Deoxycholic acid (Kybella) is a safe, non-surgical treatment used to dissolve fat cells in the body. This treatment is a less invasive alternative to liposuction or CoolSculpting. It is a synthetic product that mimics a naturally occurring molecule that aids in the breakdown and absorption of dietary fat in the digestive system. When it is injected into the fat cells of the body, it physically destroys the cell membrane causing cellular lysis (or destruction of the cells). This is a permanent result – each fat cell destroyed will not heal or grow back after treatment. This product is manufactured by Allergan and was FDA approved in the US in 2015. The product was initially used for submental fat (double chin), but the use has expanded widely.
The treatment takes about 30 minutes in total. Topical numbing is applied to help with the discomfort during the injection. The product is administered through a series of tiny injections into the desired treatment area. We apply a temporary tattoo as a visual guide to ensure the optimal distribution of the product. After injection, the patient experiences a warm or burning sensation that subsides within several minutes. Ice packs are applied to combat that temporary sensation. The fat destruction process occurs over the next several days and the final results manifest over the following 12 weeks.
Tip 1: This product is not specific to fat cells, so if it is injected carelessly or improperly, side effects can occur. Be sure to choose a medical professional with adequate training and experience.
The results develop slowly over about 12 weeks, at which point, the next treatment is performed. Most patients require a series of treatments to achieve the desired results. Studies have shown that areas with a large volume of fat can require up to 6 treatments. After each injection series, results will be evaluated during a follow-up visit. When an optimal result is reached, no further treatment is necessary, and this result is permanent.
Side Effects & Recovery
Due to the nature of this treatment, swelling is expected. As cellular lysis (destruction of the cells) occurs, the body’s natural healing and elimination processes take over, leading to swelling. This stage is necessary for the destruction of the fat and generally resolves within 1 week. As this product is injected with tiny needles, bruises are possible as well. The bruising is generally mild and resolves within 1 week. We ask our patients to return for a follow-up appointment about 12 weeks after each treatment.