• Infinity Wellness Spa

Kybella 101:

Updated: Jan 27, 2019


FUN FACT: a study published in the journal Nature Communications found that men with high levels of the hormone testosterone and certain stress hormones also have stronger immune systems and tend to have more masculine facial features such as a strong jawline — considered an attractive physical trait.

We tend to think of jawlines as being a physically attractive feature on men, particularly when they're strong and square, but I think very few women realize that jawlines are just as important for them, as well.

Enter, Kybella.

Kybella is a product containing a synthetic form of deoxycholic acid, which is a naturally occurring molecule in the human body. Normally, the deoxycholic acid in our body is there to aid in breaking down dietary fat and absorbing it. But what happens when some fabulous scientists package it into a vial and then we get to inject it into your face? Bingo, it destroys the fat cells under your chin, refining your jawline and giving you an elegant profile. Can I get an amen?

Before we dive into the, shall I say, "cutting edge" techniques behind Kybella (no, I will not stop using that pun), let's have a quick science lesson!

Imagine your house. You're planning a lovely dinner party, with just the right number of guests. In this analogy, the house is your body, and the guests are your fat cells (stay with me). Unfortunately, even though you thought you'd planned the perfect party, some things go awry and it turns out your guests are obnoxious. You've got too many big personalities in the room, and it's not what you wanted. Remember that these are your fat cells--it's not that you have too many, it's that they're too overbearing. This is how your fat cells work. Eating a donut or two (or ten, I don't judge) doesn't cause your fat cells to multiply; it causes them to expand. Once they've expanded, they always want to stay that way, which can make it hard to lose weight, and easy to regain it once you've lost it.

So in this scenario you have these horrendous dinner guests, and you're losing your mind because it's chaos and this isn't the dinner party of your dreams. So, let's say you very politely are able to get some of the guests to leave. They've left the house! A miracle! And now you never have to invite them back in. That, my friends, is Kybella.

Kybella actually destroys the fat cells. These cells can't accumulate or store any more fat, because they've left the house! If it weren't science, I'd say it was magical.

Now that you have an understanding of Kybella and what it does, let's talk about whether it's the right fit for you.

Do I need Kybella if I'm thin?

Well, first of all, no one ever needs any of these procedures in the sense that if you don't get it you'll die. At least so far as I can tell (although I will say I personally would be deeply unhappy if I couldn't get Botox anymore). The better question to ask is, do I have excess fat around my jaw? This isn't necessarily correlated to body weight. I'm fairly slender (i.e. I don't carry a lot of excess fat around my body) but for some reason I have a fairly plump lil' chin, in the sense that there is definitely some fat to be grabbed. It's not excessive, but it's enough that I wanted to sculpt my jawline a bit to get rid of my perpetual babyface. Inside I will forever be twelve, but at least I can look like an adult on the outside. #mature

However, on the other end of the spectrum--if you are someone who carries excess fat around your body, including your chin, this is a great treatment option for you! Granted, Kybella is only for small pockets of fat (like under the jawline, or the "bra fat" you get between your armpit and bra strap), but we have something called CoolSculpting that does virtually the same thing, only using different technology to destroy the fat cells. More on that later, but in the meantime, to help refine your face, Kybella is a great option. Unlike Botox and dermal fillers, which eventually have to be replaced, Kybella is permanent. Once you've said adios to those fat cells, they're gone, forever.

Ok, forever sounds kind of permanent.

What if the treatment doesn't give me results I want?

Fair question. Forever is a long time, so we want you to be happy with your results. The great thing about Kybella is that it's incredibly straightforward. You either want a more sculpted jawline or you're happy with how it is now. That's really all there is to it. Now, if you're not exactly sure what you want (this is a-ok, because when it comes to your face it's better to be cautious) go in for a consultation and talk to a practitioner. Our practitioners hand you a mirror, and poke and prod your face while you watch so you know exactly what you're getting into. In other words, they'll gently adjust the fat/skin around your jaw and hold it in place so you can get a sense of what it'll look like when it's gone. I also recommend going to a clinic that errs on the side of being more conservative with their injectables. If you see a series of before and afters of huge duck lips and frozen faces, you might want to reconsider that practice. As always, just get a good sense of the practitioner and the technique they want to use. If something doesn't feel right, wait until you feel completely comfortable. It's better to wait and find the practitioner that's right for you, and make sure the treatment is something you definitely want.

