Kybella treatment: Common questions and answers from dermatologist in New York, NY
The area under the chin is a notoriously difficult place to lose unwanted fat. Even our slimmest patients can struggle with the appearance of a “double chin” due to genetics and the body’s natural disposition to store water and fat there. Previously, double chin surgery or liposuction were the only ways to get rid of a double chin; double chin exercises don’t really work. Fortunately, there is now an effective, minimally-invasive treatment called Kybella for double chins (also called “submental fullness”). Kybella melts that fat for a sleeker under-chin appearance. Below, Dr. Stephen L. Comite, dermatologist in New York, NY, answers common FAQs about this revolutionary treatment.
Kybella is based upon a naturally occurring material found in all of us that helps break down and absorb fat. Kybella is synthetically made and is not human or animal derived.
Kybella is a cosmetic injectable, similar to Botox or dermal fillers (Juvéderm, Voluma, Restylane). It is used in the under-chin region to melt fat away in the treatment area to improve the overall contours of the jawline and neck. Prior to Kybella, the conventional method for treating extra fat in the neck and under the chin required surgery. Kybella is not a surgical procedure; it is an injectable, so you do not have to go to an operating room or deal with long recovery times and potential side effects from incisions.
Kybella injections dissolve fat permanently. While other injectables like Botox or dermal fillers require maintenance treatments every few months or annually, once a series of Kybella treatments is complete, you may not need additional treatments for a long time. However, the fat may return in time if you gain substantial weight.
The safety and effectiveness of Kybella were established in two large studies, which enrolled over 1,800 adult participants with moderate or severe submental (below the chin) fat. The participants who received Kybella for up to six treatments, as opposed to the placebo (no Kybella) saw reductions in fat and improvements in their jawline/neckline contour.
As with most cosmetic procedures, there are some possible side effects with Kybella. The most common side effects are temporary bruising, swelling, numbness, pain, redness, and areas of hardness in the treatment area. However, these typically disappear within a few days. These side effects are also the most common side effects seen with Botox injections or dermal fillers like Juvéderm and Restylane. It is important to understand that there can be some serious, but fortunately uncommon, side effects with Kybella. These can include injury to the nerve in the jaw, which can result in an uneven smile or weakness of the facial muscles. In the original studies, less than 4% of patients had this problem; all resolved with time. Since practitioners have become more experienced, the incidence has decreased. Some patients may have trouble swallowing, but this is a rare side effect.
In addition to eliminating the fat under the neck, Kybella also tends to lift and tighten the skin in the neck area as the healing process occurs – which means that your neck does not end up looking like a deflated balloon.
After their Kybella treatment, most patients have slight discomfort (similar to that caused by other injectables) for a brief time after the injections; however, this dissipates relatively quickly, usually within a few days. Patients may experience varying amounts of swelling, but this is a normal part of the recovery process. This can take several weeks to resolve, so many patients may wear a scarf, turtleneck or other neck-covering.
Your results are dependent on the amount of excess fat you have under your chin. In the first few days after treatment, you will typically have some swelling, and potentially bruising. Most patients begin seeing good results as soon as three to four weeks after injection. Kybella before and after photos show the dramatic difference in the under-chin area after the treatment has had time to work.
Patients receive Kybella treatments spaced at least one month apart. Most patients generally require three to four treatment sessions (sometimes more) to see their optimal result, but some patients are fully satisfied after the first or second treatment.
Patients who have consolidated deposits of fat and the appearance of fullness underneath the chin are possibly good candidates for having Kybella. If patients have a lot of hanging, lax skin, Kybella may not be the best choice, because it is not intended to remove extra skin. Patients who have difficulty with swallowing or who have bleeding disorders or diseases may need to seek alternatives to Kybella.
Dr. Comite will evaluate you during your consultation to determine is you can benefit from Kybella.