Belkyra (Kybella)– a New Treatment for Double Chin
Belkyra™ is an injectable medication approved for the treatment and reduction of excess fat under the chin (chin fat) on the upper neck, a condition that is commonly referred to as a “double chin” or sometimes even a “triple chin.” This is the first medication for double chin of its kind that has been approved by Health Canada. The FDA also approved this medication in the United States where it known as Kybella™. Kybella was released in the USA before Belkyra was allowed in Canada. The treatment is non-surgical and non-invasive, and consists of a series of injections of deoxycholic acid, which is a naturally occurring molecule in the body that helps break down fat. When injected into fat cells, it leads to destruction of fat cells. In our Edmonton clinic, Belkyra injections have been very effective and have made many patients very happy with their outcomes.
Is the treatment painful?
When doctors in the United States first started doing Kybella (Belkyra) injections, they did not use any freezing or anesthetic but when our dermatologist Dr. Nakatsui asked his Edmonton patients about pain, many of them told him that there was significant discomfort following injection. The good news was that despite this, they still came back for more because they could see the difference after just one treatment.
As a result, Dr. Nakatsui started using a small amount of anesthetic in conjunction with the injections and patients tell us it makes treatments virtually painless. Those who have done it with and without anesthetic tell us they would never go back to treatments without anesthetic! The injector must be careful, however, as anesthetic at the wrong concentration can precipitate the Belkyra, rendering it ineffective.
How Does Belkyra Work to Treat a Double Chin?
Belkyra is composed of deoxycholic acid. This is a naturally occurring substance in the body that can lead to destruction of fat cells. When fat cells are exposed to deoxycholic acid, it disrupts the cell membrane, leading to the release of the contents of the cell into the surrounding tissue. These contents consist of free fatty acids and glycerol, which are completely harmless. These may cause some temporary swelling and inflammation but this quickly dissipates as the body mops up the free fatty acids, returning them to the liver or eliminating them through the kidney. Once the inflammation dissipates, the tissue returns to normal, except that there are fewer fat cells!
What areas can Belkyra treat?
At this time, Belkyra has only been approved for use in the submental area (i.e. the upper neck under the chin). When a person has excess fat in this area, it is called submental fullness. Submental fullness can be caused by a number of factors, including aging, genetics, and weight gain, and is often resistant to diet and exercise alone.
If you are bothered by submental fullness, you are not alone! According to a survey of dermatologists by the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS):
- 67% of people are bothered by under-the-chin fullness
- People are bothered by under-the-chin fullness as much as they are by lines and wrinkles around and under their eyes
Submental fullness is a common, under treated condition that can detract from an otherwise balanced and harmonious facial appearance. For some, it can be a source of embarrassment and lower the self-confidence of both men and women. It can exaggerate age and even appear to make individuals look overweight.
How Much Does Belkyra Cost?
At our Edmonton skin care clinic, the cost of a Belkyra treatment starts at $600 per treatment if you have small amounts of submental fat. The average cost of a Belkyra (Kybella) treatment is $1200.
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How Many Treatments Are Required?
Typically, 2-4 treatments 8 weeks apart are required. Many patients experience visible results in two treatments. Once the aesthetic response is achieved, re-treatment is not usually expected as the fat cells tend to be destroyed permanently.
The number of treatments depends on the amount of fat and every patient is different. If you have a triple or quadruple chin, you would require more treatments as Belkyra can only destroy a certain amount of fat with each session. If you only have a small area of fat, less Belkyra or Kybella is required and less sessions will be necessary.
Who should not receive Belkyra?
You may not be a candidate if you have an infection in the treatment area; past surgery on your neck or chin; difficulty swallowing; bleeding problems; are pregnant (it is not known if Belkyra will harm your unborn baby); are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed.
Is There Any Downtime after Belkyra Treatments?
There is often some swelling after treatment that will last about a week. The swelling is secondary to the inflammation following destruction of the fat cells. This should probably be thought of as a good thing as it reflects the efficacy of the treatment. If there is no swelling, there may not be any disruption of the fat cell membranes. There can also be some bruising from the injections . In most patients, this is not noticeable to others and will usually dissipate within a week.
Most patients can return to normal activities immediately following treatment, although we do not recommend vigorous exercise immediately after treatment.
Does Belkyra Tighten Up Loose Skin?
If there is significant skin laxity and poor elasticity, patients will often require combination treatment consisting of Belkyra/Kybella injections and skin tightening procedures such as Morpheus8, Evoke, or ThermiTight. These radiofrequency devices are useful in tightening the skin after Belkyra injections. However, if the skin laxity is very high, these patients might be best off with a neck lift procedure.
If you would like to learn more about this procedure, call Nakatsui DermaSurgery (formerly Groot DermaSurgery Centre) at 780-482-1414 to schedule a complimentary consultation with our dermatologist.