Clinic News

Meet Kybella: A new treatment designed to melt fat

kybella

Since its release in June 2015 the demand for the fat-melting drug Kybella is growing quickly, but how does it stack up to existing treatments like CoolSculpting and is it the ultimate solution to the ‘double chin’ curse?

Kybella, developed by the pharmaceutical company Allergan, is the latest fat-melting injectable drug to be approved by the FDA.  The treatment is a synthetic form of deoxycholic acid, identical to the molecule naturally produced in the body to aid in the absorption of fat.

According to the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, the issue of the double chin is rising affecting 68 percent of Americans. The breakthrough non-invasive treatment of Kybella is providing another option to surgical treatments for the growing number of patients wanting to address this problem area.

Derek Jones, a dermatologist on the faculty at UCLA and lead investigator in the clinical FDA trials of Kybella, told The Hollywood Reporter “I’ve never seen a demand like this, except for Botox. We have a waiting list of people who have been calling for months.”

injection

HOW KYBELLA WORKS: Fat is ‘melted away’ and excreted by the body

When Kybella is injected into the tissue below the chin, referred to as submental fat or fullness, it acts to disrupt the fat cells.

Immediately after Kybella is released, it causes lysis destroying the fat cell membrane.  As a result, the cells breakdown and release their fatty contents. While it’s not exactly like melting a stick of butter in the microwave, it does breakdown the solid fat cells. The body recognises the Kybella substance in a similar way the liver recognises bile and naturally metabolises it before the by-product is excreted.

If injected correctly, all the healthy cells around the submental fat, remain intact and unaffected as well as nearby nerves and muscles.

kybella-before-after

A series of Kybella injections can improve the chin contour

Patients can have up to 50 small injections of Kybella during a single out-patient consultation which takes about 20 minutes.  During this time, the deoxycholic acid will be working to breakdown the submental fat.

In two clinical trials of patients with moderate or severe submental fat, significant reductions were seen.  After a series of treatments, patients have reported not only a reduction in the fullness of the chin area, but also an improvement in the contour.   The number of treatments required depends on how much submental fullness the patient has, but may participants of the FDA study saw noticeable results after three to four treatments.

Patients can have up to six treatments of Kybella administered to achieve the desired result.  These appointments should be schedule in no less than one month apart.  According to Kybella, results are long-lasting and patient’s will not be required to undergo retreatment in the future as the fat is destroyed and will not return.

The aim of the new treatment is to remove the fat directly under the chin area to establish a more attractive cervicomental angle of the jawline.  This can make a huge difference to those with a double chin.

According to the Kybella website, more than 79 percent have reported to be satisfied with the appearance of their face and chin.  They also noted, patients have an improved self-perception as a result of the treatment.

coolsculpting-before-after

Kybella vs CoolSculpting in treating the double chin

CoolSculpting and Kybella are now two very popular non-invasive treatments aimed at removing fat in smaller areas of the body such as the neck. Both treatments are safe and highly effective at treating the troublesome double chin, yet differences between the two remain.

CoolSculpting have created an applicator known as the CoolMini which is applied under the neck area for an hour to literally freeze the fat cells.  In a similar way to Kybella, the fat cells are broken down and excreted naturally by the body.  It can take up to four months to see the final results as the “melted” fat cells are removed overtime.

In a clinical trial, which lead to the FDA approval of the CoolSculpting technique, 60 patients received one to two CoolMini treatments under the chin.  Patients on average saw a 20 percent submental fat reduction and were highly satisfied with the procedure itself and the results.

Both Kybella and CoolMini are non-invasive treatments revolutionising the ability for cosmetic surgeons and dermatologists to treat small areas of fat.  However, unlike CoolMini, Kybella uses needles which have been reported to be slightly painful and there is also a risk of bruising and swelling in most patients.

