- This procedure uses vacuum technology to break down fat, tighten skin
- It IS painful and, at £900 for a full course, not cheap
- But the results are amazing, the difference staggering
When it comes to appearance, double chins are a lot like cellulite – a great leveller, attacking fat and thin alike. A double chin and sagging jowls are also afflictions that are likely to leave you well alone in youth but target you with a vengeance in middle age.
In my case they seemed to strike almost overnight. One evening about four years ago, when I was in my mid-40s, I went to bed feeling all fresh-faced and dewy. The next morning I woke up looking like the Churchill dog. A double chin had appeared from nowhere, and there seemed to be nothing I could do about it.
Flabby tummies, flapping bingo wings and wobbly bottoms can all be hidden under clothes. But a double chin? Unless balaclavas suddenly become the height of fashion there really is no practical way of concealing one.
It’s impossible to know what to wear. Low necks show off the problem in all its glory and high necks seem only to draw attention to the area. You’re never going to take a good picture, either, because you always look as if you’re carrying a rolled-up, flesh-coloured flannel under your chin.
So what’s the answer? It’s certainly not losing weight because I’ve done that, recently shedding nearly three stone. My stomach shrank, my legs slimmed down and my bum just about halved in size. But my chubby cheeks and double chin stubbornly refused to shift.
Of course there are exercises that are supposed to help, particularly that one where you hold your neck still and repeatedly jut your chin out like a demented hen. But after doing it in front of the television for months, I can tell you that it achieves nothing other than making you look daft.
So what are the options? Painful liposuction to remove fat under the chin, or expensive face and neck lifts that would require days of downtime and leave scars, are the main ones. But then I heard about Dr Jules Nabet, a renowned aesthetic doctor who had apparently pioneered a new non-invasive treatment designed to zap double chins, lift jowls and keep turkey necks at bay.
The Reaction Skin Tightening procedure works by combining a rather scary-sounding technique called Multiple Radio Frequency with vacuum technology to break down fat and tighten the skin.
Dr Nabet says: ‘The idea came as a direct result of the overwhelming demand I had from clients for a good non-surgical solution to double chins and jowls. It’s the only available treatment that penetrates all three skin layers. It’s not painful and the results are long-lasting.’
Although some patients detect a difference after just one treatment, a course of six is recommended to achieve the full effect, with each session lasting about 25-30 minutes. One session costs £180, or you can pay £900 for a course of six.
Excited, I booked in for my first appointment at Dr Nabet’s surgery in Kensington, West London.
I lay down on the treatment bed while Kate, my therapist, applied a layer of glycerine-based gel to my jaw, chin and neck, then set to work with the somewhat alarming-looking gun-like contraption that she held in her hand.
On that occasion, to ease me in gently, I had vacuum therapy only. This is where a suction device is used to penetrate the deep tissue, boost blood circulation, promote lymphatic drainage and break up pockets of fat.
The treatment, while not painful, wasn’t particularly pleasant or relaxing either. The best way to describe it is like having your face attacked by a Dyson.
But, to be perfectly honest, having my baggy jowls treated like a grubby living-room rug was something I was more than prepared to tolerate if it achieved results.
I was warned that my face and neck would look red and blotchy afterwards and I did fear the worst, as I have very pale and sensitive skin. But the markings weren’t really that bad, and after an hour in the fresh air all the redness had disappeared.
The next day I thought my chin and jawline seemed a little less ‘meaty’ than usual. But was I just willing the treatment to work?
After leaving the recommended week between treatments, I went for my second session with Kate.
This time the treatment was made up of half vacuum therapy and half Multiple Radio Frequency, where a hand-held machine heats up the layers of skin to encourage collagen production and create a long-term tightening effect.
As regards this part of the treatment, I have to disagree with Dr Nabet’s ‘not painful’ assertion. At first it was bearable but then, as the surface of my skin heated up, it made me flinch.
A blast of heat was aimed, via the gun, at various specific areas. Even though the heat-burst lasts a split second, I could feel it quite intensely in areas where there wasn’t much padding, such as the jawline and the neck.
The pain reminded me very much of the sensation when you’re frying bacon and some of the fat spits up and hits you in the face.
It was quick, sharp and unpleasant and in this case there was no lovely sandwich to tuck into at the end to make you feel better.
The heat treatment caused my skin to go much redder than the vacuum therapy alone did, and I looked quite sore and sunburnt immediately afterwards. But within an hour I was back to normal.
As I was leaving, Kate warned me of something they call the ‘Cinderella Effect’, which apparently hits about a third of women having the treatment – where you spend about 24 hours looking seriously saggy and baggy.
Rather than being cause for alarm, this is, apparently, an excellent sign that your new jawline is about to be revealed, looking radiant and ravishing. It means that the collagen in your face is responding, causing you to sag temporarily before it all ‘pings’ back tighter and tauter than ever.
The next day I peered nervously in my bathroom mirror, wondering what horror would greet me. But I didn’t look too hag-like at all (well, no more than usual).
Two days later, however, I saw a noticeable difference around my jaw and chin area. It looked trimmer and more defined, and for the first time in months I could actually tell where my chin ended and my neck began.
The third session couldn’t come soon enough, but, after my fourth session, disaster struck.
The vacuum therapy left some decidedly dodgy red marks on my neck that strongly resembled teenage love bites.
These might be forgivable on a teenage girl but are pitiful and extremely embarrassing for a 47-year-old woman. After my treatment I had to rush into TK Maxx to buy a cheap scarf to cover my shame. It took three days for the marks to disappear completely.
At my next two sessions Kate plastered on extra-thick layers of the protection gel and the love-bites problem was eradicated.
I also seemed to have built up more tolerance to the Multiple Radio Frequency treatment, to the extent that it no longer felt as if I was being splattered with hot fat – more like being flicked with an elastic band.
And the results, much to my surprise, were (are!) amazing.
I am a beauty treatment sceptic but I am in no doubt that this treatment worked.
My jawline doesn’t just look a little bit better. The difference is staggering.
My jowls are far less obvious, my double chin has disappeared, my jawline is more prominent and my face looks slimmer overall.
The start of that horrible ‘turkey neck’ looseness has also been nipped nicely in the bud. All this is more than worth the pain.
Kate told me that one of her clients was so delighted with the results of the therapy on her face and neck that she is having it done over her entire body, as the treatment also works well on thighs, buttocks and bingo wings.
At £180 a go the Reaction therapy is not cheap, but two sessions were sufficient for me to see a clear difference and six were enough to zap the problem for good, meaning that it’s still a third of the price you’d pay for surgery.
More importantly, it’s now a month since I had my last treatment and the results have lasted, with no sign of my second chin creeping back.