With such a wide range of injectable cosmetic treatments out there, it can be challenging to keep track of the details.
What results can you expect? How long will they last? A baseline understanding of the details can help you plan appropriately before scheduling an appointment.
Let’s take a look at Kybella specifically. How long does Kybella last? What else do you need to know?
What Is Kybella?
Kybella, or deoxycholic acid, is an FDA-approved cosmetic injectable treatment that reduces submental fullness (commonly referred to as a “double chin”). This accumulation of fatty tissue underneath the chin is regularly cited as one of the top concerns impacting appearance, alongside fine lines and wrinkles.
Traditionally, there aren’t many treatments that can take care of submental fullness without requiring plastic surgery.
Kybella is currently the only FDA-approved injectable “double chin” treatment on the market, which is a significant part of its continued popularity. With so many people concerned about their facial profile, Kybella is a non-invasive dream come true.
Compared with the other options, like liposuction, it looks even better.
How does Kybella work?
The active ingredient in Kybella is a synthetic form of deoxycholic acid, a bile acid naturally found in the intestines. When deoxycholic acid encounters dietary fat during the digestive process, it breaks them down quickly so that it can be more easily absorbed.
The acid can do this so well because it can break down the membrane surrounding the cell, creating cytolysis — “dissolution” or “disintegration” of a cell.
The same concept applies to injecting Kybella into the submental area, or the area under the chin. When deoxycholic acid is injected into the subcutaneous tissue, the middle layer of the skin, it seeks out fat cells and destroys them.
Unlike other cells in the body, fat cells cannot regenerate themselves. These cells turn into a type of cellular debris, and specialized immune cells can clear the body through the lymphatic and circulatory systems.
The body also metabolizes the deoxycholic acid after it is done performing its job, so it doesn’t remain in your system longer than necessary.
This process takes several weeks to complete, which is why you won’t see the results right away after treatment. However, once the swelling goes down, many people see a slight difference once the swelling goes down even after just one treatment.
Is Kybella a single cosmetic treatment?
Like most cosmetic injectable treatments, Kybella requires more than one appointment to achieve the best results possible. However, unlike other procedures, like Botox or Dysport, once you have completed treatment, you will not have to continue to return for additional treatments to maintain those results.
Kybella requires between two and six treatments to reduce submental fullness as much as possible, with one to three months between them.
Some people choose to pair their Kybella injections with other cosmetic treatments, like dermal filler, to change the silhouette of their chin and jaw even more noticeably. Talk to your provider about your options and develop a customized treatment plan to achieve your goals.
What is a Kybella appointment like?
When you schedule an appointment to have Kybella injections performed, it can help to know what to expect.
Kybella appointments generally last no more than 30 minutes. During this time, feel free to ask any questions that you might have.
We’ll start by applying a cold pack to the areas of your chin that will be receiving the injections. This helps in two ways — first, by constricting the blood vessels, which helps to reduce the potential for swelling. Second, the cold numbs the area so that the actual injections don’t hurt as much.
We believe this is a large part of why Kybella tends to be relatively well accepted and tolerated by our patients.
Once the area has been numbed thoroughly, it’s time for your actual Kybella injections. These injections will be performed using a thin needle injected directly into the subcutaneous fat in the under-chin area.
There will be several injections, each targeting a small area and helping to get full coverage. After your procedure, you can apply cold packs to the area again. This will further help to reduce swelling and allow you to return to your day with minimal downtime.
What should I expect after my appointment?
Kybella appointments may not take long, but what can you expect afterward? Is there much downtime associated with these injections? Here’s what you should expect after your Kybella procedure.
MONITOR ANY SIGNS OF SWELLING—
For most people, downtime after Kybella injections is minimal. Immediately after your appointment, you’re most likely to notice some mild to moderate swelling under the chin, which is usually easy to cover up using clothing. If the swelling is noticeable or causing you any tenderness, you can continue to use ice packs on the area to help reduce it.
Remember to wrap your ice pack in a washcloth instead of placing it directly on your skin, and don’t use it for more than 20 minutes at a time. For the first 24 hours after your injections, you can do 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off to help manage the symptoms.
There is also some slight tenderness associated with the period after your injections. As long as it remains mild, you can use Tylenol as needed to manage it (verify with your doctor that this is safe for you before using it). If the tenderness becomes more severe, or if you have any trouble swallowing, contact your medical provider.
AVOID ANY POTENTIAL RISKS—
We also recommend that you avoid any manipulation of the area as much as possible during treatment. This includes any massaging, pressing, scratching, rubbing or even excessive touching, which can disrupt the deoxycholic acid and cause additional tenderness and swelling.
It may also help to change your sleeping position, especially in the first few days after your injections. Try sleeping with your head slightly elevated on a pillow, face up. Sleeping this way helps reduce the swelling by using gravity and keeps pressure off of the area while it heals.
TREAT YOUR BODY WELL—
And finally, focus on treating your whole body well during the healing process. Drink plenty of water and other non-caffeinated fluids, get at eight hours of sleep and avoid drinking alcohol, smoking and foods with high levels of sodium, sugar and refined carbohydrates.
How long does Kybella last?
Once injected, how long does Kybella last?
The good news about this drug, especially when you compare it to other cosmetic injectables, is incredibly long-lasting. While it is likely to take more than one treatment to get optimal results, results are likely to be permanent once you've reached them.
However, this doesn’t account for changes in your lifestyle. The active ingredient in Kybella permanently stops fat cells underneath your chin from being able to store and produce fat, but that doesn’t mean the body can’t produce more cells. If you don’t follow a healthy lifestyle, your body may respond by creating additional fat cells that may end up in the under-chin area.
With this in mind, you must maintain a healthy, balanced diet and exercise plan after finishing your Kybella treatment. If you don’t, you run the risk of developing other fat cells and reversing the results of the injections.
Are there any side effects to Kybella injections?
No cosmetic injectable comes without the potential for side effects. While those side effects are mild in the majority of cases, there are a few more severe side effects that can occur.
After receiving Kybella injections, most people experience some mild to moderate swelling and tenderness in the area. Generally speaking, these side effects only last for a few days, but mild swelling may continue for a few weeks.
Other mild side effects that you may experience include:
Head and neck tension
Hardness at the injection site
There are also some more severe side effects to watch out for. If you experience any of the following, please contact your provider right away:
An uneven smile
Weakness in your facial muscles
Discomfort or swelling in the neck
Can anyone get Kybella?
Kybella is considered safe for most people over the age of 18. We’ll start with a full consultation to discuss what you hope to achieve to ensure that you qualify. As part of that consultation, come prepared with a complete list of any medications you’re currently taking — both prescription and over-the-counter.
Anticoagulants (also known as blood thinners), antiplatelet drugs, and aspirin are of particular concern. People who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also not receive Kybella injections due to the lack of research on how the drug will impact a developing fetus or if it can pass to your baby through your breastmilk.
To sum things up...
How long does Kybella last? If done correctly and with the recommended number of treatments, Kybella can permanently reduce the fat under the chin.
It’s crucial to have your injections performed by a provider who is licensed, trained and experienced at them, like our advanced practice providers at Skin Pharm.