Kybella verses CoolMini in the treatment of double chins
Kybella CoolMini
⚬ Effective in small areas ⚬ Effective in small – medium areas
⚬ Needles ⚬ No needles
⚬ Substance injected ⚬ No substance injected
⚬ Painful ⚬ Slight discomfort
⚬ Risk of bruising & swelling ⚬ No risk of bruising & swelling
⚬ Tenderness ⚬ Tenderness
⚬ Numbness lasting 4-8 weeks post treatment ⚬ Numbness lasting 4-8 weeks post treatment
⚬ 4% of patients reported marginal mandibular injury ⚬ No marginal mandibular injury reported
⚬ Repeat treatments required ⚬ Repeat treatments required
⚬ Lasting results ⚬ Lasting results
⚬ Skin tightening ⚬ No significant skin tightening
⚬ Cost – $$$$ ⚬ Cost – $$

chinliposuction-before-after

Kybella vs Liposuction in treating the double chin

The advantage of Kybella, like CoolMini, is that it is an option for those who are not wanting to undergo surgery or for situations where surgery can’t be performed.  While Kybella is considered a great non-invasive treatment to remove fat from the chin area, how does it compare with the traditional liposuction procedure?

Liposuction is considered the gold standard in fat removal, especially in problems areas such as the neck.  Unlike Kybella, liposuction is a surgical procedure where fat is removed through small cannulas which are inserted into the treatment area through several 2 millimetre incisions.  It can also be used in a wide variety of areas, whereas the FDA have clearly warned consumers “Kybella should not be used outside of the submental area”.

The results of liposuction can be impressive and Cosmos Clinic doctors believe it is a far superior treatment.  Patients are also treated in one single procedure, rather than it being a process of 3-4 treatments.  While Kybella can achieve skin tightening, depending on the amount of fat destroyed there may be some skin looseness which also wouldn’t be experienced in liposuction.

There are clear advantages of the new treatment that can’t be ignored.  Patients are not required to go under sedation, meaning there is reduced downtime making the treatment more convenient for some patients. It is important to keep in mind, in some cases surgical side effects are experienced after using Kybella making recovery similar to a surgical procedure.

Kybella verses Liposuction in the treatment of double chins
Kybella Liposuction
⚬ Effective in small areas ⚬ Effective in small – large areas
⚬ Needles ⚬ Incision
⚬ No sedation ⚬ Use of conscious sedation
⚬ No fat removal ⚬ Fat removed via suction
⚬ Painful ⚬ Slight discomfort for 2-5 days
⚬ Risk of bruising & swelling ⚬ Risk of bruising & swelling
⚬ Tenderness ⚬ Tenderness
⚬ No compression garment ⚬ Compression garment required
⚬ Numbness lasting 4-8 weeks post treatment ⚬ Numbness lasting 4-8 weeks post treatment
⚬ 4% of patients reported marginal mandibular injury ⚬ 1% risk of marginal mandibular nerve injury
⚬ Repeat treatments required ⚬ No repeat treatments required
⚬ Downtime minimal ⚬ Downtime 2-3 days
⚬ Lasting results ⚬ Lasting results
⚬ Skin tightening ⚬ Significant skin tightening
⚬ Cost – $$$$ ⚬ Cost – $$$

The future of Kybella for fat removal

Beverly Hills plastic surgeon David Hopp is one of the first US doctors approved to administer Kybella and is surprised by its popularity. “There’s been a lot of interest in the community — patients started asking for it the day the FDA cleared it!” he tells The Hollywood Reporter.

As the injectable has a direct destructive effect on fat, Hopp believes it could take place of lipo.  Jones also agrees and adds “The data says the largest percentage of users will be female. But males willing to take steps to get rid of double chins is a growing demo. A double chin can be genetic — you can be in shape and still have one.”

Currently Kybella is only approved for the submental area just below the chin with the FDA yet to know whether the product is safe or effective in other problems area, but this may not be the case in the future.  Dermatologist Peter Kopelson says FDA-approved doctors are able to use it “off label”, meaning they can test its effectiveness in other areas.

“I suspect it will be for targeted use, like love handles, under-eye fat pockets and fat above the knees — something even young women complain about. Not for large areas like buttocks, but this is definitely very promising”.

Comments

  1. Hi Elouise, we have a trial scheduled in August and understand the supplier is hoping to do the official launch early next year. Hope this helps.

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