Does Kybella Live Up To The Hype?

kybella-bna-panelThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Kybella for non-surgical treatment of double chins in April 2015. Since its debut on the market, Kybella has been called “a game-changer,” a “miracle drug,” and a “double-chin killer.” Khloe Kardashian has agreed to be the “face of Kybella” in the new “Chin Up” marketing campaign. Currently, 175 independent reviewers have given Kybella an 83% “Worth It” rating.

Manufacturer Allergan reported net revenues from Kybella sales of $12.7 million in the second quarter of 2016, with representatives anticipating it will one day rival the $2 billion they haul in from another wildly successful product they sell – Botox. “We own the face,” said Philippe Schaison, president of Allergan’s U.S. medical business, referring to their “liquid facelift” combination of Botox, Kybella, and dermal fillers. He said of Kybella specifically: “It’s a disruptive technology. It’s working great, and there’s nothing like it.”

Can you really get rid of your double chin without surgery?

Kybella uses deoxycholic acid to break down fat cells, which are naturally disposed of by the body. The injections are indicated for isolated submental fat deposits without skin excess. The ideal patient is relatively young, with small pockets of fat. Plastic surgery remains the only way to remove loose, lax, excess skin. If you are overweight or have a good amount of excess fat and volume in areas other than just the “double chin”, then your success with Kybella may be limited.

What studies prove the efficacy of Kybella?

The FDA approved Kybella for double chin treatment based on evidence from two clinical trials at 70 sites in the U.S. and Canada that enrolled a total of 1,022 adults with “moderate to severe amounts of submental fat located beneath the chin or lower jaw.” Kybella appeared to work equally well among men and women. The majority of the patients were between the ages of 19-65 and were predominantly white, so differences in response could not be determined.

The results demonstrated that patients receiving up to six treatments of Kybella showed significant reductions in submental fat compared to patients receiving placebos. Nearly 70% of subjects responded to Kybella based on a composite of physician and patient measurements. Patients reported improvements in self-esteem and happiness following treatment with Kybella.

Are there any side effects?

Rare side effects identified during the clinical trials included nerve injury causing uneven smile or facial muscle weakness, and difficulty swallowing. More common side effects included: swelling, bruising, pain, numbness, redness, and areas of hardness in the treatment area. Most adverse side effects resolve on their own within two to four days.

Is Kybella better than liposuction?

Most plastic surgeons will tell you that Kybella is not necessarily better at removing fat than liposuction… but it is considerably less invasive. Patients like that there are no incisions necessary with Kybella injections. This decreases the risk of infection, adverse bleeding, and adverse reaction to anesthesia. There is also less downtime. On the downside, up to 50 injections can be administered in one Kybella treatment session. Most patients require 2-4 treatments, spaced a month apart, to get the results they desire.

Is Kybella worth it?

Kybella is not the first blockbuster drug to debut with so much hype. Other fat removal systems — Liposonix (ultrasound), Vanquish (radiofrequency), Cellulaze (laser), and CoolSculpting (cryo)—have all started out with high approval ratings that waned over the years. On the other hand, treatments like Botox and liposuction continue to enjoy great market success.

According to prominent Manhattan plastic surgeon Dr. Aviva Preminger, “Personally, I have seen great results in my practice, as I select my patients judiciously and spend appropriate time in consultation discussing what is or isn’t possible. I’m always happy to show patients what they might look like following treatment with computer imaging software, as well as “before” and “after” photographs of actual results.”

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