• Kybella is an FDA-approved, non-surgical alternative to liposuction for people interested in eliminating submental fat, i.e. a “double chin.”
  • The treatment gradually dissolves fat under the chin over time through a series of injections under the chin.
  • Kybella only addresses fat — it does not treat skin, muscle, bones or glands of the neck.

What is Kybella?

Kybella is an FDA-approved, minimally invasive procedure used to treat submental fat (double chin). It is a synthetic formulation of deoxycholic acid, a substance your body naturally produces to absorb fat.

What areas does Kybella treat?

  • Kybella is FDA-approved for reduction of excess fat beneath the chin.
  • Further Kybella research is in the works and clinical trials are already underway for new treatment areas include excess bra fat, abdominal fat, and back fat. Some doctors are already using Kybella “off-label” to these areas.

How does Kybella work?

  • The active ingredient in KYBELLA® is deoxycholic acid, a naturally-occurring substance in the body that aids in the breakdown and absorption of dietary fat.
  • When injected into the fat beneath the chin, KYBELLA® causes the destruction of fat cells.
  • The destroyed fat cells are cleared via the body’s natural metabolic processes and results are permanent.
  • Each Kybella injection session takes about 15-20 minutes, and may require up to 6 sessions spaced about 6-8 weeks apart. The average number of sessions is 3.

Kybella before and after

Kybella before and after
Before and after Kybella credit: Dr. Babak Azizzadeh

What are the risks and side effects of Kybella?

  • Kybella is very safe when performed by a qualified and trained medical professional.
  • Although Kybella is nonsurgical, some common side effects include pain, swelling, bruising, redness, and numbness.
  • Minor side effects typically subside in one to two weeks.
  • Serious side effects are rare but include; facial muscle weakness, uneven smile, trouble swallowing, or nerve injury in the jaw.
  • During the clinical trials, these rare side effects were proven to resolve spontaneously within 1-3 months post treatment.

Who is an ideal candidate for Kybella?

  • Kybella is an ideal treatment for those who do not wish to undergo surgery to improve the appearance of submental fullness (double chin).
  • Both women and men unhappy with the appearance of excess fat beneath the chin can find Kybella beneficial.
  • Anyone over 18, in good health with moderate to severe submental fat can reap the benefits of this aesthetic treatment.
  • Patients with excess skin in the region are typically not ideal candidates for Kybella as the reduction of fat may emphasize the skin laxity.
  • Those with significant skin excess may be better suited for surgical correction.

What is the recovery from Kybella?

  • The recovery process associated with Kybella is minimal in most cases, and downtime varies from person to person.
  • You may experience some mild discomfort after a Kybella treatment. Some patients experience a brief aching sensation under the chin, which can be managed with cool compresses, ibuprofen or acetaminophen post treatment.
  • Your plastic surgeon or dermatologist may administer a numbing cream, a local anesthesia and/or ice to minimize the discomfort.
  • There is no specific aftercare or compression garments required with Kybella, as compared with neck liposuction which usually requires a compression garment.
  • It’s fine to wash the treated area, and men can shave.
  • You can resume exercise the same day, but it’s better to wait a day or so as it may be sore at first.
  • Swelling in the treatment area typically subsides within 1-2 weeks and may be reduced with Arnica.

What results should I expect from Kybella?

  • It takes longer for results to materialize with Kybella than with liposuction.
  • The effects of Kybella are typically visible within 2 to 4 treatments and individual results will vary. In some cases, results may be visible sooner.
  • Patients can expect to see a gradual reduction of the double-chin region, and improved contour of the neck and jawline.
  • Since Kybella permanently eliminates the fat cells into which it is injected, results should be permanent so long as your weight remains stable.

How much does Kybella cost?

  • There are multiple factors than can affect the total cost of a series of Kybella treatments.
  • The range of the cost for each Kybella session runs around $450 up to $2,500 or more, depending on the medical provider, the location of the practice and the severity of submental fullness.

Kybella pros and cons

Pros

  • It’s quick and relatively painless
  • The recovery is a lot shorter than for liposuction (its surgical equivalent)
  • The results are permanent unless the patient gains a lot of weight afterward
  • The biggest benefit of Kybella is that for the first time, patients with excess fat under their chin are able to treat it without having invasive surgery.
  • It takes about 15-30 minutes in the doctor’s office.
  • The treatment is very safe when performed by an experienced facial plastic surgeon.

Cons

  • The area treated can swell—looking 1-2 inches larger for up to a week
  • It’s not the ideal procedure for patients who pass the pinch test – i.e. have more than an inch to pinch
  • Not everyone is a candidate. For patients with excessive accumulation of fat or significant sagging skin in the neck area, surgery is still the best option.
  • If injected improperly, Kybella can destroy other types of cells, such as skin cells. For this reason, it is very important to seek treatment for a double chin from a board-certified facial plastic surgeon or dermatologist.

Coolsculpting Mini vs. Kybella

Kybella and Coolsculpting Mini are both highly effective and non-surgical treatments that are great alternatives to surgery. Although they both eliminate fat, they are distinctly different. Kybella treatments involve safely injecting deoxycholic acid into the fatty tissue beneath the chin. Coolsculpting Mini involves freezing the fatty tissue by applying an applicator that delivers precisely controlled cooling to target the fat cells beneath the chin. With both methods, the unwanted fat cells are metabolized through the body’s natural processes gradually over time. Both methods will require multiple sessions.

A major benefit of Kybella is that the treatment zone can be customized for each patient based on the size of the area. A major benefit of Coolsculpting Mini is no needles are involved. The downside to the Coolsculpting Mini is some patients do not meet the applicator sizing standards. The attachment is designed very specifically and does not fit everyone the same. With Coolsculpting Mini, there does need to be enough fatty tissue for the applicator to grab onto and get a good fit. If the fatty tissue does not fit into the applicator, the patient is likely not an ideal candidate and would be better suited for treatments with Kybella. Post treatment swelling tends to be more significant with Kybella.

About The Author

Articles by

Gary D. Breslow, MD, FACS is a highly regarded board certified plastic surgeon in New Jersey, known by both patients and peers as a problem-solver with a warm, engaging personality, and an instinctive ability to identify and truly understand the goals of his patients and the patients, themselves.

Originally from Long Island, New York, Dr. Breslow graduated from Brown University with a Bachelor of Science degree and received his medical degree from New York University School of Medicine.

Following medical school, Dr. Breslow spent 6 years training at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania’s nationally renowned Integrated Plastic Surgery Residency Program. There he received extensive training in both cosmetic and reconstructive surgery from some of the nation’s top practitioners. After leaving Penn, he returned to NYU Medical Center to spend one year as the Microvascular Reconstructive Fellow at NYU’s prestigious Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery.

Dr. Breslow is Board-Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. He is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, and is licensed to practice plastic and reconstructive surgery in both New Jersey and New York.

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