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Summary: One of the limitations of nonsurgical procedures has always been their inability to remove tissue and cells. When you get a nonsurgical procedures in California, for example, most of what the cosmetic surgeon will do will focus on adding volume to your targeted area. But this could change, as new research suggests there might be products in the pipeline which can target and eliminate chin fat and fat around the jawline. If the results pan out, it could be a sea change in the field of nonsurgical cosmetic surgery.

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A Wrinkle in the Treatment

When it comes to nonsurgical procedures, especially those involving wrinkle treatments and dermal fillers repurposed for procedures like rhinoplasty, it’s always been about adding volume instead of subtracting it. In fact, that’s always been the Achilles’ Heel of nonsurgical procedures—it’s simply not capable of addressing tissue that the patient wants to remove. Those rhinoplasty patients who, for example, want volume removed from their noses

A New Injectable With New Promise

However, thanks to a new injectable product, there’s hope that this dynamic may change in the near future. Research unveiled at the 2014 meeting of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery suggests that this new injectable, for now called ATX-101 (until the marketing team comes up with a catchier name), could target fatty tissue in the jawline and cheek areas and eliminate it.

This sounds almost too good to be true, right? Well, the research is promising, but you can’t quite find this material in your local medical spa quite yet. It’s still undergoing to the FDA approval process. But if the results of the clinic trials are any indication, there’s some real promise to this product.

Breaking Down Fat

Based on chemical compounds already found in nature, ATX-101 is made up of molecules called deoxycholic acid which, in its natural state, aids in the breakdown of fatty tissues. In other words—it’s what you’re body already uses to target fat and help that fat break down. It’s just, in a natural setting, this usually happens when your body needs to draw on your energy reserves. Of course, the researchers who developed ATX-101, were trying to target what’s called submental fat, and in that they seemed to succeed.

Promising Results, Broad Implications

Nearly 70% of all those who took ATX-101 registered a marked decrease in the amount of chin fat measured. And only 1.4% of those in the trials stopped taking the injectable because of negative side effects (although something like 60% of people reported some type of discomfort, usually in the form of bruising, pain, and irritation around the injection area). And, likely due to the loss of this chin fat, most of those treated with ATX-101 reported an improvement in their emotional well-being after injections.

The implications of this procedure go well beyond the removal of chin fat, though that’s certainly an exciting prospect in and of itself. Rather, this might usher in an era of nonsurgical procedures that can eliminate tissue as well as build volume. Imagine a compound designed to eliminate cartilage in the nose. Suddenly, nonsurgical rhinoplasty would include getting rid of that bump on your nose. The potential of such procedures is really quite mind-blowing.

Let’s Bring it Back Down

And, once we’ve shown all that exuberant enthusiasm, it’s worth noting that we should probably temper that enthusiasm before it gets too out of hand. After all, these were just trials. ATX-101 hasn’t even hit the market yet, and as cosmetic surgery is saturated with innovation, it’s difficult to tell whether this particular product will soar or flop. Whatever the results of this particular product, it’s encouraging—and exciting—that cosmetic surgeons are pushing the envelope of what can be accomplished without the need for traditional surgery.

The future is going to be a very bright place indeed.

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