So, you want to know the answer to the question: Does Kybella work? It’s always difficult making a decision to try a new product. The first questions that came to my mind when considering it was does this treatment really work? Is it worth the investment? What are the risks? I’m going to share everything I know about the product and my personal experience having Kybella administered.
UPDATE January 2017: I have written an additional article about Kybella on my blog addressing the most common questions readers have asked regarding Kybella and the side effects. You can access my new Kybella article here and I’ve also offered tips to help you deal with the common side effects.
What is Kybella?
Kybella is an injectable for adults with moderate-to-severe fat below the chin, known as submental fat. It is a chemical that is identical to something produced within our own bodies that helps us absorb fat. When this chemical is properly injected into the submental fat, it permanently destroys fat cells. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Kybella (deoxycholic acid) for submental use on April 29, 2015.
Why did I choose to use Kybella?
If you read my blog regularly, you know that in late July 2015, I had rhinoplasty performed. It was at that time, I was studying photos of my profile and noticed I had developed submental fat, despite being at an ideal weight. I was so upset when I was viewing my photos, I wanted liposuction performed in the area at the time the rhinoplasty was done. The surgeon did not advise liposuction as it can leave loose skin behind. As you get older your skin loses elasticity and this can result in undesirable effects after liposuction. My issue wasn’t bad enough to consider a neck lift which may involve liposuction and then surgically removing extra skin. A gradual elimination of the fat using Kybella was recommended to me and it was explained that my skin would respond well to the gradual change. I made up mind immediately and I was willing to try Kybella.
The drug is so newly available in the U.S., I could only read Internet reviews from people I didn’t know and look at photos on line. Of course, there’s an element of doubt when I look at photos these days because I know people are posting before and after photos all over the internet that are not genuine. For example, look at the overwhelming photos of people using abdominal wraps. Absolutely under no conditions are most of the results being posted possible. The after photos are simply not the result of a series of botanical wraps. The transformational photos being displayed are either altered using a Photoshop type product or abdominoplasty has been performed. In younger people, it’s possible they achieved results with dieting but most photos are very extreme transformations and you are probably looking at someone who had a tummy tuck. When I see this bullshit plastered all over the Internet, I have to question the integrity of everything that I haven’t witnessed first-hand or heard from a trusted source. I trusted my surgeon and that is why I made the decision to proceed. I know that he would not allow me to have false expectations.
What are the risks of using Kybella?
Risks associated with the use of this product are high if not administered by a highly trained professional. This is where many people make the mistake of going to a border town or having an unqualified individual perform the procedure to save money. In my opinion, it is never worth the risk to save on costs and if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. If you want to minimize risks, you have to have medical procedures performed by licensed, experienced, and certified professionals.
Major risks of using Kybella:
Nerve injury in the jaw that can result in trouble swallowing, an uneven smile, or facial muscle weakness.
More common side effects and risks of using Kybella include:
Swelling, bruising, pain, numbness, redness, and lumpy areas in the treatment region. These are considered expected side expects and are usually worse with the first set of injections. These side effects are also expected to be temporary.
Many readers have had questions about the side effects I experienced. I have published an updated post with more details about the side effects and tips to help you prepare and deal with the common side effects of Kybella.
What is the procedure like?
I opted to forego local anesthesia in the area being treated but it is was offered. There are topical numbing agents that are often used with injectables like Botox and fillers and I was comfortable using that. If you regularly get Botox or fillers, potential pain from the injections may not concern you. For me, I’m willing to endure a short period of pain as long as I know there is an end in sight. Also, I don’t like the numb feeling from local anesthesia.
Depending on how severe the submental fat is and how your body responds, you may undergo anywhere from one to six treatments at least four weeks apart to achieve the desired results. Each treatment is a series of injections in the treated area. Typically this is going to be somewhere around 20-30 injections with each treatment for a female. Men have larger areas and may require a bit more. I know your jaw just dropped but in all honestly, I didn’t think it was that bad. The worst of it is each injection burns for about 5-10 minutes but then that passes and I would describe the feeling as moderate discomfort that quickly subsides.
How much will Kybella cost?
The cost of the treatment is going to vary depending on where you are located, how many procedures you require, and who performs the procedure.
