Chances are, if you have tried to lose weight before, you are all too familiar with the notion that some deposits of body fat are easier to lose than others. One area that many people struggle to shed excess fat from is the chin. Called submental fullness, extra fat in the chin (also known as a double chin) was once nearly impossibly to lose. That is until 2015, when a new product called Kybella debuted on the cosmetic injectables market.
Kybella was cleared by the FDA on April 29, 2015, specifically for use in the chin. The product launched in plastic surgery clinics everywhere shortly after, to rave reviews. But just three years later, many of those first Kybella users are beginning to cry foul on the injectable.
Plastic surgeon Dr. Ryan Mitchell offers Kybella to patient in his Henderson, Nevada, clinic. He says that much of the disappointment with Kybella is that many people don't realize that it's not a one-shot deal.
"Kybella is one of those procedures that you may need several injections of before you're fully satisfied with your results," says Mitchell. "It rarely only requires one injection."
The problem with multiple injections is that they cost multiple times what many patients are expecting to pay - and require multiple recoveries.
"A lot of patients are confused about Kybella. There's a lot of misinformation out there," says Mitchell. "I think when you hear that an injection can melt fat, it's natural to assume it works immediately, but that's not how Kybella works. It takes time, there is swelling and downtime, and you may need to get several treatments before you get the results you want."
That, and Mitchell says that while the results are permanent, if you gain weight following treatment, you could end up with more fat deposits around the treatment area. If patients aren't aware of this in advance, it can come as quite a surprise - and quite a disappointment.
"The Kybella kills the fat cells so the fat won't come back in the treated area, but it still can come back, and it may come back in a new area," Mitchell says. "If you normally gain weight in the chin, it could come back in the neck post-Kybella, which may look unnatural. This can also happen with liposuction."
So, what's a patient to do? Mitchell recommends if you are considering Kybella to visit a plastic surgeon for a consultation to get an idea of what to expect. The surgeon can tell you how many treatments you may require and what you can expect as far as downtime and cost. He or she can also tell you if you're a better candidate for another procedure, like liposuction.
"Kybella can be a great option for some people, but it's not the only option. A board-certified surgeon can help you determine which procedure will work best for your individual needs," says Mitchell.