In October 2015, I had my first Kybella treatment. In December 2016, I completed the series and underwent the procedure five times. I shared before and after photos and general information about Kybella in a prior post, Does Kybella work? There have been many comments and questions on my blog since that time so I’ve created a new post that addresses the most common questions people have asked about my experience with Kybella side effects and results.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional. Nothing you read here should be construed as medical advice. I am not an employee or an associate of Allergan. This information is an account of my personal experience and you should seek medical advice if you have undergone treatment and are experiencing concerns.
Most common questions from my readers about Kybella side effects
Am I satisfied with Kybella results? Does Kybella work?
Yes, it worked for me. Yes, I love the results and I’d do it all over again! I had moderate submental fat and I only expected to undergo 1 -2 treatments. It took approximately 4 weeks after the initial treatment to observe results. The results were profound and I could have stopped at this point but my goal was to remove as much fat as possible in the area. I evaluated my results about 8 – 10 weeks after each treatment and decided if I wanted to pursue more. Ultimately, I underwent 5 treatments and concluded in December 2016. Below is the photo of me before I began the treatments. This photo was taken during a rhinoplasty consult. It was when I saw this photo of my profile that I noticed the changes in my chin.
Some comments were received from readers that it appeared there were other changes in later photos. That’s because, there were! All subsequent photos were after rhinoplasty was performed. The rhinoplasty also had a significant effect on my overall profile. You can read all my about rhinoplasty experience here.
Dealing with the common Kybella side effects: swelling & jiggling
Swelling is one of the most common Kybella side effects that has concerned my readers. I want to talk to you about that for a moment, in depth. First of all, I am not aware of anyone who didn’t experience swelling after the procedure. It’s just something you have to be prepared for. I have used injectables, underwent rhinoplasty, breast augmentation, and abdominoplasty so I am a seasoned veteran when it comes to swelling. Every cosmetic procedure I’ve done, including Botox and Juvederm have resulted in some temporary swelling and each time it’s different. In the photos below, you will notice some swelling around my mouth and this is from Juvederm that I had injected the same day.
Despite all the photos you look at and YouTube videos you watch, it’s very hard to be prepared. Swelling can often make a condition appear worse than before you started. This is one of those side effects that can lead to serious concerns, upsetting emotions, regret, and doubt. You have to continuously remind yourself swelling is a temporary side effect and it’s expected. In my experience, it has always lasted longer than I expected it to and with each procedure the swelling can vary.
These photos were taken after the fifth Kybella treatment. The swelling after after the first and second treatments was much worse for me. Not that I’m downgrading this swelling, as you can see, it’s quite swollen. Having undergone the procedure several times, this swelling didn’t concern me. While it looks terrible, I know it will improve with each day.
The jiggly feeling that lingers for a few days after Kybella has also been a concern and a lot of people have asked me about it. I did experience that the first three times I underwent the procedure. By the fourth and fifth time, I don’t think enough of the product was used or needed to result in the area feeling jiggly. For me, the jiggly feeling (that sounds so funny) resolved within the first week. The area that was injected underwent quite a few changes from being jiggly, then stiff, and ultimately numb. After several weeks, the feeling in the area completely returned to normal.
The below photos were taken two weeks after the fifth treatment. There is still minor swelling, although it has improved and not likely to be noticed by anyone but me. Sorry, the lighting is not the greatest. You can see the contour has returned to my chin and it looks quite different than it did the day after I had the procedure. Notice the minor swelling from the Juvederm around my lips is still apparent. Sometimes Juvederm swelling disappears for me within a couple of days and other times it takes a couple of weeks (especially if it’s an area that’s never been injected before). Ultimately, the swelling always resolves.
A few pointers if you feel insecure about the swelling:
- Buy fashionable scarves and drape them around your neck. Light weight scarves are in style and can be worn all year. This is a great trick to hide the swelling in your neck area.
- Continue to ice the area at the recommended intervals to help reduce the swelling. People tend to slack on using the ice. Don’t slack. Keep up with the recommended icing schedule from your doctor.
- Get some turtlenecks. Even in hot weather, sleeveless turtlenecks can be worn and look adorable with skirts and slacks. I have several colors and feel more confident when I wear the turtlenecks or scarves during the days I was noticeably swollen.
- Talk to yourself in the mirror. Notice you are looking back at your eyes, not down at your neck. In addition, it is unlikely anyone will be staring at your profile long enough to observe swelling. Keep reminding yourself even though you are aware it’s there, usually, others are not. Don’t point it out and people probably won’t notice it.
- Some medical practitioners suggest taking antihistamines before and after Kybella or other injectables to help reduce swelling. I took diphenhydramine (Benadryl). I don’t think it made a difference but it was worth trying. This is something you can ask your doctor about and whether or not it’s an appropriate and safe option for you.
What was the swelling like after the first Kybella treatment?