If you live in the Los Angeles area and you go to a cosmetic surgeon’s office in Beverly Hills, you may pay more for the procedure than if you go to a medical practitioner in Denver, Colorado. If a surgeon performs the injections, you may pay more than if a nurse practitioner who specializes in injectables performs the procedure. The important thing to evaluate is the experience the individual has working in injectables and how many times they have worked with Kybella.
As I mentioned earlier, you may undergo anywhere from one to six procedures. Each time the procedure is performed, it may cost around $1000-$1500. It will depend on the size of the area being treated. One person may require 2 vials and another may require 3 or 4. It’s possible, you may require 3 procedures at $1200 a procedure for a cost of $3600. And it’s not necessarily that you require it, but it’s the point at which you are satisfied and have achieved the results you want to.
Does Kybella work?
Yes, it works and I’m horrified to post this before photo! I have undergone one treatment and within 4 weeks, I have observed a profound change. For me, I think one additional treatment would resolve all my concerns but I will likely have it done twice more because I want the area very defined and entirely free of any fat. I scheduled the second procedure seven weeks from the initial procedure and I have not had it yet. Within about four weeks of the first treatment, the volume in the area is half what it once was. I’m too ashamed to even post the initial photo because I think the profile looks so horrible! I had no idea the problem existed until I saw my profile photos and I was in tears. I am going to post my results at 4 weeks down below and I will update this post with the results after the second and third treatments.
At this time, the area is still somewhat numb and I expect to see further reduction in volume prior to the next treatment. Immediately after the procedure, I experienced minor bruising, extreme numbness, and the area was sore for about ten days. The swelling was quite noticeable for three weeks. It has just begun to subside. As the swelling subsided, I saw the change. My husband also noticed it and was shocked at the results. There is still swelling in the area and it’s normal to experience swelling after any procedure. Usually, within eight to ten weeks, swelling resolves enough that others may not detect it. A medical professional could see it and you may feel it, but to the average person, they don’t notice anything.
Kybella is an FDA approved and highly effective method of eliminating submental fat. It doesn’t come without risks but there are risks associated with any medication or medical procedure you undergo whether it is voluntary or involuntary. Major risk associated with the use of Kybella can be minimized by having the procedure performed by a qualified medical professional.
While results may vary from person to person, I have experienced a profound change and reduction of submental fat after the initial procedure. Most individuals require multiple procedures depending on the severity of the fat in the area and the body’s response to the chemical. Kybella permanently destroys fat cells and is currently only approved for use in the submental region.
Kybella Update 2/16/16
I have now completed two additional treatments. I will post a final photo when I am six weeks out from the third treatment so you will see the final result.
Kybella Update 3/25/16
I am now 6 weeks passed my third Kybella treatment in the below photo. Here is a quick selfie I took and you can see the major difference the procedure has made. There is still some expected reduction of fat in the area and depending on how it looks in a few more weeks, I may do one final session. However, the dosage will be much lower than my first 3 sessions. Observe the jawline between the initial photo, the photo after the first treatment, and now.
Kybella Update 7/7/16 – Current State
I am now 4 weeks passed my fourth Kybella treatment in the below photo. Here is a quick selfie I took trying to have my head at the angle the original before photo was taken. There is still some expected reduction of fat in the area since I am only 4 weeks out from a treatment. However, I would still consider a fifth treatment at this point (That means I will have invested about $5,000 to get from point A to point B). Just so you have a realistic expectation of costs. Some areas of the country may be less but I think an average cost of $1,000 per treatment is accurate. In my opinion, the treatment and the cost was worth every penny! I feel really good about my profile and I have a lot more self confidence.
Some of you are noticing a difference in the overall profile of my face. *An important thing to note is the original photo was taken for a rhinoplasty consult. All subsequent photos are post-rhinoplasty which significantly changed my profile. Try covering the upper half of my face on the screen with a sheet of paper to focus only on the chin area.
More information about Kybella
These videos include portraits for a male and female who underwent Kybella treatments and also cover the potential side effects associated with the procedure. I thought you might find these helpful.
I always welcome your questions and will promptly respond. Please feel free to ask me anything you would like about my experience.
My procedures were performed at: Shapiro Cosmetic Surgery by Pat Foley R.N. and Master Injector, Scottsdale, AZ 480-451-1700
For an updated Kybella article where I address the common side effects of Kybella and offer some tips on how to deal with them, click here.