What To Know Before Trying Kybella, The Double Chin Treatment

Kybella, the double chin treatment used by celebrities, is taking the world by storm. Proponents say that it can permanently dissolve fat cells and sculpt your jawline after just a few sessions. The treatment targets submental fat, the so-called "double chin." In a 2017 survey, more than half of respondents said they were dissatisfied with the area under their chin, reports the Aesthetics Journal, and nearly 30% of male participants have grown a beard because of it!

From a medical perspective, there is nothing wrong with having submental fat. This aesthetic condition has little to do with your lifestyle choices or body weight. As Healthline notes, you don't have to be overweight to have a double chin. Many times, submental fullness is due to aging, genetics, or loss of skin elasticity.

Back in 2016, Khloe Kardashian made headlines after showcasing her side profile on social media. Her jawline looked slimmer and noticeably different. As it turns out, the reality TV star was using Kybella — the "double chin shot" (via Cosmopolitan). But what is Kybella and how does it work? Are there any side effects? Let's find out.

Kybella, the double chin treatment, works by destroying fat cells

Kybella is an injectable prescription drug containing a synthetic version of deoxycholic acid. This bile acid occurs naturally in the human body and plays a key role in lipid metabolism (via the U.S. National Library of Medicine). Its synthetic form was approved by the FDA in 2015. The drug is used to reduce the appearance of moderate to severe submental fullness, or excess fat beneath the chin.

The drug delivers 10 milligrams of deoxycholic acid per milliliter, according to the FDA. One vial has 2 milliliters. After administration, it dissolves fat cells permanently (per Kybella). The FDA states that a single treatment may include up to 50 injections and should not be administered more than once a month. Patients can receive up to six individual treatments. West End Plastic Surgery says that most people need to undergo two to four treatments to achieve noticeable improvements. A typical session lasts about 20 minutes.

In clinical trials, patients had at least a 10% reduction in submental fat, reports the FDA. A 2016 review confirms that Kybella is well-tolerated and "extremely effective," according to the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Moderate weight gain doesn't affect the results, says Dr. Paul Ruff at West End Plastic Surgery. However, you can expect to get a double chin after several months or years if you gain a lot of weight. Aging can compromise the results, too, but it won't happen overnight.

Some say that its drawbacks outweigh any potential benefits

Last year, Sofia Marroquin went viral after sharing her experience with Kybella on TikTok. The 19-year-old had the treatment to get rid of her double chin, but she ended up with a square head, reports the Daily Mail. The swelling subsided within one week, but it took her eight weeks to see the final result.

Along with bruising, swelling is a common side effect of Kybella, the double-chin treatment. "I tried it on myself and was shocked by the massive swelling I saw," cosmetic dermatologist Paul Jarrod Frank told Allure. "Kybella can carry an enormous amount of downtime relative to the small percentage of improvement we get from it." Another problem is that it can take months to see dramatic changes. 

Since most patients require multiple injections, the costs can add up quickly. Expect to pay over $6,400 to get the desired results, depending on the amount of deoxycholic acid used (per JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery). That's more than double the average cost of neck liposuction, reports Allure. Also, there is no guarantee that your investment will pay off.

At the end of the day, it's up to you to decide whether or not Kybella is worth it. Discuss your options with a plastic surgeon or dermatologist to see if you're a good candidate for the double-chin shot.