Facts at your fingertips on whether this newly FDA-approved procedure to reduce a double chin is right for you.
If a double chin has been the bane of your existence (and reason for a lack of a good selfie photo), there is now a reason to rejoice and keep your chin up – literally. That reason is Kybella, which was FDA-approved last year as a nonsurgical injectable treatment to dissolve fat under the chin.
And that is indeed cause for celebration, because let’s face it: your chin and neck are the framework for your face, which is the first thing people notice about you. If your neck fat and jowls take center stage, you can look older than your years or even overweight.
According to Beverly Hills facial plastic surgeon Dr. Babak Azizzadeh, who was one of the first to offer Kybella treatments there, Kybella is a synthetic formulation of deoxycholic acid, a substance your body naturally produces to absorb fat.
Says Dr. Azizzadeh, “when Kybella is injected into subcutaneous fat (fat deposits) it destroys the fat cells’ membranes, causing them to burst. Once the fat cells have been destroyed, they can no longer store or accumulate fat, and the remaining fat cells are flushed out of the body. Therefore, it’s safe to say that Kybella injections permanently get rid of the fat cells in the chin.”
Above: patient receiving Kybella treatments at Dr. Azzizadeh’s practice
“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 Miami cosmetic dermatologist Dr. S. Manjula 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.”
Dr. Jegasothy cautions that after the injection, the area injected will sting for roughly ten 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.”
It’s a lunchtime procedure
“While the amount of injections required varies from patient to patient, depending on their needs, the treatment itself is very quick, comparable to Botox or filler injections,” says Dr. Azizzadeh. “You can return to work or continue with your daily activities immediately after the treatment.”
Since patients need multiple treatments (2-4), it usually takes approximately 3 to 4 months to see the final results. Dr. Azizzadeh recommends taking Arnica to reduce bruising and swelling after treatments.
Alternatives to Kybella
According to both Dr. Jegasothy and Dr. Azizzadeh, the most widely studied and performed alternative is neck liposuction, with or without a neck lift. “This has been the traditional method for removing excess fat under the skin, and for some patients it may still offer better results than Kybella”, suggests Dr. Azizzadeh, who also offers a nonsurgical combination of Kybella, Ulthera and Voluma that he calls Kytherma.
Kytherma addresses skin laxity, fat accumulation and volume loss all at the same time. Ulthera is an ultrasound technology that stimulates the SMAS (facial muscles) to lift and tighten loose, sagging skin on the neck and jawline. He follows that with Voluma, a facial filler that he injects into the cheeks or lower face (chin and jawline) to provide contour and added lift.
“Another option”, suggests Dr. Jegasothy, “is CoolSculpting Mini. Zeltiq – the makers of CoolSculpting – realized that the original treatment wasn’t small enough to treat the neck area, so they launched the Mini in order to compete with Kybella. The jury is still out on comparative results though.”
“I’m a 50 year old guy who really does not want to go under the knife. When Dr. Jegasothy performed my Kybella treatment, I had very little pain and swelling and no bruising at all. It took around 2 months to see the results, but not only did I get a great reduction in my neck fat, I also noticed that the skin there is a lot smoother and tighter. So with one treatment of Kybella, I got about 60-70% of the results I would expect from a much more expensive and recovery-intensive surgical neck lift.”
Below: Before and two months after first Kybella treatment to the neck area.
“I’m 65-years old and couldn’t be more pleased with the results of my Kybella treatments from Dr. Azizzadeh. Overall it is an easy procedure, with no pain. Once the initial swelling went away after my second treatment, the results were truly noticeable. I have always had extra fat under my chin, even in my youth when I was 120 pounds. Now, for the first time, my jawline has tightened up and has definition. Because of the results I look younger and thinner than I have in years!”
Below: Improvement in the appearance of the patient’s chin and neck after two treatments.
The Bottom Line – Kybella Pros and Cons
From Dr. Jegasothy:
- 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 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
From Dr. Azizzadeh:
- 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 Kybella injections are performed by an experienced facial plastic surgeon.
- 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.
Both doctors agree that since its FDA approval in 2015, Kybella treatments have given their patients gorgeous results: their double chins have disappeared, and their jawlines are more defined. As you can see from the testimonials above, the proof is in the picture – and if you’re one of the thousands of people getting Kybella treatments, its a good bet that a good selfie is in your future.
You can double down on that bet – but thanks to Kybella, not with your chins.
Kybella: A Snapshot
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.
The ideal candidate for Kybella treatment is someone with excess neck fat beneath the chin who is not interested in having liposuction or other surgery. People with only moderate fat under the skin require fewer injections of Kybella, and are therefore good candidates for the procedure.
People with a greater degree of bulging can also benefit from Kybella treatment, but results will not be as apparent.
You may experience some mild discomfort after Kybella treatment. Your plastic surgeon or dermatologist may administer a numbing cream, a local anesthesia and/or ice to minimize the discomfort. Some patients experience a brief aching sensation under the chin, which can be managed with ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
Importantly, there is no specific aftercare required with Kybella. 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.
It takes longer for results to materialize with Kybella than with liposuction. Following treatment it takes up to a few months for the fat to be resorbed, additional collagen to be produced, and tightening to take effect. Since Kybella permanently eliminates the fat cells into which it is injected, results should be permanent so long as your weight remains stable.
To learn more about what type of results you can expect, schedule a consultation with a plastic surgeon.
Updated, June 2017 – Zwivel Team