Gobble, gobble: Your double chin days may soon be history. A new injectable drug promises to melt the fat from your neck, taking away that extra flap once and for all.
Currently known as ATX-101, the drug’s main active ingredient is deoxycholic acid, a chemical found naturally in the human body. The bile breaks down fat as part of the digestive process. When injected into fat cells, it causes them to rupture. We are all born with a certain number of fat cells, and they get skinnier or fatter over time. But once destroyed, they’re gone for good. Genius.
The treatment protocol includes a series of injections performed over the course of several months. Dermatologists warn that the procedure must be performed by a well-trained professional. In order to avoid complications, the administrator must have a deep knowledge of throat anatomy and be trained in the very precise injection sites and depth of injection. Because of the extremely specific application process, the company that makes the drug, Kythera, is only seeking approval for use on “submental fat”—or as we call it, the double chin.
“My biggest concern is once it is approved, people will start to use it for other areas of the face or for larger volumes (of fat) in other areas,” said Dr. Michael Edwards, president of the Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery to NBC News.
ATX-101 is not meant to reduce BMI or be a method of weight-loss. For fat reduction over a larger surface area (see the dreaded stomach, thighs, glutes), liposuction remains the gold standard of cosmetic procedures. (There’s always also the option of controlling diet and exercise.)
So far, side effects have come just from the injections themselves: Pain, bruising, swelling, numbness. A few people reported scarier problems like a swollen neck. But so far, there are no long-term side effects. Other than a smaller wattle.
ATX-101 is part of the dramatic increase in cosmetic surgery in the U.S. More than 55 million cosmetic surgery procedures will be performed in 2015, according to a recent study in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. That is over four times the number of procedures performed just 10 years ago in 2005.
And it doesn’t come cheap: According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, Americans spent more than 12 billion dollars on surgical and nonsurgical procedures last year. No word yet on how much ATX-101 would cost.
The Today Show conducted a poll on its web site of how many people would get the procedure, and 94% said they would do it.
So the question is, will it be approved? An FDA advisory panel just gave it the green light, so now it comes up for a final vote later this spring. If approved, it could be available the second half of this year —just in time for Thanksgiving.
Only this year, you can leave the gobbling to the turkey.