What is KYBELLA?

Published: March 3, 2017

The single biggest breakthrough in treating double chins has been approved by the FDA and is now available at Skin Artisans at Edina Plastic Surgery.

Kybella is a non-surgical injectable for reducing moderate to severe fat on the upper neck, otherwise known as a “double chin.” The injection contains a naturally occurring molecule which eats away at fat. In short, Kybella is billed as a double-chin eraser that comes in a syringe.

Kybella is identical to the deoxycholic acid that is produced in the body. Deoxycholic acid produced in the body helps the body absorb fats. Kybella is a cytolytic drug, which when injected into tissue physically destroys the cell membrane. When properly injected into submental fat, the drug destroys fat cells occurring below the chin.

And unlike most of the injectable procedures offered, because it is so unique, this new fat-dissolving injection treatment is as popular with men as it is with women. Some plastic surgeons across the country are reporting that 40% of their Kybella patients are men.

How does it work?

Basically what Kybella does is that it disrupts the fat cell membrane. As soon as it hits, it causes lysis—or destroys the cell membrane. After that, the fat cell releases its fatty contents and the body metabolizes the fatty contents as normal.

How many rounds of treatment do you need, and what results should you expect?

In general, patients will need a series of 12-20 injections per visit. Patients may need two to three total visits, spaced a month apart. Each treatment takes about 15 minutes.

Some people may get up to 50 injections in a single treatment, with up to six single treatments no less than a month apart. Many people saw results in two to four treatments, according to Kybella’s manufacturer, Kythera®.

Before approving the drug, the FDA looked at the results of two U.S. trials that included more than 1,000 people. Those who got the drug more often saw less fat under the chin. More than 80% of those getting the drug said they noticed some improvement in their chin fat.

How long do the results last?

Depending on the patient, the results may last several years.

Could the drug help destroy fat cells in other areas of the body?

Currently the drug is only approved for injection below the chin. Kybella works best on small areas so it is not appropriate for areas like love handles.

What will it cost? And will insurance cover it?

The cost of Kybella varies from patient to patient but the costs will be similar to other dermal fillers such as Juvederm or Restylane. Kybella requires more than one treatment. Because it is a cosmetic procedure insurers will not cover the costs.

Is everyone a candidate for Kybella?

Almost everyone is a candidate for Kybella, except for patients under the age of 18. It is recommended that doctors screen patients carefully to make sure that their submental fullness is indeed fat and not the result of something else, such as thyromegaly (enlargement of the thyroid) or cervical lymphadenopathy (enlargement of cervical lymph nodes in the neck).

What are the potential side effects?

The most common side effects are bruising, swelling, pain, numbness, and small, firm areas around the injection sites. There can also be a bit of numbness at the site which resolves over time.

A possible serious side effect is an injury to the marginal mandibular nerve, which helps control facial expressions, causing an off-balance smile. This likely happens when shots are given too close to this nerve.

In trials including more than 5,000 people, this side effect happened in 4% of patients, according to a report from the FDA advisory panel. It eventually went away in all of them.

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