Kybella Versus Surgery For Chin And Neck Fat: What Are Your Options?

 Dr. Samuel Lin and Emma Peditto contributed to this article. 

Kybella, otherwise known as deoxycholic acid, is a new fat-dissolving, injectable drug used to treat submental fullness known as, “a double chin,” or “turkey neck.”  Kybella causes destruction of fat cells. Once destroyed, those cells cannot store or accumulate fat. After reaching the desired aesthetic of the patient, further treatment is not expected. One of the biggest advantages of Kybella is there is very little to no downtime after the injection.  Most patients can return to their daily activity level following the treatment, although it is advised to ice the area as much as possible after the injection to prevent bruising and swelling.   Kybella can be done in the outpatient office setting without the need for anesthesia or a surgical procedure.  A main disadvantage of Kybella is the fat reduction occurs over a series of treatments. Patients may require 5-6 treatments which are spaced 4-6 weeks apart at a cost.  This can be difficult for patients when they don’t see an immediate result because after spending a large amount of money, because they may not want to invest anymore time or money. Patients need to be reminded there is no immediate result seen with Kybella and they will need a full series of 5-6 treatments for best results.

On the other hand, when looking at the advantages of liposuction, fatty tissue is removed in one setting which patients may prefer because they see immediate results.  Liposuction can be tailored to each specific patient.  Liposuction does buy you a trip to the operation room as well as general anesthesia.  Although the risks of anesthesia are low, patients do have to consider the risk factors that can occur with any surgery procedure which are bleeding, pain, infection and other potential adverse outcomes that occur with surgery. Most surgeons will recommend patients take a few days off after the procedure to recover. A compression bandage is usually worn around the neck for 5-7 days to help decease swelling.

A third option is a neck lift or submental fat excision or a neck lift which is performed in the hospital with an anesthesiologist present.  In this setting the excess is removed directly and likely has the most significant early results.

While many may assume that choosing between Kybella and liposuction/surgery comes down to cost, it really comes down to the type of chin you have and which procedure is more convenient for your lifestyle. Those with a small to medium double chin may qualify for Kybella, while those with a more significant double chin accompanied by loose skin may benefit from a surgical procedure. Those with a moderately severe double chin who would benefit from either procedure may prefer Kybella for its ease and lack of downtime if they lead a busy lifestyle that does not allow for chin liposuction/surgery recovery.  Each procedure allows you to enjoy lasting fat removal and a younger-looking, more defined contour of the chin.​