At the recent meeting of the American Society of Laser Medicine and Surgery in Boston, there were multiple presentations of studies on the use of Kybella. Kybella, for those of you who don’t know, is the Allergan product used to treat submental fat, also known as double chin.
Since the moment at which the FDA approved Kybella last year, there has been an explosion of interest in this treatment. Television programs such as the Today Show, The Doctors, and Dr. Oz have featured this treatment, even having doctors inject their patients right on the air.
In the aesthetic world of experts at this conference, the discussion of Kybella was unavoidable. Many doctors shared their experiences treating their patients with Kybella, with one speaker at the conference calling Kybella “a game changer”.
I have treated many patients with Kybella in the central and southern Maine areas over the past year. Still, like many aesthetic treatments that get introduced with great fanfare, it is always important to see how the treatments work over time and over more patients.
Kybella does appear to be everything the fanfare promised it would be initially. It also seems to improve double chin appearance to some degree, pulling up the sagging skin in that area.
As I have discussed in previous blog posts, the injection procedure is “hot”. In other words, as soon as Kybella is injected into the submental fat area, patients feel a burning sensation immediately.
The reason for this burning feeling is that as soon as the deoxycholic acid, the major chemical component of bile that is produced by your liver, contacts the fat, the chemical melting process begins. In the process of digesting or melting the fat, heat is in fact generated, which is why we apply a cold pack to the area immediately after finishing the injections.
In the first several days after the injections, the double chin area will be red and swollen. The fat exposed to the injection will actually turn into a liquid form. The area changes from being firm to the touch to being jelly-like in consistency.
Since the fat cells have also been killed by this chemical reaction, your body will start to slowly reabsorb and dispose the fat through your body’s normal metabolic pathways. This process is slow but steady, and the liquefied fat take 4 to 6 weeks to be removed from the area.
One of the greatest effects of this process is that the fat loss is permanent. Once the fat is gone from this area, it will not come back there even if you gain weight.
Another interesting aspect of Kybella is its significant popularity right off the bat with men. Even though men comprise only about 10% of our total patients here at Maine Laser Skin Care, about 40% of all my Kybella treatments so far have been men.
Interestingly also, most of the men have told me that while they would not consider any other aesthetic treatments like Botox, they jumped at the chance to have a non-surgical treatment for their double chin. While these men seemed satisfied with most other aspects of their looks, they generally expressed that they “have hated [their] neck[s] for a long time”.
Another nice benefit has been that most patients are also seeing tightening of skin under the chin. Once the fat is reabsorbed with each treatment, the vast majority of patients see a better appearance when they look at themselves in the mirror straight on, and even more benefit with side views of the neck and chin areas.
In discussion with other aesthetic doctors, there are several theories as to why this tightening under the chin is happening. One theory is that once the fat is gone, there is less gravitational pulling down of the submental skin.
Another theory is that since the fat melting process is very hot and appears inflamed, the skin may be tightened by the inflammatory reaction occurring under the skin. My thinking is that the truth may be a combination of the two theories, but the skin tightening does appear to be real and seen in many patients.
Comparing notes with other aesthetic experts at the Boston conference also confirmed my experience that most patients need two treatments on average to achieve their goals, even though everybody notes improvements with each set of injections. If you have any questions about how Kybella works or if you may be a candidate for this treatment, call us at (207) 873-2158 to set up a free and confidential consultation.