The Surgeon Minute

Melt Away Fat with Kybella Injections

Melt Away Fat with Kybella Injections

Nobody looks good with a double chin. Not only is it aging, but it can make you look heavier than you are. Kybella injections is a non-surgical serious of treatments for eradicating excess fat. Made of deoxycholic acid, this injectable literally melts away the fat in the treatment area. The results are permanent as long as you maintain a healthy weight.

Designed and FDA approved for treating the submental fat under the chin, plastic surgeons have begun to safely use Kybella “off label” to address other problem areas of excess fat. As the first plastic surgeon in Massachusetts to offer his patients Kybella injections, Dr. Sean Doherty of Boston is uniquely qualified to discuss its many new off label uses.

What is Kybella?

Kybella is a synthetic form of deoxycholic acid, a naturally occurring substance in the body that aids in the breakdown and absorption of fat. When injected into a pocket of excess fat, Kybella literally destroys the fat cells. With time, these now dead cells are eliminated through your lymphatic system. Once the fat cells are gone, they are gone for good. This means that as long as your weight stays stable, the results from your Kybella treatment are permanent. However, if you do gain weight, your remaining fat cells can grow bigger which will adversely affect your results.

Kybella injections in the neck.

Are You a Candidate for Kybella?

“When patients realize that Kybella is a non-surgical way for effectively and permanently removing fat, the natural next question is ‘Can I use it all over my body?'” shares Dr. Doherty. It’s important for you to schedule a consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon who will:

  • discuss the pros and cons of Kybella injections
  • examine your anatomy to determine if it’s right for you
  • talk about appropriate expectations

The ideal candidate for Kybella has small, isolated pockets of fat that are resistant to diet and exercise. He or she must also have good skin elasticity. Otherwise, once the fat is gone, the skin will sag and this may look even worse. Just because Kybella can melt fat without surgery does not mean that it is the right choice for you. “It’s not really an exchange for liposuction. It’s an adjunct,” explains Dr. Doherty.  Also, Kybella injections can be quite costly so sometimes it just doesn’t make sense from a purely financial stand point.

Off Label Uses of Kybella

Products are often designed for a specific use. For instance, Botox was only FDA approved for treating the 11 lines between the eyes. It was just recently approved for use on the forehead. Yet, you have probably had Botox placed elsewhere on your face or body. This would be considered an “off label” use.

Off-label uses of Kybella injections.

“Off label” does not mean that using the product in such a way is dangerous. While the FDA has only approved the use of Kybella for the submental fat under the chin, better known as “double chin fat,” plastic surgeons such as Dr. Doherty have begun to safely and effectively use Kybella to treat other areas of fat on the body, such as:

  • bra fat located in front of the armpit
  • back fat located behind the arm
  • any fatty lumps that develop above a c section scar
  • excess fat around the knee

Kybella injections can also be a great way to “clean up” any contour irregularities following liposuction, SculpSure or CoolSculpting.

Benefits of Kybella

“Certainly, we are bothered by fat in other parts of our face and body,” explains Dr. Doherty. This is why plastic surgeons have branched out to use Kybella in new and innovative ways.

Downsides of Kybella

The only real downside to Kybella is that it takes time. If you have liposuction, you will look smaller almost immediately. While it might take months for all of the swelling to fully resolve, you are going to look markedly better at 6 weeks post op.

With Kybella, the procedure itself may only take 20 minutes, but patients will typically need between 2-4 treatments. These treatments should be spaced anywhere from 6-8 weeks apart. That kind of time commitment isn’t for everybody.

Kybella injections recovery.

Recovery from Kybella

Kybella does not require any downtime or compression garment like liposuction. However, you will be swollen and bruised for at least a couple of days no matter the treatment area. Dr. Doherty advises his patients to take an over-the-counter antihistamine for 2 days prior to their procedure in order to reduce swelling. And while arnica can certainly help with the bruising, everybody is going to heal at his or her own rate.

The end result, shares Doherty, “[is the] permanent removal of fat, which is awesome.”

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