There’s a new FDA approved fat-melting injectable and we’ve got questions. Thanks to dermatologist, Jeanette Graf, MD, we’ve also got the answers. Dr. Graf is renowned for her expertise in the art of injectables and was hand selected by Kythera Biopharmaceuticals to be one of the first doctors in the country to be trained on this new treatment. She’s also an acknowledged KYBELLA™ instructor, training other physicians on the fine points of injecting it.
Kythera’s KYBELLA™ is the new FDA-approved non-surgical, fat-melting injectable, used to diminish moderate to severe fat on the upper neck (aka a double chin). It’s the first and only non-invasive, non-surgical treatment to address this condition and it works because of a naturally occurring molecule — a form of deoxycholic acid — which breaks down fat. It’s currently available at the offices of select dermatologists, cosmetic surgeons, and plastic surgeons.
“Prior to this introduction, those suffering from excessive fat under the chin could only turn to invasive procedures such as liposuction and/or surgical tucks. While it’s great that there is now a non-invasive, more accessible form of treatment, there are some important things to know about the procedure,” says Dr. Graf. Here, Dr. Graf shares what you need to know:
How does it work? Once injected into the fat cells under the chin and in the neck area, the deoxycholic acid destroys the fat cells that are then metabolized by the body naturally. Once demolished, those cells cannot accumulate or store fat, resulting in a slimmer, more contoured appearance beneath the chin.
Please explain the procedure. The injections are not painful and last just five to ten minutes.
- Before beginning the procedure, I strategically mark the area with small dots under the chin, focusing on the areas with the most fat cells, to localize where KYBELLA™ will be injected. By marking the area we avoid critical structures such as the mandibular nerve, salivary glands and the thyroid gland.
- The area is anesthetized by either topical numbing agents or a local anesthetic injection, which is my preference. Some patients may experience burning, particularly if topical anesthetic is used as opposed to a local anesthetic injection.
- Once the area to be injected is drawn out and localized, a grid is placed over the area where the injection sites are marked. Again, correct placement of KYBELLA™ is critical and only a dermatologist, cosmetic surgeon or plastic surgeon should be administering it.
- When the injections are completed, the grid is removed and ice packs should be applied for at least 20 minutes to diminish any swelling.
Is the recovery period long? What about side effects? As with any procedure, there can be some downtime involved. In addition to swelling which can vary in duration, depending on the patient, there might be some soreness and bruising. Therefore, a waiting period of 4 to 6 weeks is necessary before a second treatment is given.
For patients who are prone to swelling, bruising and redness from injections, I recommend having the procedure performed during the cooler months so they can wear a scarf or turtleneck to hide any residual, temporary swelling.
How many treatments are needed for optimum results? Depending upon the amount of fat beneath the chin, follow-up rounds of injections may be needed, which are spread out a month or more apart, to fully treat the area. Up to six sessions may be needed to reach the desired result. Naturally, the number of sessions required will determine the cost of the procedure. It’s best to go for a consultation in order to receive a customized cost estimate.
Anything else to know about KYBELLA™?
- It’s not a good option for those with excessive skin beneath the chin as it specifically targets fat cells. Loose and excess skin needs to be addressed with different procedures.
- Because it’s an aesthetic procedure, it is not covered by insurance.