As a result of the selfie craze, Facebook and video chat, many people are unhappy with what they see when they look at their chin or neck. A bulge in this area is caused by a collection of cells called submental fat. When the face is level or tilts down, this fat bulges outward, causing the appearance of a double chin. Until now, the only means of effectively reducing a double chin was via surgery or liposuction; plastic surgeons had to cut it out or suck it out. Now, however, that is all about to change, due to a new in-office injection called Kybella (or, formerly, ATX-101).

Kybella ATX-101 was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a treatment for adults with moderate to severe submental fat in April 2015. When Kybella (ATX 101) is properly injected into submental fat, it destroys the targeted fat cells. That’s why Kybella (ATX 101) should only be administered by a licensed healthcare professional to ensure proper treatment.

Submental fat is a very common problem among people, even if they are of normal body size. Many have tried dieting and exercise but cannot seem to get this area to budge. According to a 2014 study from the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery, 7 of 10 patients are bothered by fat under their chin.

Interestingly, we are all born with a finite number of fat cells. The reason that areas of fat become larger is not due to additional fat cells, it is due to the fat cells themselves becoming larger. This is why destroying fat cells gives permanent results; your body will not generate additional fat cells to replace the destroyed cells. Fat is very different from other tissues, such as skin and bone, where the body is constantly breaking these cells down and replacing them with new ones.

As we age, the fat cells in our neck grow in size. The tissues around the fat cells, such as muscle and skin, also become more lax. The combination of these two effects lead to a double or sagging chin. Our offices is equipped to serve those in the Fairfax County, VA, Richmond, VA, and Washington, DC, areas who wish to rid themselves of bothersome submental (chin) fat.

Kybella ATX-101 before and after treatment image.
Before and after injection of ATX-101

Below are answers to some common questions:

How Does Kybella Work?

The drug is made of a compound called deoxycholic acid, and is not derived from animal products. Deoxycholic acid works by dissolving the membranes of fat cells, causing them to dissolve. The body then naturally breaks the fat down and absorbs it. Deoxycholic acid is a natural part of our bodies, it is part of the digestive process and helps our body use fat.

Is it Safe?

This product has any excellent safety profile. The Phase I studies for FDA approval make certain that any drug is safe before continuing in studies. Kybella (ATX 101) has been in development for 8 years, and has been in 19 clinical studies involving 2,600 patients. In the largest study, 97.6 percent of treated patients reported improvements in their neck and chin. Patients said that they felt less self-conscious and younger, and felt they looked as if they had lost weight.

What are Kybella Side Effects?

The side effect profile is minimal. Most common side effects are bruising, pain during injection and swelling. All of these side effects resolve within a few days. Interestingly, patients had most side effects on their first injection, and had less in subsequent injections. 

Who is a Good Candidate?

Healthy patients with double chins (submittal fat) are excellent candidates. The product is not effective for patients with excess skin laxity under the chin.

Who Should Inject Kybella ATX-101?

Once the product becomes available, it should be injected by a board certified physician who understand the important anatomy of the area under the chin. Although  Kybella ATX-101 is safe, there is potential for more serious complications if it is injected improperly. There are delicate nerves and veins in this area, so intimate knowledge of the anatomy is imperative. Improper injection could lead to permanent nerve damage or accidental injection into a blood vessel. For these reasons, it is recommended to seek a board certified facial plastic or general plastic surgeon who is also an experienced injector.

Who is a Good Candidate?

Healthy patients with excess fat under the chin and have realistic expectations for improvement are excellent candidates. The safety in pregnant or nursing mothers has not been established. Inform your physician if you are taking aspirin, blood thinning medications, or have a blood clotting disorder. Patients with drooping or very lax skin are not good candidates and might obtain better results with surgery.

Can it be Used Elsewhere in the Body?

No. The product should not be used for weight loss or to address other areas where people seek to remove excess fat such as the belly or thighs. It is to be used only in the submental area directly below the chin.

Will Kybella ATX-101 Replace a Facelift?

No. Patients who have excess skin laxity or jowling will not benefit from this product. These problems are best addressed by a surgical procedure.

How Much Does Kybella Cost?

The price for Kybella has not been set, as it varies among providers. You can contact our office for current prices, but should estimate a cost between $1000 and $2000.

I will be posting regular updates about this exciting product. Subscribe to my blog for the latest information if you live in Fairfax County, VA, Richmond, VA, or Washington, DC, and would be interested in receiving Kybella ATX-101.

I will be posting regular updates about this exciting product. Subscribe to my blog for the latest information. Make an appointment today by calling (804) 775-4559 or submitting your information via the form below. Visit us to experience the joy of having youthful skin again.

Dr. Travis Shaw is a double board certified facial plastic surgeon voted best bedside manner and runner up best plastic surgeon in Richmond VA. He will be offering Kybella for patients in Washington DC, Fredericksburg, Williamsburg and Richmond VA.