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Aging and genetics can create stubborn fat in certain body parts that no amount of exercise or dieting can eliminate. Fat under the chin at the neck, known as a double chin, is one of those areas.

Surgical procedures like liposuction and plastic surgery used to be the only skin care options that could address this area. The invasiveness of those treatments, long recovery times, and general risks associated with them left many individuals with no suitable treatment options.

Since 2015, plastic surgeons have used Kybella, an Allergan product, to treat this frustrating problem for patients. It’s an injectable filler that is FDA-approved to treat fullness under the chin. It’s sometimes referred to as a “fat melter” due to its transformative ability.

Kybella is made of a safe acid that is injected during an outpatient cosmetic procedure. It gets to work immediately, breaking down fat cells that create the full under-chin appearance. The treatment has been available for over five years, allowing physicians to hone their techniques and fine-tune the process.

Cosmetic injections are medical procedures. You need to understand Kybella and how it is administered before seeking it out. Learning as much as you can about Kybella ensures you can be fully informed about it and ask the necessary questions during your dermatology consultation.

What is Kybella?

Kybella is a solution whose main active ingredient is deoxycholic acid, which is a bile acid. It naturally occurs in the human body and is used during digestion to break down fats.

It received FDA approval to treat under-the-chin fat in 2015. Kybella provides consistent results and is administered in a series of injections spaced about one month apart.

How Does Kybella Work?

Fat is stored in cells throughout the body when we consume more calories than we burn. They break down when we enter a caloric deficit and our bodies need energy but cannot get it from food.

While diet and exercise can help us achieve the deficit needed for weight loss, some areas of the body store fat more stubbornly than others. It’s impossible to target a specific part of the body for fat loss with exercise.

As we age, or if we’re genetically predisposed, fat stored under the chin is difficult to lose. Once your doctor injects Kybella, its acid works to break down and destroy fat cells. Once each cell is gone, extra calories cannot be stored in its place. That’s how Kybella stops fat from accumulating under the chin.

The dead cells are absorbed by the body and filtered out through the kidneys and digestive system. Kybella is safe because it uses a naturally occurring body acid to break down the fat.

Fat destruction is a process. Kybella’s results are not instantaneous because the acid must break down the fat. At least two treatments are typically necessary to achieve visible results. Some patients require as many as six. The fullness of your chin will dictate your treatment plan.

Cosmetic Benefits

One of Kybella’s best attributes is how noticeable its effects are. Your double chin will disappear, creating a toned appearance in the chin and neck. As long as you do not carry excess skin in your neck, the chin’s gradual shrinkage will allow the skin to tighten.

With this double chin treatment, you won’t experience any loose skin or jowls. Kybella helps restore a youthful appearance to the face and neck, creating sharper definition to accentuate your jawline and chin. The loss of the double chin will also draw attention back to your face.

Risks and Side Effects

Kybella injections are a medical procedure. Despite their overall safety, there is a slight risk of nerve damage that could alter the appearance of your submental area. Improper injections could also damage cells other than fat cells.

The risks are higher when you receive Kybella from a salon or spa. The product is only approved for cosmetic treatment under the chin. You should never accept Kybella injections for off-label use.

Common side effects of Kybella are generally mild and usually subside within two weeks. They include:

Kybella vs. Botox


Kybella and Botox are regulated medical procedures that are only safe when administered by a trained physician. They are both FDA-approved, and both products are injected into the face to address signs of aging. Both are non-invasive alternatives to surgeries.


Kybella uses acid to destroy fat cells and prevent them from returning. It is only approved to contour double chins.

Botox is a synthesized neurotoxin that prevents muscle contractions that cause wrinkles and folds in the skin. It is primarily used in the forehead and around the eyes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Each Kybella injection (syringe) costs between $1,200 and $1,800. Depending on your case, optimal results may require multiple injections. Your geographic location and doctor’s experience will dictate the actual cost. Health insurers consider Kybella elective, so it is usually not covered.

Kybella is most effective for patients with a double chin and fullness caused by dietary fat. Patients with significant excess skin in their neck are poor candidates because the fat loss exacerbates the loose skin and may lead to complications.

Kybella is a safe injectable treatment for those with stubborn submental fat. The drug is approved and regulated by the FDA. As long as you receive the injection from a licensed physician, complications and serious side effects are rare.

Improper injection at a spa or salon can result in the acid attacking healthy cells instead of fat or irreversibly damaging facial nerves.

Kybella is injected during an outpatient procedure. Your doctor will examine you, rule out contraindications, and determine where to insert the injections. They will mark those sites with removable ink.

The procedure lasts about 20 minutes. Each dose of Kybella allows your doctor to give up to 50 injections. They are spaced about 1 cm apart. The number of injections you receive will depend on how full your double chin is, but most patients receive 20 to 30 injections.

You can only undergo one dose of Kybella per procedure. Inflammation, redness, pain, swelling, bruising, and injection site numbness are all possible after the procedure. Fortunately, they are temporary and will fade in two to four weeks.

Most patients have no downtime. You will be able to return to work and normal daily activities following the procedure. Your physician may direct you to wear a compression garment to manage swelling.

Kybella is injected with fine needles–that is why your doctor may make up to 50 injections. It may be mildly uncomfortable, but your doctor will use a topical numbing agent or ice your chin to reduce pain.

Kybella works by destroying fat cells and preventing them from growing. The results are permanent and usually apparent within six to eight weeks. Significant weight gain can result in fat returning to the treatment area.

The number of treatments for optimal results varies by patient. The fullness of your double chin and response to the injections will determine how many treatment sessions are necessary.

Most people require more than one treatment. Visible results are usually achieved with two to four treatments. Kybella cannot be administered more than six times. You need to wait four to six weeks between each dose.


Kybella is a revolutionary solution to a persistent problem that could only be solved with invasive surgery. Cosmetic injectables are well understood and have been used for decades.

Today, physicians are adept at administering Kybella to reduce submental fullness.

The drug is composed of naturally occurring acid that our bodies produce. Kybella offers a permanent solution and requires no follow-up procedures to maintain your new appearance.

Always consult with an experienced and board-certified doctor to ensure optimal results.