An important side note for women: we tend to lose quite a bit of fat in our face as we age. So although you may have slightly more plumpness now than you want, if you're in the 20-30s range, keep in mind that by the time you get to 40+, your face will already have started to thin out (excess weight gain aside).

What should I expect at my appointment?

Expect it to be quite mellow and relatively quick! If you choose to numb, you'll do that first, for about 15-20 minutes. I'm going to go out on a limb here and mention that for as much of a pansy as I am about needles, I don't think numbing medication makes a difference here. You'll be getting a series of small injections with a very small & short needle, or, conversely, only a few with a longer needle (different practitioners have different techniques). Either way, I'm going to mention this now: Kybella can burn, and the numbing is topical, so it doesn't really affect the internal discomfort, post-injection. Kybella's job is to dissolve fat cells, so the sensation you experience when it's first injected can be a little uncomfortable. Most people think the discomfort accompanying a procedure is due to the needle, but in this case, the Kybella can cause a burning sensation for an hour or sometimes even a bit longer. To clarify, I don't mean burning as in, help-I-am-on-FIRE, but more of an uncomfortable, prickly, warm sensation. So if you experience that, don't panic! We always have ice on hand at our clinic, so we can give you a bag before you leave, and as an assistant I always have a bag of ice handy to apply even as soon as after the first couple of injections. Once the injections are done, that's it! Which brings me too...

What should I expect after my appointment?

I am going to mention here that what I did not expect was to swell like a frog, but that's exactly what happened. I think it's important to lay it all out there, not to scare you off, but so you can be prepared and do what I did not: plan. your. schedule. accordingly. I attempted to take some photos shortly after receiving my treatment, and when I showed my sister, the first thing she said was, "my god! Your jaw looks HUGE." Thanks, sis.

To be fair, not everyone reacts this way. So I want to be clear that you might only get a little swollen, and that's it. However, we can never predict how someone will react, so please please please, as always, make sure you don't plan any important events for 1-2 weeks out from your treatment. Otherwise you will look back at those photos and wince. #foreverfrog

Other side effects of Kybella can include numbness and bruising, discomfort, redness, and areas of hardness (those will dissolve). The most important thing post-treatment is to make sure you can swallow comfortably, since this is in the throat area, and there will most likely be discomfort and swelling.

There are some potentially more serious side effects from the treatment, like nerve damage or ulcers from the injections. I have yet to see this happen, but it's good to be informed & understand the risks before you go in for your appointment. And, of course, if you have any concerns post-treatment, always call and check in with the practice!

How many treatments do I need?

Short answer: no more than six treatments, at least one month apart. The long answer: it depends, and I really can't tell you. How much fat do you have under your chin? What kind of results do you want? If you have lots of excess fat, and want an extremely sculpted jawline, it's going to take more treatments. If you want just a little nip at the excess, and are looking for slight refinement of your jaw, then maybe you only need one or two treatments. Keep an open dialogue with your practitioner, always! And, it never hurts to say--it's better safe than sorry. You don't have to go all out the first time, if you're not sure what you want. Keep in mind that the swelling will hide results, so be patient, and wait at least a month between treatments to see what results you're actually getting, and how you feel about them.

What do I do once my treatments are all done?

Easy: go out and live your life! You now have a jawline that is model-worthy and potentially capable of cutting through a block of cheese. What more could you want?

Layla Raz

Reach out if you have questions using the contact form located on the home page. Questions & suggestions are always welcome. While you're at it, check out my Instagram for more fun tips & tricks, and to say hi!

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