What Exactly Does Kybella Do

When it comes to achieving a more defined jawline, many people seek solutions that don’t require invasive surgery. This is where Kybella comes into play. But what exactly does Kybella do? Let’s dive into the details of this popular treatment and explore how it can help you achieve your aesthetic goals.

What is Kybella?

Definition and origin

Kybella is a groundbreaking cosmetic treatment designed to target and reduce submental fat, commonly referred to as a double chin. This injectable solution harnesses the power of deoxycholic acid, a naturally occurring molecule in the body that aids in the breakdown and absorption of dietary fat. Kybella has its roots in years of scientific research aimed at finding non-surgical methods to address stubborn fat deposits in the chin area.

FDA approval

In 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave its seal of approval to Kybella, making it the first and only injectable treatment for reducing moderate to severe fat beneath the chin. This approval was a significant milestone, as it opened the doors for individuals seeking a non-invasive solution to improve their chin profile without the need for surgery.

How Kybella Works

Active ingredient: Deoxycholic acid

The key ingredient in Kybella is deoxycholic acid, a bile acid that the body naturally produces to help absorb fats. When formulated as an injectable treatment, deoxycholic acid can be directly administered into the fat beneath the chin, where it works to break down and absorb fat cells.

Mechanism of action

Kybella operates through a straightforward yet effective mechanism. Once injected, deoxycholic acid disrupts the membranes of fat cells in the targeted area. This process, known as adipocytolysis, leads to the destruction of the fat cells, which are then gradually eliminated by the body’s natural metabolic processes. The result is a noticeable reduction in the fullness under the chin, leading to a more contoured and defined jawline.

Target areas

While Kybella is primarily used to treat submental fat, its application is specifically tailored for the area beneath the chin. This targeted approach ensures that the treatment effectively reduces the fat in this particular region, providing patients with a more streamlined and aesthetically pleasing chin profile.

The Science Behind Kybella

Breakdown of fat cells

The scientific foundation of Kybella lies in its ability to break down fat cells. When deoxycholic acid is injected into the submental fat, it causes the adipocytes (fat cells) to rupture. This breakdown process is crucial because once the cell membrane is destroyed, the fat stored within the cells is released and becomes accessible for metabolic elimination.

Absorption and elimination process

After the fat cells are broken down, the body’s natural processes take over. The lymphatic system absorbs the cellular debris and transports it to the liver, where it is processed and eventually eliminated from the body. This gradual elimination process occurs over several weeks, allowing the treated area to reduce in volume and improve in contour. The body’s efficient handling of the destroyed fat cells ensures that the results of Kybella are both effective and lasting.

Benefits of Kybella

Non-surgical alternative

One of the standout benefits of Kybella is that it offers a non-surgical alternative for those looking to reduce submental fat. This is particularly appealing to individuals who are wary of the risks and recovery associated with surgical procedures.

Permanent results

Kybella delivers permanent results by destroying fat cells in the treatment area. Once these cells are eliminated, they cannot store or accumulate fat again, ensuring that the results are long-lasting as long as you maintain a stable weight.

Minimal downtime

Another significant advantage of Kybella is the minimal downtime associated with the procedure. Most patients can resume their normal activities shortly after treatment, making it a convenient option for those with busy lifestyles.

Benefits Of Kybella

Non-Surgical Alternative

Comparison with liposuction

When comparing Kybella to traditional liposuction, several differences stand out. Liposuction involves invasive surgery, which requires anesthesia, incisions, and a longer recovery period. In contrast, Kybella is a series of simple injections that do not require anesthesia or incisions, significantly reducing the risk and recovery time.

Advantages over traditional methods

Kybella’s primary advantage over traditional methods like liposuction is its non-invasive nature. This means fewer complications, no surgical scars, and less overall discomfort. Kybella treatments can be done in a medical office in a relatively short amount of time, typically during a lunch break, making it a highly convenient option.

What Exactly Does Kybella Do?

Pre-treatment consultation

Before undergoing Kybella treatment, a pre-treatment consultation with a qualified healthcare provider is essential. During this consultation, the provider will assess your overall health, examine the treatment area, and discuss your goals and expectations. This step ensures that you are a good candidate for Kybella and helps establish realistic outcomes.

What to expect during the treatment

The Kybella treatment itself is straightforward. The provider will mark the injection sites and administer a series of small injections into the submental fat. The number of injections and the amount of Kybella used will depend on the extent of the fat under the chin and the desired outcome. The entire process usually takes about 15 to 20 minutes.

Post-treatment care

After the treatment, it’s normal to experience some swelling, bruising, or numbness in the treated area. Applying ice packs and taking over-the-counter pain relievers can help manage these symptoms. It’s also advisable to avoid strenuous activities and excessive sun exposure for a few days following the treatment.

