Kybella FAQs

kybella_submental_fullnessIn this blog post, I wanted to update our readers about the progress on the use of Kybella at Maine Laser Skin Care.  You may know about Kybella from our previous blog post during the fall, or from much of the information in the media (Dr Oz, The Doctors, etc.).

Kybella is the new FDA-approved treatment for fat removal in the neck and the double chin area specifically.  Essentially, this is a non-surgical and minimally invasive alternative to liposuction and plastic surgery to that area.

Clinical trials have proven that this injection procedure can reduce the frontal and profile appearance of the double chin.  Kybella also has demonstrated the ability to improve the contour and definition of the chin-neck area.

kybella-before-afterSince we first wrote about Kybella, we have had a back log of people who have expressed interest in this procedure.  We are currently working through that crowd to treat those who first “raised their hand”.

Many of you have called requesting information and consultation, and we are adding those of you to our queue.  If you are one of those people, you will be hearing from us soon.

Based on these interactions and ensuing questions, I have compiled a list of FAQs (or frequently asked questions) to give you more information about this exciting addition to our menu of aesthetic treatments:

What is Kybella and how does it work?

kybella_scientificKybella is synthetically identical to a chemical that your own body produces called deoxycholic acid.  This chemical is produced within the liver, stored in the gallbladder and released into the gastrointestinal tract to help breakdown ingested fat in your food.  It is also commonly referred to as “bile acid”.

After carefully marking out by anatomy where the fat is located and where the injection can be safely made to avoid other vital areas in the neck (e.g. blood vessels, nerves, thyroid gland), a series of small injections are made into the fat beneath your chin.  Once injected, the chemical works immediately to destroy the targeted fat cells.

After the fat in this area is dissolved, your body will reabsorb the fatty acids released and eliminate them from the body through normal waste removal methods.  Another important point is that once these fat cells are destroyed, they should not be able to store or accumulate fat in that area again.

How many treatments will I need?

The answer to this question depends on the amount of fat involved in the area.  The optimal results from each treatment will be seen about 3 weeks after the injections each time.

In the FDA trials, it was determined that between 3 and 6 treatments may be needed depending on the magnitude of the double chin problem.  However, the treatments need to be spaced at least one month apart in order to allow your body to reabsorb as much fat as possible from each injection cycle.

What are possible side effects?

kybella_injection_areaMinor pain, which we try to decrease significantly with use of topical numbing cream and cold packs, is the most common side effect.  You will feel the pin prick of each injection, and most patients average about 20 small injections.

Almost immediately after each injection, you will feel a burning sensation that may last for several hours.  This burning feeling is from the injection actually starting to melt or digest the fat in the injection zone.  Cold packs reduce this feeling significantly, and you will be given a cold pack to take home with you.

You will also have some swelling and redness around the area of injection for several days as the injected chemical does its work.  Most patients find that they can decrease this swelling with continued intermittent cold pack use.

Several patients have told me that they covered this area up with a turtleneck or scarf around the neck for several days and easily returned to work.  Others have reported mild bruising and numbness in the area, but those symptoms usually resolve themselves within several days.

Who is a potential candidate for this procedure?

Anyone who does not have contraindications and who wants to eliminate their fatty neck and double chin, but does not want to undergo the alternative of surgical liposuction.

Who should not have this procedure?

kybella_procedureDefinitely women who are pregnant or breast feeding should not have this procedure, as there are no studies about safety in this demographic.  Also, those with high risk for bleeding complications from multiple injections, such as hemophiliacs and those on prescription blood thinners, should probably not be treated with Kybella.

I would also not recommend anyone to undergo this treatment who has had either extensive surgery or radiation in the neck area.  Having these treatments done makes the anatomy of the area difficult for me to asses in terms of safe injections.


These FAQs should answer the majority of basic questions that you may have.  If you would like to further discuss this option for non-surgical treatment of the double chin and see if it is right for you, call us at (207) 873-2158 to arrange a free and confidential consultation.

About Dr. John Burke

John Burke M.D. has practiced medicine for over 25 years, and is the founding partner of MidMaine Internal Medicine. He established Maine Laser Skin Care in 2004 after devoting years to learning the latest in laser and dermatologic technology. Dr. Burke has treated patients from all over the United States. He is one of Maine's busiest practitioners in laser treatments, and in the use of Botox for upper facial lines and excessive sweating.
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