With the initial treatment, swelling was profound and I experienced bruising. I was prepared for it but I was still embarrassed at the fact that my neck looked like a tree trunk. The last thing you want someone asking is “What did you do to yourself?” The thought of that question is totally humiliating. I took a week off work with the intention of hiding in my home while I waited for swelling to subside. However, the swelling lasted about four weeks with the initial treatment (at least what I’d consider noticeable swelling) and bruising appeared the second day. The bruising disappeared after a week. Some people swell more than others and everyone’s body responds differently. I don’t believe anyone can predict if swelling will subside in seven days or two weeks. Be prepared and remember swelling is temporary. If you have an important event coming up, take that into consideration and don’t cut it too close. If it was me, I’d have the procedure done six weeks prior to an event.
After the initial treatment, the area was jiggly for several days and I wore a chin compression strap. The strap kept the swelling down and applied pressure which made me more comfortable because the area injected was tender. Swelling extended from my chin to the back of my jaw and down the front of my neck. It was about twice the volume you see in the photos above after the fifth treatment. So, it was pretty swollen! After the first few days, the area was not jiggly anymore but it felt firm and hard. I returned to work after being home a week and no one noticed the swelling. It was still quite apparent to me. However, other people never noticed anything.
Was there swelling with subsequent treatments or when fat in the area was minimal?
Yes, there was always swelling with each treatment. My experience with Kybella was the less fat in the area to treat, the less I swelled. However, even with the final treatment when I was targeting a small residual pocket, you can see how much I swelled and it lasted a couple of weeks. Again, did anyone else notice the minor swelling? Nope. Just me. The tricks to hide swelling work like a charm.
Did I notice any other side effects?
Yes, I noticed the injected area became hard about a week after each treatment. As I write this, I am approximately 10 days out from the 5th treatment and it is still hard. It’s not painful but if I press on it, it’s still a bit sore. Following the hardness, the area becomes numb and this lasts a few weeks with me. In every case, the normal feeling came back to the area and numbness was just a temporary Kybella side effect. There was also redness a few days following the injections. With each treatment, all side effects eventually subsided and the area felt completely normal. The side effects I experienced were documented by Allergan as the most common that people experience.
Was I concerned about hanging skin?
No, this was not a concern for me. However, there are reports out there on the web that people have been left with loose skin. This is something that needs to be discussed with your doctor before you start the Kybella treatment. My mother was interested in Kybella and could have easily been sold and pursued multiple treatments to resolve her issue. However, a good nurse or doctor can assess the severity of the fat to be treated and other factors, including age, and tell you if hanging skin would be a risk. My mother was not an ideal candidate for Kybella. The real solution for her was a neck lift or face lift based on her skin laxity and age. These are things that should be discussed before treatment to avoid disappointments.
You have to be assessed properly and willing to listen and accept if you are a candidate or not for any procedure. You will always find someone who will do a procedure if you pay them. You must see reputable, experienced, honest professionals who can and will properly assess your individual situation to minimize risks.
Was I concerned I didn’t see immediate results?
No, and I didn’t expect to see immediate results. In my conversations with my practitioner, the expectation of swelling was not downgraded and I wasn’t promised it would be gone in a week. I expected the swelling to be bad. My results were masked by the swelling I experienced and it wasn’t until about four weeks that I noticed a difference. Also, I was aware in clinical trails up to 6 treatments were given. I went into the process accepting I may need more than a single treatment to achieve my desired results and there was no way to know for sure until I knew how my body would respond.
No one can predict exactly how your body will respond and the process does take time. While two or three weeks may seem like forever, you really need to give the process more time before you evaluate the results. If after six to eight weeks, the results fall short of your expectations, request your records and get a second opinion. Ask your existing practitioner questions and discuss your concerns. And definitely don’t hesitate to call and ask your doctor or nurse questions if anything is bothering you. The internet is not the best place to get answers and the best thing to put your mind at ease is to speak with a specialist. No question is insignificant if it’s worrying you.
How did I choose my practitioner?
I don’t want a deal or a special when it comes to any cosmetic procedures. I want a deal when I’m buying a new car. If a clinic is advertising specials on the radio or billboards, I stay as far as away as possible. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I cannot stress this point enough: You must know who is treating you and what their credentials are. The title of doctor or nurse is not enough when it comes to cosmetics. They must be reputable, experienced, and a specialist in the field of cosmetics.
I don’t get Botox at the hair salon, a medical spa, the dentist, or my general practitioners office (yes, it’s available at all these places and a lot cheaper!) I choose to see one of the most reputable surgeons in the Phoenix metropolitan area and the nurse injector in his office is a master injector. She trains other practitioners and has many years of experience. Are the injectables more costly? Yes, they are. However, this is one of the strategies I have chosen to use to avoid disappointments and some of the horror stories you may read from people on the Internet. Does it guarantee success? Of course not, there are risks with everything we do. You are at risk every time you get in the car and trust all the other drivers on the road. The important thing is to consider everything you can do to minimize risk and choosing your practitioner carefully is some of the best advice I can offer.
I hope this information helps put your mind at ease about Kybella side effects and is useful in helping you make decisions about the procedure. If you have access to a reputable practitioner, I would highly recommend the procedure. I am very happy with my results and eager for the injections to be approved for use in other areas.
There is a lot of information about Kybella on Allergan’s Kybella site and if you haven’t visited, definitely have a look. They have added a lot of new information for consumers which is very useful.
Please share your experiences or post any questions you may have about the Kybella side effects I experienced. I will always respond within a day! Happy New Year!