There is now a new treatment to get rid of fat under the chin that is nonsurgical. A double chin can make a person look older and heavier. Until now the only treatment that got rid of the double chin was liposuction.
In April, the FDA approved a new treatment called KYBELLA™ to remove submental fat, also known as double chin. KYBELLA™ is a synthetic deoxycholic acid. Deoxycholic acid is a naturally-occurring molecule in the body that aids in the breakdown and absorption of dietary fat. When injected into the fat beneath your chin, it destroys the fat cells. At this time it is not indicated for other areas of fat, only under the chin.
Approximately 1,600 patients were treated with KYBELLA™ in clinical trials. Of those patients, 68% responded to treatment. While that does not seem like a large percentage, response to treatment was defined by very strict criteria in the study. A larger number of patients (79%) were satisfied with the appearance of their face and chin after treatment.
How Are Treatments Performed?
KYBELLA™ is a liquid that is injected under the skin using a tiny needle. Usually multiple small injections (average of 20 but no more than 50) are made in the pocket of fat under the chin. Most physicians are numbing the area with a local anesthetic, such as lidocaine, before the treatment to eliminate the pain and discomfort.
After treatment the patient can use ice packs for 10 minutes every one to two hours the first day to help diminish swelling and bruising from the injections. Ibuprofen can be taken to help with tenderness after the local anesthetic wears off. Swelling, bruising and numbness were the main side effects. The swelling is worst the day after treatment and better after a few days. Bruising can be covered with makeup or scarf.
In the clinical trials, about 4% of patients developed an asymmetrical smile due to irritation of the nerve or muscle that controls the smile. This effect resolved on its own after an average of six weeks. Difficulty swallowing was another rare side effect (2%) that was temporary and resolved on its own. These rare side effects can be avoided by proper dosing and placement of the medicine. It is important to have a physician who has been properly trained perform your treatment.
How Many Treatments Does it take to See Results?
It takes an average of two to four treatment (up to six) sessions to see the best results. The treatment sessions are usually spaced four to six weeks apart. The results should last a long time, at least four years, which is the longest follow up to date. The product comes packaged in vials. The cost of the vials to the patient is between $600.00 to $700.00 (depending on geographical location) and the average treatment requires about two vials. Therefore if it takes two sessions using two vials per session the total minimum cost would be $2,400.00.
What about loose skin? Loose skin under the chin, also known as skin laxity, was not addressed in the clinical studies. At a recent meeting, some of the original investigators relayed that skin looseness did not worsen and one physician stated there was a 25% improvement. There are nonsurgical skin tightening devices such as Venus Freeze, Thermage and Ultherapy to name a few. It will be interesting to see if patients who have both double chin and loose skin could get an even better result with a combination of treatments using KYBELLA™ and one of the skin tightening devices.
To help with neck wrinkling continue to wear sunscreen and smile—the upturned corners of your mouth will point to your face and not your neck. Accentuate the positive!