A new injectable drug designed to eliminate double chins without surgery was unanimously recommended for approval by a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee this week.
The drug, currently known as ATX-101, now only needs to receive final FDA approval before it becomes available to the public.
Unlike current double chin surgeries, which require doctors to 'cut it out or suck it out,' ATX-101 will be a 'noninvasive, in-the-office procedure,' according to Dr. Susan Weinkle.
Weinkle, a dermatologist who has been working with ATX-101 since 2007, said many people have fat underneath the chin, even if 'they're not fat in the rest of their body', she told ABC News.
To insert the drug, Weinkle marks the area where she sees the 'max amount of fat' with a grid of tiny dots, which act as the injection sites for the ATX-101.
Weinkle says the procedure only takes about five minutes and patients heal in two to three days - and don't even need to wear a bandage.
The drug is a formulation of deoxycholic acid, a 'naturally occurring molecule' that helps our bodies break down the fat we receive from food, according to manufacturer KYTHERA Biopharmaceuticals.
Dr. Derek Jones, who presented ATX-101 to the FDA, said the drug destroys the membrane of the fat cells underneath the double chin.
This causes the fat cell to burst. Its remains are naturally absorbed back into the body, while the cell is destroyed permanently.
As with any drug, there are side effects.
They include short-lasting swelling, bruising and numbness that was found to be 'mild to moderate', according to dermatologist Adam M. Rotunda.
Fleeting pain at the site of the injections was also reported.
Rotunda noted in the trials that the intensity of the side effects decreased with each additional treatment session, he told Dermatology Times.
Although the drug reaches its maximum desired effect if the patient undergoes six treatments spaced a month apart, Rotunda said he does not believe 'most patients' will require that many.
Rotunda said ATX-101 could be a game-changer in terms of what dermatologists can do when patients are worried about their neck. 'We've been accustomed to addressing patient aesthetic concerns primarily from the chin up,' he told Dermatology Times. 'However, the neck...is critical in framing the lower half of the face and creating our profile. Changes in the neck as we age or gain weight can have profound effect on our self-esteem.'
Dr. Michael Edwards, president of the Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, said not everyone is a good candidate for the drug.
He told NBC News he worries that, after ATX-101 is approved, people will use the drug to try and fix larger areas of fat.
But according to Weinkle, the drug is 'not a weight loss treatment' and needs to be administered properly so that patients get a 'very even reduction of fat.'
She warns that physicians must 'understand the anatomy' of the area underneath the chin, which houses delicate nerves that should not be touched.
Edward recommends patients only receive the procedure from trained 'board certified experts'.
ATX-101 has been tested in 19 clinical studies with 2,600 patients.
It will not be covered by insurance and the approximate cost is not yet known.
MARCH 14, 2015
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