The double chin reigns supreme with hilarious nicknames, but for people who have one, that bulge of skin and fat hanging out above their collar rarely conjures up laughs.
Like other tough-to-cure problems such as cellulite and stretch marks, “remedies” on how to get rid of a double chin abound: like that medieval-looking torture device you ordered from a late-night TV infomercial. Or when you Googled “double chin” and voila, 37 million “guaranteed” solutions! And let’s be honest, you’ve probably seen that YouTube video of the lady doing neck exercises that make her look like a chicken scratching for worms — and you probably did a few of those moves yourself.
So… how’d those work out for you?
FYI, You Cannot Spot-Reduce
Before we get to the good stuff, let’s be clear: You CANNOT spot-reduce. But with a combination of a healthy, balanced diet and exercise, you can reduce your overall body fat, which can then help reduce any wobbly bits.
So why do some people have it and others don’t? First off, a double chin is technically called submental fat and it’s basically a compartment that’s filled with fat.
But what causes a double chin in the first place? A variety of factors can contribute to the appearance of a double chin, among them: weight gain, aging (your muscles in the area can weaken, fat accumulates, and skin loosens as you get older), and genetics.
“For most people, a ‘double chin’ is a combination of fat deposition, excess loose skin, or both,” says Lara Devgan, M.D., M.P.H., a plastic and reconstructive surgeon in New York City. “The single most common reason for someone to have a double chin is a genetic predisposition to storing fat in the submentum, or the area under the chin. This means that a person’s age, weight, and physique matter less than his or her genetic tendencies.”
For this reason, people are more prone to ask plastic surgeons for help, says Devgan. “I receive many inquiries from men and women concerned about excess submental fullness or double chin.”
Devgan’s strategy involves one of three options: injecting deoxycholic acid into the fat to melt it (requires multiple treatments), performing micro liposculpture to suck out excess fat, or a surgical necklift.
How to Lose Weight in Your Face
But if you’re not genetically predisposed for extra chins, you may be able to address unwanted weight in and around your face with good ol’ old-fashioned diet and exercise.
“Nutrition is a major factor for fat loss, no matter the area on the body,” says Max Zeumer, personal training manager at the New York Health & Racquet Club. First up: Dial in your eating plan and figure out your daily calorie goal for weight loss.
And remember, you can’t cut your calories and expect to lose fat while still eating junk food. Your eating plan should be filled with an abundance of nutrient-dense, whole foods in the proper proportions.
In addition to getting your nutrition and fitness on-track, getting enough z’s can also help reduce body fat. “We often neglect one of the most basic ways to aid burning fat — getting a good night’s sleep of seven to nine hours,” says Zeumer.
When you’re lacking in the sleep department, your body produces more of the hunger hormone ghrelin to get the energy it’s not getting from sleep. And when you’re bumbling around in a drowsy haze, you’re probably not going to be making the healthiest food choices.
Can You Reduce a Double Chin With Exercise?
Yes and no. (And no, we’re not going to make you do the chicken scratch dance.) In the same vein as “you can’t spot-reduce fat,” there are no exercises that will “tighten and tone” your neck muscles — or the sagging skin, for that matter.
But since your double chin is basically a fat hot pocket, a better tactic would be to focus on… (say it with me): reducing. overall. fat. To activate your body’s fat-burning superpowers, combine high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and strength training.
Bottom line: Yes, you may be able to get rid (or reduce the appearance) of a double chin, but not by using a ThighMaster for your neck or doing a facial workout. If you really want to reshape your body, you have to put in hard work, consistently, and in the right way. You’ll be surprised how many of those “problem areas” may disappear with a little sweat equity.