We all have a part of our anatomy that annoys us. For some people it’s their nose, for others their thighs, or the shape of their teeth. Most of the time it’s a wholly irrational obsession, implanted in the brain by a school bully or a throwaway comment. Nevertheless, it’s there.
For me it’s always been my chin. Even when I was very young and at my thinnest, I always had a double chin, most in evidence when I laughed. I’d look perfectly normal most of the time, then as soon as anyone said anything funny, there it was, that unflattering roly-poly pad of fat.
As the years have worn on, gravity, a podgy neck from an underactive thyroid and sitting in front of a laptop for most of the day have not helped the chin situation. Even after concerted efforts at the gym and an overall diminution in girth, my chin remained, in the parlance of modern aesthetics, an area of ‘stubborn fat’ - in cahoots with my stomach, as it happens, but that’s a whole other story.
Vicky Dondos of the Medicetics Clinic in London being a woman I trust, I asked her advice. Two options, she explained, liposuction and an injection that destroys the fat cells. Both have downtime, the former for obvious reasons, the latter owing to the fact that the area swells up massively before the fat starts to break down.
But then I heard that the people behind the FDA-approved fat-freezing machine, Coolsculpting, were bringing out a special attachment for small areas - such as the chin. Medicetics hadn’t got one (yet); but the Lazeo clinic in Notting Hill had. And so I decided to take the plunge.
Having had Coolsculpting before, on the dreaded mummy tummy, I knew what to expect. A mildly unpleasant sensation during the freezing process (in which the fat cells are cooled to the precise temperature required to destroy them, but no other surrounding tissue), followed by a rather boring hour sitting very still, followed by a thawing massage and then a couple of days of mild discomfort as the body sets about metabolising the damaged fat cells.
The first time I had it done, I experienced a good deal of bruising. The area was tender and had to take over-the-counter painkillers for several days afterwards. But the results were clearly noticeable - albeit a drop in the ocean in relation to the amount of excess blubber around my middle.
The chin, I was told, is a much easier area to treat - and the results are universally excellent. In fact, Jenni Murray, presenter of Woman’s Hour, had had it done - with a very noticeable improvement; as had the jewellery designer Dinny Hall. Good enough for them, I thought, good enough for me.
The best way of describing the process is to imagine the crevice nozzle of a vacuum cleaner being attached to your chin. Not a good look. In fact, really a rather silly look. I felt like John Travolta when he played that alien in that weird Scientology film a few years back.
But the time passed quickly enough, watching Peaky Blinders on the TV set very thoughtfully provided by the clinic (tip: the machine is very loud, so you might like to take headphones).
Afterwards, the area was just a little red, as though someone had slapped it hard. No pain and no bruising. The next morning, however, it was quite sore and a bit swollen - although not so anyone would notice. I just took some painkillers and got on with life as normal, expecting it to calm down after a day or so.
In fact, it took about 10 days before the tenderness and swelling had completely subsided, so don’t do this just before a special event or you definitely won’t look your best.
They say it takes three months to see the full benefits of the procedure. I’m about a month in, and already I’m astonished. That stubborn pad of fat that used to sit under my chin is noticeably smaller. If I accidentally click my FaceTime on my phone, the woman who comes up is only partially jowly. This is a real breakthrough.
The area feels soft and smooth, and there is no damage to the skin, nor is it saggy. That machine really has melted away most of my double chin. The effect is not only noticeable from the front, but also from the side. And the overall effect in relation to my face is subtle but very positive: like a mini face lift - only with no incision, no downtime and no danger of infection. In other words, a bit of a no-brainer.
I am told that it works similarly miraculously on the upper arms. If this is true, there will be no stopping me.
The double chin area takes between one and three hours and costs £650 for the first hour, £625 for the second and £600 for the third.