe cream for weeks. My neck and chest do look fresher and tighter, but edelweiss is no match for my chins.
I find myself back in Solish’s office wincing as he needles me many, many times under my chin. He injected an anesthetic beforehand, but still, it doesn’t tackle. Common side effects for Belkyra are swelling, bruising, pain, numbness, redness and areas of hardness in the treatment area—I get them all. My chins swell to bullfrog proportions and stay that way for almost a week, and I’m sore for at least six (“That means it’s working!” Solish assures me.) I try to catch my profile in the mirror. Are my chins shrinking? I don’t believe it until I go back for treatment number two and he cheerily shows me my “before” snaps. It’s true—the chins are running scared! They will be vanquished! Because there’s less fat to gobble up this time, the swelling is much less impressive, and I’m sore for only a few days. I’ll need one more treatment until my profile is as sleek and sharp as a razor. In the meantime, I will smear myself in edelweiss flower cream and never, ever look to the side.