Kybella is an FDA-approved, non-surgical treatment for “submental fullness” — aka, the double chin. It can also be used off-label (with an experienced provider) to treat stubborn fat pockets like bra rolls and thigh pouches. The treatment has been around for several years now, and it has grown in both awareness and popularity. While many clients now know what Kybella is, they still have questions about their recovery. Specifically: Does Kybella hurt? And also, “How long does Kybella swelling last?”
Read on for answers! (For context, I received Kybella from our owner, Dr. Lori Aliksanian, so the below is all from first-hand experience).
First, Some Basics.
Kybella works by injecting fat-busting deoxycholic acid beneath the chin via about 20 targeted injection points. The product begins killing pesky fat cells within minutes. Your body then metabolizes the dead cells out over a period of 6 to 12 weeks, leaving the area slimmer and more refined. While incredibly safe, the process is literally designed to damage specific cells (aka fat cells), which means swelling and some discomfort is inevitable. You can read even more about how Kybella works here.
Okay … But Does It Hurt?
Does Kybella hurt? The short answer: Yes and no. The injections themselves are incredibly tolerable. The actual needle used is tiny, and the product is injected into plump, cushiony fat — meaning you’ll hardly feel that part of the process. However, within a few minutes you will begin to feel a moderate burning sensation as the deoxycholic acid begins to take effect. How severe the sensation gets varies a lot from person-to-person and also on individual pain tolerance. Icing the area immediately after treatment will help a ton. (Plus, there is something oh-so satisfying about knowing that you’re literally feeling your annoying fat cells getting destroyed in real time).
How Long Does Kybella Swelling Last?
The breakdown of my Kybella swelling day-by-day experience:
Days 1-3: The swelling under my chin began within an hour of injection, and continued to increase until the third day after treatment. This was what I called the “peak Kybella swelling stage.” Ironically, my face looked rounder and my double chin looked bigger than before treatment. However, I knew this was temporary and also to be expected, so I just tried to lay low and ignore it. I was also vigilant about icing the area the day of treatment and the day after, and also kept pressure on it with an ACE bandage. I think this may have helped me avoid some of the more extreme swelling you read about.
Days 3-10: The swelling remained stable for about the next week. I didn’t notice any decreases or changes, but my under chin was definitely very tender. Little lumps developed in the treatment site, which I could not see but felt when I pressed. Dr. Lori assured me this was normal and that they would go away in time. I also contoured my chin and jawline with makeup to help me feel a little less self-conscious when leaving the house during this stage.
Days 10-14: Things started subtly changing by this phase. Swelling was definitely way down from where it was on Day 3. However, it also wasn’t totally worked out of my system. I don’t think anyone else would have noticed, but I definitely knew my under chin hadn’t yet returned to baseline. (And it certainly wasn’t better than it was pre-treatment yet).
Day 21: Three weeks after treatment and things finally looked totally back to normal! The tenderness was gone, and there was no sign of the previous swelling. Now I could actually begin to look forward to my results. The little lumps I had felt were also almost all the way gone, as Dr. Lori assured me would happen.
Tips for Minimizing Kybella Swelling
I personally really didn’t want to experience more swelling than I had to, so I scheduled my appointment on a day I knew I could be vigilant about icing. I also borrowed my boyfriend’s ACE bandage, which I wore around my head as much as possible for two days. (Wrapping it under my chin and then over the top of my head helped ensure consistent compression on my chin). The ACE bandage also allowed me to keep a small ice pack snug to my chin while keeping my hands free to work.
My vigilant icing and compression seemed to help. While I definitely experienced swelling, it wasn’t by any means the extreme “Kybella bull frog” look I feared. I don’t think anyone who didn’t know me would really notice — they’d just think I had a rounder lower face than I actually do. (Grant it, this was just my experience. Different bodies can react differently to the same treatment. So again, I’d just avoid scheduling any important events two weeks post-procedure to be extra safe).
Finally … is Kybella worth it? I think it is definitely worth it — especially if you don’t have a large amount of under chin fat and are looking to refine the area.
View our Kybella Before and Afters with real patients to see the results for yourself!