Updated: Mar 24
Is Kybella Right for Me?
If you’re frustrated with your double chin, you’re not alone. Millions of people have a stubborn double chin that just won’t seem to respond to diet or exercise. Luckily, modern science has given us several body contouring options for getting rid of resilient body fat.
But how does this increasingly popular treatment work? Is it the right solution to help you achieve your goals?
How Kybella Works
Kybella is actually the brand name for a synthetic version of deoxycholic acid: a compound that occurs naturally in the human body. It works to break down dietary fat in the gut, and when used in its FDA-approved injectable Kybella form, it works the same magic on the fat cells that make up a double chin. In order to understand why it’s so effective, we have to understand a bit about how fat cells work in the body.
The key to understanding what makes body contouring treatments like this so effective lies in one important fact: the human body almost never creates new fat cells or destroys old ones. The number of fat cells in our bodies actually stays more or less the same after adolescence. Rather than creating new fat cells when we gain weight, the ones we already have expand to store more nutrients. When we lose weight, the body metabolizes those nutrients and our existing fat cells shrink.
This means that no matter how much weight you lose, those fat cells are still there. That’s why some of us have stubborn pockets of body fat: even if we work out every day and adhere to a strict diet, those fat cells are still there. Body contouring treatments like Kybella are particularly effective at minimizing the appearance of stubborn body fat because they actually kill the cells themselves. Because the human body seldom if ever generates new fat cells, the effects of a deoxycholic acid treatment are intended to be permanent.
Is Kybella Right for Me?
Because deoxycholic acid occurs naturally in the body, almost everyone responds to it well with no allergic reactions or anything of that sort. That said, this treatment is not equally suitable for everyone. Let’s break down who should and shouldn’t undergo this treatment.
Who It’s Right for:
People In Good Overall Health
The first thing that must be understood about deoxycholic acid treatments and body contouring treatments at large is that they are not meant for weight loss. They are cosmetic in nature only, treating targeted pockets of body fat to help patients achieve their aesthetic goals. Anyone who is hoping to lose weight should speak to their physician about creating a smart diet and exercise regimen that will work for them.
That said, people who are in good health and at or near their target body weight, but who are still frustrated with the appearance of a stubborn double chin, make great candidates for this treatment. One of the main reasons for this is that someone who already maintains a healthy lifestyle is less likely to see a double chin recur. While a deoxycholic acid treatment can kill many fat cells in the targeted area, it won’t kill all of them, so any weight gain post-treatment could result in the reappearance of a double chin. People who eat well and exercise as part of their normal lifestyle are less susceptible to this.
People Who Don’t Mind Commitment
While some people only choose to undergo one deoxycholic acid treatment, most people require multiple treatments to achieve their goals. The maximum number of treatments anyone can receive is six, and they must be spaced one month apart. That means that some people will be making a six-month commitment to achieving their aesthetic goals with Kybella. The treatment doesn’t take long and requires no downtime, but if a monthly appointment doesn’t suit your current lifestyle, this may not be the right solution for you.
If, on the other hand, you don’t mind the commitment if it helps you reach your goals, this is a great solution.
People Whose Double Chin Is the Result of Body Fat
Not every double chin is caused by body fat. As we’ll see below, there are a number of other conditions that can lead to the appearance of a double chin. This treatment is only effective when it comes to melting fat cells, though: it does not tighten skin or muscle tissue. As long as your double chin is caused by body fat and there’s enough of it to treat, you’ll be a good candidate.
Who It’s Not Right for:
Women Who Are Pregnant or Who May Become Pregnant
This restriction is more about caution than anything else. Simply put, not enough research has been done into the potential effects of deoxycholic acid treatments on pregnancy. Because most people will undergo multiple treatments spread out over time, it’s best that women who are thinking about becoming pregnant refrain from it as well as those who are currently pregnant.
People With Lax Skin
There are other potential causes for a double chin than body fat, chief among them the loss of skin elasticity. As we get older, our skin becomes more lax and can begin to sag. When this happens under the jawline, it can look like a double chin. This is one of the reasons why most people will eventually develop a double chin later in life. Because it’s not the result of body fat, though, a deoxycholic acid treatment is not the appropriate treatment.
People With Lax Neck Muscles
Just as with skin, our neck muscles can become more lax as we age, resulting in the appearance of a double chin. Neck creases can also develop as we age. In cases like these, a neck lift or Botox injections to relax wrinkles are more likely to help than deoxycholic acid.
People With Microgenia
Microgenia, more commonly known as a weak chin bone, causes the appearance of a double chin may have started during childhood and advanced with age. Again, because this double chin is not caused by body fat, deoxycholic acid should not be used to treat it.
Kybella FAQ: Everything You Need to Know
What’s the Treatment Like?
When you come to our offices, your treatment will begin with one of our professionals marking the spots on your chin where the deoxycholic acid will be injected and a numbing agent will be applied. The number of injections varies from person to person depending on the size of the area being treated. It’s usually between twenty and thirty but can be as many as fifty. The injections are done with a very thin needle that, combined with the numbing agent, results in just a slight pinching feeling.
Each treatment usually takes just twenty minutes or so from start to finish, and when it’s done, you can go right back to your daily routine. Unlike with invasive surgical options like liposuction, there’s no need for downtime for recovery. In fact, this treatment is so quick you could get it over your lunch break and head right back to the office!
Do I Need to Prepare?
Unlike with surgical options that require anesthesia, there’s no need to fast or otherwise prepare for this treatment. The only thing you might want to do is forgo any over-the-counter painkillers, like ibuprofen or aspirin, prior to treatment. These drugs can act as blood thinners, which may result in increased bruising post-treatment.
How Long Before I See My Results?
Once the deoxycholic acid starts going to work on your fat cells, it will take some time for your results to develop. The acid will first attack and break down the cells, and then the body will begin to flush out the dead cells over time.
Most people will begin to see a noticeable change in their double chin at around the three to four-week mark, and those results will continue to develop over time. If more treatments are done, you can expect to see your results continue to improve for all six months of the full course of treatment and likely for some time after that as your body continues to process the destroyed fat cells.
How Many Treatments Will I Need?
As mentioned above, the number of treatments you need will depend upon the size of your area of treatment and your desired results. If you just want to trim a bit of fat off of a mild double chin, one or two treatments might do the trick. In trials, 59% of people did the full course of six treatments. When you visit us for your initial consultation, we’ll work with you to develop a treatment plan that suits your needs and goals.
Are the Results Permanent?
Because the body almost never creates new fat cells, the results from your treatment will be permanent as long as you maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Will It Leave Loose Skin Behind?
Remember earlier when we mentioned that it takes time for your results to develop? There is a distinct advantage to that: it gives the skin time to shape and mold itself around the new contours of your jawline. As long as you have good skin elasticity, your skin will contract as the deoxycholic acid slowly dissolves the fat beneath it, leaving behind a slimmer, more natural-looking appearance.
Does Kybella Tighten Skin?
Some people assume that because it melts a double chin without leaving loose skin behind that this treatment can actually tighten skin. This is not the case. It’s only approved use is to melt away a double chin.
Can It Be Used on Other Areas?
Right now, this treatment is only approved by the FDA for use on a double chin. Research is ongoing to see if deoxycholic acid injections can safely be used to destroy fat deposits on other areas of the body. The issue is that the acid itself, if injected improperly, could attack other soft tissues than fat cells. This is why it’s vital to receive this treatment only on a double chin, and only from a licensed professional.