ATX-101

Amiya Prasad M.D. Dr. Prasad's Blog

Fat Dissolving Drug for Double Chins Reaching FDA Approval.

kythera biopharmaceuticalsATX-101, a drug designed to reduce fat under the chin to reduce double chins non-surgically, is currently under FDA approval. FDA clearance for the drug is expected by May 2015.
The fat that causes double chins is called submental fat. ATX-101 uses deoxycholic acid to dissolve this fat through an injection. This holds promise because reducing this fat currently involves facial liposuction/liposculpture that draws the fat out, which is a more invasive procedure. Reduction of submental fat is done through facelifting surgery. Another less invasive way to reduce submental fat is through diet and exercise.

Precedent Set by Lipo Dissolve

A non-surgical injection treatment sounds very promising for both doctors, and patients with double chins, but caution must exercised. A similar product called Lipo Dissolve has been available on the market, but never received FDA approval. Several states and countries have banned Lipo Dissolve. It has worked at “melting” fat in some patients after hundreds of injections done through a mesotherapy device. However, many patients have not responded with any fat reduction using Lipo Dissolve, and others have gotten permanent scarring from the application. Personally, I don’t use or advise Lipo Dissolve because I will not put my patients through unproven and risky procedures, or use any medication or material that has not undergone FDA approval and extensive clinical tests. Lipo-Dissolve has managed without FDA approval because it is not pre-packaged, and can be mixed with existing compounds by a pharmacy. It is not approved for use by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery, and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery does not recommend the drug because they have found no convincing evidence it works. The double blind placebo study that’s required for testing and FDA approval was not performed for Lipo-Dissolve. Medical personnel who came up with the application, or use it in their practices cannot say exactly how Lipo Dissolve removes fat.

Safety of ATX-101 – Only in Experienced Hands

ATX-101 has gone through more studies and testing that Lipo Dissolve ever did. It will not likely be repeat of the trouble experienced with Lipo Dissolve. However, ATX-101 will carry its own risks which will be associated with the medical personnel applying it. Upon FDA approval, many doctors will be rushing to offer ATX-101 injections. However, many of these doctors will be offering the latest non-surgical cosmetic treatment, but have not performed the procedures it’s suppose to replace such as liposuction/liposculpture or facelifts that ATX-101. This is not meant to disparage doctors, but consumers seeking cosmetic medical treatment should seek it from experienced cosmetic doctors who have regularly perform cosmetic procedures in the lower face and chin area. ATX-101 may hold a lot of promise, but it is also non-reversible procedure if too much of the material is used, or if it is placed incorrectly or in the wrong area. The doctors who apply it must have the knowledge and experience to address these issues quickly and in real-time when the procedure is being done. The only types of doctors who know how to handle these situations are cosmetic surgeons who perform facelifts and liposuction/liposculpture. This is not about inter-specialty rivalry among doctors, it is about medical experience to ensure patient safety and satisfaction.

A Double Chin May Require No Medical Intervention at All

It is a misconception that experienced cosmetic surgeons like myself will always push for cosmetic surgery so they can charge more. In fact, the advice I give my patients with double chins, and also among people asking my opinion through the internet platforms, is often to solve a double chin with no medical intervention whatsoever – diet and exercise. Submental fat, along with other types of facial and body fat, are caused by excessive or non-nutritional food, and not enough exercise. The first step in correcting a double chin lies in the person’s desire to correct it, and the discipline to change their diet and exercise routine. It goes without saying that this goes beyond the surgeon’s control. Many of my patients for liposuction, facelifts, breast lifts, and other procedures are people who bettered themselves with diet and exercise, and I help them with enhancing their efforts in the final stages.

Tempered Optimism for ATX-101

I myself am looking forward to seeing what ATX-101 can do, and will be happy to offer it to my patients as an option, but first I’ll need to know the science behind its efficacy, and be certain that risks to patients are minimal. There are risks involved in every medical procedure, but experience, caution, and a conservative approach to new procedures, rather than joining in on the hype, will ultimately give patients the best and safest results they want.