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5 Things You Should Know About Kybella

Awhile back, I posted a blog introducing a new non-surgical way to get rid of your double chin—Kybella. The popularity of minimally invasive and nonsurgical cosmetic procedures continues to grow. This explains the immense investment in injectable treatments by the major cosmetic industries. Kythera developed Kybella (deoxycholic acid), and shortly after it launched Kybella it was bought by Allergan, the company that makes Botox. Recently, Allergan launched a nationwide marketing campaign to increase the public’s awareness of Kybella. I thought I’d revisit Kybella by discussing five things you should know about Kybella.

First, Kybella is a nonsurgical procedure that permanently destroys fat cells. The active compound is deoxycholic acid, a naturally occurring molecule that directly destroys fat cells. Although the compound destroys any fat cells, Kybella is currently only FDA approved for treating the submental fat. This fat is responsible for causing that undesirable “double chin” appearance. With the exploding popularity of selfies (iPhones now even automatically organizes photos into a selfies), more people are self-conscious of this aspect and want reduction of this fullness. Previously, surgery in form of liposuction was the only option. Now, Kybella offers a nonsurgical technique to reduce the submental fat.

Second, the technique involves something the public is already accustomed to—and accepting. Botox, Juvederm, Restylane, Radiesse etc are all treatments that involve injections. People are becoming influenced by the attraction of achieving a cosmetic success just by getting “shots.” Kybella offers such an option. You should know, however, that Kybella requires a series of injections. In the FDA trials, the number of injection sessions required to achieve a noticeable effect ranged from two to six, with most patients seeing improvement at median of four sessions. The injections are dictated by a proprietary mapping grid system developed by Kythera (now licensed by Allergan). The map is basically a dissolvable tattoo pattern that helps the doctor calculate how many vials or ml of Kybella to inject. The dots also guide the doctor where to inject. The treatment does require a series of injections, which are spaced 6-8 weeks apart. I use ice and a small injection of lidocaine to make the treatment comfortable.

Third, side effects and complications can occur, but are fortunately uncommon. The most common adverse reactions are temporary pain, swelling, and firmness. Bruising may also occur. One should also expect some degree of redness afterwards. In the trials, there were a handful of temporary weakness of the marginal mandibular nerve—but this can be almost eliminated if the doctor stays away from the “danger zone.” Some patients experienced dysphagia (or trouble swallowing). This is due to the swelling of the submental area that caused sensation of dysphagia, and not really due to direct injury to the esophagus. It’s important to tell your doctor if you already have dysphagia before treatment, because this may worsen and you may not be a great candidate. In the trials, ALL the adverse reactions resolved. The downtime is very acceptable. Many will develop noticeable swelling the day or two afterwards, which will progressively resolve. There is no restriction to activity. A nice thing about the recovery is one can work out the next day, or even go play a round of golf.

Fourth, you should be aware that Kybella is an expensive option. Each vial can cost anywhere from $600 and up. Almost everyone will require at least two vials at each session, so you’re looking at least $1200-1500 each session. This may be more if the map dictates 3 or 4 vials—more likely if the patient has significant amount of fat in the chin area. Allergan is now encouraging all doctors to follow a simple guideline of two vials given every two months. If cost is the only consideration, you should realize that liposuction might be a more cost effective option. Kybella is really a great option for people who don’t want to undergo surgery, or have a medical condition that makes any surgery risky.

Fifth, the best candidates are men and women with moderate to severe submental fat. In addition, another important factor that will play a role in your results is how elastic is your skin. Very loose skin—usually seen in the more elderly—will limit the results one will see. You should be in good health, not be pregnant, and are not allergic to any compound found in Kybella. If you are interested to see if Kybella is a good option, the best thing is to find a board certified doctor with experience injecting Kybella to get a good in office exam. There, he or she will be able to examine and palpate your neck, skin, etc and counsel you if Kybella is a good treatment.

For more information about Kybella, please visit our interactive website at Dr. Kenneth Yu Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery is a qualified team of experts serving the San Antonio, Texas area. To schedule a consultation, please contact our Concierge Patient Coordinator at (210) 876-6868 or