Kybella: Plastic Surgeons Trade the Scalpel for the Needle

Kybella: Plastic Surgeons Trade the Scalpel for the Needle

There is finally a non-invasive alternative to liposuction to reduce submental fullness, commonly referred to as a “double chin”.

With the recent introduction and FDA approval of the first and only non-invasive treatment for submental fat, more and more patients are opting away from liposuction. Kybella is a fantastic alternative to liposuction for many patients, and in this article we’ll discuss some of the similarities and differences between the two treatment options.

Is Kybella more or less effective than liposuction under the chin?

Both procedures are effective at eliminating the fat under the chin, but are done in different ways. Which treatment is right for you can depend on your body, your goals, and your preferences. Let’s talk about how each one works.

Liposuction is the most common form of plastic surgery to reduce submental fullness. The surgeon will numb the area with local anesthetic and use a tube to suction out and remove unwanted fat.

Kybella, on the other hand, is a non-invasive procedure that can be done in an office setting in about 30 to 45 minutes. Multiple treatments may be necessary, at eight-week intervals, with no more than six treatments.

The active ingredient in the injection is deoxycholic acid, which is a substance your liver produces naturally. It is used in the body to break down and absorb dietary fat, and it does the same thing when carefully injected into the neck and chin area. It actually destroys fat cells, rendering them unable to store or accumulate fat in the future. The fat then gets processed through the body’s natural metabolism and eliminated. No other tissue should be affected within the neck.

How does the healing process work for Kybella?

There will likely be swelling for the first 3 to 5 days, so we recommend you don’t schedule your treatment the week before an important event. Aside from having to ice the area hourly the first day and the option of wearing a chin strap the first two nights, there is minimal aftercare needed.

There may be some bruising and discomfort, though most of Dr. Mai’s patients have reported the pain from Kybella treatments at a mere 2 out of 10. Swelling is common in the first week following the injections, and there may be tingling in the month following the procedure. There is less swelling and discomfort with the second treatment and following treatments.

How does that compare to healing after liposuction? Side effects of liposuction include swelling, bruising, soreness and numbness, and you can be put at risk for infection and blood clots. Patients typically need to take 3 to 5 (or more) days off of work with liposuction under the chin, and they often need to wear a compression garment for as long as two weeks. Numbness after liposuction can last two to four months and is sometimes permanent. Patients can be left with baggy or rippling skin that can take up to four to six months to retract and tighten. Severe bruising may last up to three weeks.

Which is right for you?

As you can see, the procedures are quite different. The decision on which would better suit your goals should be made by you after a consultation with your doctor.

There are obvious upsides to a non-invasive option, and after extensive research and training on the Kybella injections, Dr. Mai and  MD Refresh are now offering this treatment to patients who would like a slimmer neckline without undergoing plastic surgery.