Pre-Treatment Consultation

Assessment of candidacy

During the pre-treatment consultation, the healthcare provider will evaluate whether Kybella is suitable for you. This involves reviewing your medical history, understanding your aesthetic goals, and assessing the amount and distribution of fat under your chin. This step is crucial to ensure the treatment will be both safe and effective for you.

Setting realistic expectations

Setting realistic expectations is a key part of the consultation. The provider will discuss what Kybella can achieve and how many treatments you might need to reach your desired outcome. Understanding that results are gradual and may require multiple sessions helps ensure satisfaction with the final result.

During the Treatment

Injection process

The injection process for Kybella is relatively quick and simple. After marking the specific areas for injection, the healthcare provider will use a fine needle to inject the Kybella solution into the submental fat. The number of injections varies depending on the size of the treatment area and the amount of fat present.

Pain management

While the injections are generally well-tolerated, some patients might experience mild discomfort. To manage this, providers often use ice packs or topical anesthetics to numb the area before the injections. Post-injection, any pain or discomfort is typically mild and subsides within a few hours to days.

Session duration

A typical Kybella session lasts about 15 to 20 minutes. This quick procedure time is one of the many reasons why Kybella is so appealing—it can easily fit into a busy schedule, even during a lunch break.

Injection Process for Kybella

Post-Treatment Care

Recovery tips

Post-treatment care is straightforward. To minimize swelling and discomfort, apply ice packs to the treated area intermittently for the first 24 hours. Keep your head elevated when resting and avoid strenuous activities for a few days. Following these simple steps can help ensure a smooth recovery.

Managing side effects

Common side effects of Kybella include swelling, bruising, pain, numbness, and redness at the injection site. These are generally mild and resolve on their own within a few days to a week. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help manage any discomfort. If you experience any severe or unusual side effects, it’s important to contact your healthcare provider promptly.

Side Effects and Risks

Common side effects

Like any medical treatment, Kybella comes with its own set of potential side effects. The most common ones include swelling, bruising, pain, numbness, redness, and areas of hardness in the treatment area. These side effects are generally mild and tend to resolve on their own within a few days to a week. Swelling is the most frequently reported side effect and can sometimes last longer, but it usually subsides significantly within the first week.

Rare complications

While rare, there are some potential complications associated with Kybella that patients should be aware of. These can include difficulty swallowing, nerve injury in the jaw (which can lead to an uneven smile or facial muscle weakness), and in very rare cases, serious infections. These complications are uncommon, but it’s important to discuss all potential risks with your healthcare provider before undergoing treatment.

When to contact a doctor

It’s crucial to know when to seek medical attention following a Kybella treatment. If you experience severe or persistent symptoms such as intense pain, signs of infection (like increased redness, warmth, or pus at the injection site), or if you have difficulty swallowing or breathing, you should contact your doctor immediately. Early intervention can help manage any complications effectively and ensure your safety.

Who is an Ideal Candidate for Kybella?

Suitable candidates

Kybella is best suited for adults who have moderate to severe submental fat and are looking for a non-surgical way to improve their chin profile. Ideal candidates are those with good skin elasticity, which allows the skin to adapt well to the reduced fat volume and achieve a smooth, natural-looking result. Additionally, candidates should be in good overall health and have realistic expectations about the outcomes of the treatment.


There are certain conditions and factors that may make Kybella an unsuitable option for some individuals. These contraindications include:

  • Infections: If you have an active infection in the treatment area, you should not receive Kybella until it has cleared.
  • Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as bleeding disorders or issues that affect healing, may preclude the use of Kybella.
  • Pregnancy and Nursing: Kybella is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women, as the effects on unborn babies and infants are not well studied.
  • Allergies: If you have a known allergy to deoxycholic acid or any other components of Kybella, you should avoid this treatment.


Kybella offers a revolutionary, non-surgical approach to reducing submental fat, providing a viable solution for those seeking a more defined jawline without the risks and downtime associated with surgery. With its active ingredient, deoxycholic acid, Kybella works by effectively breaking down and eliminating fat cells in the chin area, leading to permanent results. The procedure is relatively quick, involves minimal downtime, and has a high satisfaction rate among patients.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many treatments are needed?
The number of Kybella treatments required varies depending on the individual and the amount of submental fat present. On average, most patients need 2 to 4 treatment sessions to achieve their desired results.

Is Kybella safe?
Yes, Kybella is considered safe when administered by a qualified and experienced healthcare provider. The FDA approved Kybella in 2015 after rigorous clinical testing demonstrated its safety and efficacy for reducing submental fat.

How long do results last?
The results of Kybella are permanent. Once the fat cells are destroyed, they cannot regenerate or store fat. This means that the reduction in submental fat is long-lasting, provided you maintain a stable weight.

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