Kybella is the only non-surgical treatment that is FDA approved to reduce moderate to severe fat pockets under the chin, also called submental fullness or a double chin. It works by destroying the fat cells that create a double chin.
How it works
Kybella is administered by injection into the area of undesired fat. Each treatment takes approximately 15 minutes. Many patients see visible results after 2 – 4 treatment sessions, but up to 6 separate treatment sessions may be needed in some patients for optimal results. Each treatment should be spaced 5-6 weeks apart.
Kybella is a synthetic version of deoxycholic acid. This acid is normally found in our intestine and aids in breaking up fat that we eat. Kybella is a synthetic version that is synthesized in the lab.
Before treatment, a temporary grid is placed on the area to be treated allowing injections to be precise. Then, the area is numbed using small numbing injections. Once numb, Kybella is injected. Multiple small injections are required to disperse the medicine evenly for a smooth result.
Many people experience a degree of discomfort during the injection of Kybella. Once injected, it starts to break apart the fat cells right away. Within 15 minutes, it is no longer active, and its effect on the fat cells is complete. Almost immediately, however, the body reacts to the destruction of the fat cells with inflammation and swelling. The amount of swelling one gets is variable, but in general, the bigger the treated area, the more swelling one gets.
Kybella has been evaluated in multiple studies in over 1,600 patients. Patients who participated in the trials that ultimately let to the FDA improvement of Kybella were graded on a 5 point scale. After 6 treatments, about 15% of patients had a 2 grade improvement, and about 70% of participants had a 1 grade improvement. What this means is that most people saw noticeable improvement.
The most important thing about results is that they are permanent. Once fat cells are destroyed with Kybella, they never return.
Side effects of Kybella
Temporary swelling, numbness, and hardness of the treated area is common. They can last for over 30 days in a small percentage of people. More rare side effects include more dramatic swelling which occurs in an even smaller percentage.
Rare, but more concerning, side effects include damage to the nerves that effect the smile and difficulty swallowing. In clinical trials, these all resolved spontaneously.
The effect of reducing a double chin
Submental fullness is a common problem that affects a large number of people. In a recent survey, 68% of respondents said they were bothered by it. Submental fat can occur in both overweight and non-overweight people who are genetically predisposed to developing it. Reducing it leads to a more balanced and harmonious facial appearance, and an improved sense of well-being. In the clinical trials, patients who saw improvement (which was most), were more happy, less self-conscious, and felt less overweight than before treatment.
Alternatives to Kybella
While Kybella is currently the only FDA approved non-surgical treatment for submental fat, liposuction is an effective alternative. Also, Coolsculpting has a small applicator that can be applied to the submental region to treat a double chin.