A new injection called ATX-101 is nearing FDA approval which, for the first time, targets the fat cells in the neck area to smooth away double chins. (Photo: Getty Images)
We can freeze our wrinkles, smooth our fine lines and zap away our skin imperfections. But the biggest cosmetic complaint of many — the double chin — has been neglected in the world of noninvasive cosmetic surgery advances. The traditional way to treat a double chin has been with a full-on face lift. But that may be about change.
An injection called ATX-101, which targets double chins, is nearing approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). On Monday the drug was backed by an independent panel to the FDA, which brings it one step closer to full approval. ATX-101 consists of deoxycholic acid that’s injected into skin to target and eliminate fat cells under the chin without spreading to surrounding tissue. Its maker, Kythera Biopharmaceuticals Inc., hopes to make the injections available in the back half of 2015.
“This drug is going to be a game changer – no question about it,” Nashville dermatologist, Michael Gold, MD, tells Yahoo Health; Gold participated in clinical studies of the drug. “It worked incredibly well in patients who were treated, as shown by results versus placebo. It’s indicated for the neck, but I won’t be surprised if people use this off-label with other areas of the body, like we saw with Botox,” he adds.
While double chins may be caused by natural genetics, advancing age and weight gain, experts say ATX-101 currently works best on a certain case type. “The ideal candidate is a younger individual with good skin elasticity and a milder double chin — it’s not going to replace a lift yet,” says New York facial plastic surgeon and president-elect of the Facial Plastic Surgery & Reconstructive Surgery Academy (AAFPRS), Edwin Williams, MD.
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The full treatment will be a series of injections spaced no less than a month apart. “Many patients experienced meaningful improvement in two to four treatments,” says San Diego dermatologist Sabrina Guillen Fabi, MD, who was a principal investigator in the Phase II clinical trial of the drug, which saw 68.2 percent of patients respond positively, as compared to a 20.5 percent placebo rate.
ATX-101 comes at a time when solutions for double chins and sagging necks are the most searched cosmetic terms among the middle-aged. “In our market research, we found that future interest in pursuing help to change the appearance of body parts drops dramatically after age 44, with the one very big exception of changes to the neck. It’s such a popular topic of conversation, that we just added a discussion forum dedicated to it this year,” says RealSelf.com founder and CEO Tom Seery.
Aiding the potential popularity of the new drug is the fact that double chins and excess neck fat are very common complaints brought to cosmetic specialists, and yet nothing outside of surgery currently exists to improve the issue. Gold says that once approval comes, combining the injection with a fractionated ultrasound technology like Ultherapy may bring even more dramatic results – though further clinical studies would have to be done to determine the best protocol.
And while there has been no hint of pricing yet, our experts hypothesize that ATX-101 will be similar to high-end skin tightening treatments on the market, and perhaps cost upwards of $2,000+ per treatment, depending on the severity of the case and the regional area.
Better start saving those pennies now.