Kybella is an FDA-approved injectable treatment that’s used to destroy fat cells. It’s most commonly used to melt fat in the double chin area (also known as submental fullness). Chin is a pretty common place for fat deposits that leave people feeling embarrassed or concerned about their appearance. Kybella is often used as an alternative to invasive surgical intervention and was developed by pharmaceutical giant Allergan.

It’s used to change the profile of the face in the chin area and can change the shape and contour of the face completely. It’s the first procedure that many people visit an aesthetics clinic for, and it’s more popular with men (who might not consider treatments like botox, fillers etc) than other forms of aesthetic treatment. 

The ideal candidate for Kybella has a lower BMI and a maintained weight, with small areas of fat that they’re unable to move, despite a diet and exercise routine.

How does Kybella work?

The active ingredient in Kybella is deoxycholic acid, a compound that occurs naturally in the body, which causes fat to break down permanently. It dissolves the membranes that line fat cells, causing them to spill their contents. These contents are then removed naturaly by the body’s own immune system.

It typically works better for younger people as they have better skin elasticity and it’s less likely to have been caused by excess, sagging skin under the chin (which can be more common in older patients). The fat that Kybella is administered to has to be “soft and squeezable” too – fat that’s firmer and/or fibrous won’t react in the same way. 

Genetics, hormones and weight can all play a part in submental fullness. This being said, the likelihood is that everyone seeking this treatment will have some different things to take into consideration.

Kybella Process

Kybella is injected under the skin of the area under a patient’s chin. It takes around 20-50 injections, so if you’re squeamish about needles this may not be the right treatment for you. Technique will differ depending on biology, treatment needs, and the skills of the plastic surgeon who administers the treatment too.

Usually, it takes more than one treatment in order to benefit from Kybella’s effectiveness. So this is something to consider if you’re planning on trying out Kybella. It will have an impact on schedule, budget, and the recovery time that comes with the treatment. Approximately 2-5 Kybella sessions are needed to see results, and these results are less dramatic and instantaneous than with lipo. Younger patients with smaller submental mounds often need less treatments (around two usually) than older people with excess fat and skin laxity.

This uncertainty around number of treatments and the delay of results from treatment are some of the criticisms of Kybella vs lipo that plastic surgeons have. As with most treatments, Kybella works better for some than others, and this can be a little unpredictable – leading to patient disappointment at times. 

How much does it cost?

One Kybella injection can cost somewhere between $1,200-$1,800 – it isn’t cheap by any means, especially when factoring in that you may need multiple sessions. This can actually make it more expensive than something like chin lipo when all costs are taken into consideration, which many people who are considering Kybella don’t expect.

Is Kybella safe?

The biggest indicator of Kybella’s safety is the fact that it was FDA approved in 2015. This status was achieved after more than 20 clinical studies and over 1,600 patients. In these trials, where four treatments were carried out, more than half of the subjects had a considerable reduction in the size of their double chin fat pad. Many downsized from a severe to moderate double chin, or a moderate to a mild one.

Compared to other fat removal treatments – like lipo – it’s much less invasive and comes with less hardcore physical down time. There’s no need for a long, physical recovery time as it’s an injection rather than a surgical procedure. It does come with some down time. The swelling post-treatment can be significant and last longer than you might expect.

Often billed as a treatment that you “can have on your lunch break”, it’s true that Kybella is relatively quick to administer. However, it can come with side effects such as bruising, swelling and pain so it isn’t comparable to a quick beauty maintenance or spa treatment you squeeze into your lunch. There needs to be proper aftercare and the side effects following treatment can sometimes last for weeks. 

What if I gain wait?

It’s also worth considering that the treatment doesn’t remove all fat cells in the area. So if you gain a significant amount of weight, the remaining fat cells in the treatment area can rejoin and grow larger. This then means that it will look as though the fat has returned to the area, so it isn’t a miracle, permanent solution.

Some doctors are also starting to look at treating jowls with Kybella, but this comes with additional risk as a misplaced injection can damage the nerves in the face and lead to a lopsided smile for around six weeks or so. Injection technique and placement is always an issue with these types of treatment, even though deemed as “low-risk” like Botox and piercing.

As with all medical treatments, it’s important to do your research to decide whether it’s a treatment that you want to explore in more detail. Always do your research on the plastic surgeon, clinic and product itself to make sure that you know what you’re getting into and what questions to ask. Ensuring that a licenced, experienced professional administers your treatment is one way to lessen the risk of complications or being disappointed with results.

Taking all things into account, Kybella will be more suited to some patients than others – and some will see better results than others depending on a variety of different factors. It’s really important not to just see it as a quick-fix solution as it comes with risks, downtime and may not give you the dramatic results you’re looking for.