Kybella | How It Dissolves a Double Chin
What is Kybella? Can you tell me more about it? Kybella is a fairly new addition to the aesthetics market. It was approved by the FDA late in 2015 to treat a double chin. It won a 2015 Allure Best of Beauty Breakthrough Award because it works!
People are using it as an alternative to liposuction because Kybella uses injections only. No surgery required! It eliminates fat under your chin gradually - usually over a period of several months.
Kybella was discovered through research on mesotherapy - which is really popular in France. But I'm not going to talk about that much in this post, because I already covered it in an earlier post, Mesotherapy vs. Liposuction - Which Is Better?
How does Kybella work? Bile is a fluid made by your liver. It's continually produced and stored in your gallbladder until it is needed. When you eat fatty foods, bile is pushed into your small intestine where it breaks down the fats in the food that you ate.
Kybella is a man made version of one of the components of bile called Deoxycholic acid (DC). The DC destroys the fat cell membranes, and releases the fat into your body as cellular debris. The fat and the DC both are then cleared by your lymphatic and circulatory systems. They're metabolized, broken down, then excreted as waste by the body. The whole process takes several weeks.
What's the treatment like? You may have as many as 50 injections at each treatment. The Kybella is injected into the fat under your chin. The number of injections depends on the amount of fat being treated and how you want your neck to look.
Does it hurt? For most people a topical numbing cream and ice keep the pain manageable. Some people get an "aching" pain that is well controlled with ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
Dr. Dr. S. Manjula Jegasothy, a cosmetic dermatologist in Miami, says the injected area will sting for about 10 minutes. “While applying ice can help alleviate the pain, most patients still experience some discomfort. Nevertheless, applying ice packs and taking painkillers will reduce some of the swelling and help with the pain.”
Am I going to look funny afterward? You should expect a significant amount of swelling, with the first treatment especially.
“If you’re considering Kybella treatments you need to accept that you’ll have 50-70% extra volume in the area for 2-3 weeks,” says Dr. Jegasothy. “Therefore, it’s important to be practical and not schedule your treatment for at least 1 month before an important event, like a wedding, family event, party or photo shoot.”
How many treatments does it take? Most people (59%) need 6 treatments. 6 is the most you can safely have.
How long does each appointment last? How often do I have to go? Your appointment should be about 15 - 20 minutes. Treatments are scheduled a month or more apart.
How long does it last? Once the fat cells are destroyed, they can't store or accumulate fat. As long as you maintain a healthy weight, you shouldn't need more treatment.
Do people like it? Kybella has a 75% "Worth It" rating on RealSelf.com based on 200 ratings over the last 2 years.
Are there any side effects? Typical side effects are swelling, bruising, pain, numbness, redness and areas of hardness.
What about bad side effects? Are there any? Good training in the technique alleviates most of the following side effects. When Kybella is injected directly into the fat, using the grid supplied by the maker, Allergan, medical providers are much less likely to hit nerves and cause skin complications.
- Nerve injury in the jaw that can temporarily cause an uneven smile or facial muscle weakness (experienced by 4% of people in clinical studies) - In the studies, this resolved on its own in 44 days (This is the median, with a range of anywhere from 1 - 298 days.)
- Trouble swallowing (experienced by 2% of people in clinical studies). In the studies, this resolved on its own in 3 days (This is the median, with a range of anywhere from 1 - 81 days.).
- If Kybella isn't injected deep enough, it can destroy other types of cells, like skin cells.
- Some people don't get a good result. In most cases it happens when patients don't have the number of treatments that their medical injector recommends. In some cases, the person is one of a very small percentage of people who get no benefit from their Kybella injections. They're called nonresponders.
Dr. Deborah Sherman, an Oculofacial plastic surgeon in Nashville, Tennessee said that in Kybella clinical trials,
“We had less than 10% nonresponders. We know that every time deoxycholate hits a fat cell, the cell explodes and dies. Actually, if you look at other modalities that reduce the fat, there’s a much higher incidence of nonresponders.”
When will I see the results? It can take a few months for the fat to be reabsorbed. Your body will make new collagen and you'll start to see some skin tightening.
Do I need to do anything special to care for the area? Not really. Men can shave. You can wash your face. Exercise is fine the same day as treatment, but you might be sore.
Which people get the best results? The people who are happiest with their results are not interested in surgery and have a moderate amount of fat beneath their chin. People with more fat will benefit also, but their results aren't so noticeable.
Is there anyone who should not use Kybella?
- People with large amounts of fat or significantly sagging skin on their neck won't get a good result. For them, the best option is surgery.
- People who have an infection in the treatment area
- Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use Kybella.
- People with too little fat under their chin are not good candidates either. Because the area of fat is so close to their nerves, these people can have more healing issues and pain.
How much does it cost? Kybella's cost is very dependent on the number of treatments you need and the cost in the area where you live. Less fat = fewer treatments = lower cost.
RealSelf.com lists the price range in Denver at $1000 - $1500. Based on these numbers:
- 3 treatments in Denver would range from $3,000 - $4,500.
- 6 treatments in Denver range from $6,000 - $9,000.
So Kybella is NOT cheap. For some people, it costs more than liposuction (which generally runs between $2,000 - $5,000). And for this reason, Kybella doesn't make sense for many people.
Why is Kybella so expensive? Dr. Catherine Weng, MD, an otolaryngologist and facial plastic surgeon in Denver, gives a great answer:
"The price is at least in part dictated by the manufacturer and as it is the only product of its kind on the market, they have the ability to set the price high. Since the cost of the product is high, most doctors will pass that on to the patient. The cost and cumulative down time (2-3 days after each injection) adds up when you factor in successive treatments. As a facial plastic surgeon, I would prefer to perform submental (beneath the chin) liposuction over injections any day. But for the right patient, there are benefits to Kybella - for someone with mild submental fat who wants to avoid surgery, one or two treatments with Kybella may be sufficient. My hope is that the manufacturer will come down on the price with time, and you will see doctors offices charging less as well."
And Dr. Jeffrey Nelson, a plastic surgeon in Tucson, agrees. "Neck liposuction in the office is much less expensive than doing three or four separate Kybella injection sets each 6 weeks apart."
Read more about mesotherapy, where Kybella got it's start, in our post, Mesotherapy vs. Liposuction - Which Is Better? You can also learn about ways to take care of skin conditions that concern you. Check out our Medical Beauty page.
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The Information provided on our website is not medical advice and should not be viewed as such. By law, only a medical doctor can diagnose or give medical advice. As a registered nurse, my goal is to educate, so I provide information on skin care, skin care products, and skin care treatments. If you have any condition that concerns you, please see a medical doctor. While most skin conditions are benign, some – like melanoma – can be deadly. If there is any doubt, please, please consult your physician. Thank you!