Q: I am an 18 year old looking to correct “witch’s chin” deformity or chin ptosis. I do not know of any doctors in my area who have experience with this procedure, so I am seeking your advice and hopefully you can educate me a bit more about my case. The problem is that I have a lot of extra soft tissue in my chin that folds under and looks very awkward when I smile. I had a consultation with a plastic surgeon who said he would scrape out some of the fat and pull the skin back. He also said that he would cut the muscle. I know he has not seen this case before and that is why I have not confirmed the surgery with him. How exactly is this surgery performed and what are the different ways to go about it? How complicated is the procedure? What are the risks of going to somebody who has not done it before and how high is the risk of causing a deformity? I have attached some photo of me smiling and not smiling from both a front and side views. Your insight is very much appreciated! Thank you.
A: Based on your photos, you are correct in that you do indeed have a witch’s chin deformity. The smiling view magnifies the redundancy of muscle and skin and pulls it down abnormally over a pointy bony chin. In the truest definition of a witch’s chin, it is a deformity that occurs after some form of bone chin manipulation. Your case is different in that this is a developmental/congenital problem and not an iatrogenic or surgically-caused one. In these non-surgical cases, the bony chin is also protrusive and that can be seen at rest in your profile view. So the actual anatomic proboem is one of ‘too much chin’ from all tissues involved.
Surgical correction is done from an incision underneath the chin, what is known as a submental approach and the overall procedure can be called a submental chin reduction. From below the chin bone is shaved down and excess muscle, fat and skin is removed. The chin is then reshaped by adapting the shortened soft tissues over the reduced bone. This is not a complex procedure but must be done carefully and all chin tissues musts be reduced and tightened. The trade-off is a scar under the chin. I have attached a patient example of the procedure for you to see the results and the scar.
Dr. Barry Eppley