Allie Slowik, PA-C

Age-Defying Expert
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Kybella Swelling: Understanding and Managing

Kybella, with its active ingredient deoxycholic acid (a bile acid naturally found in the human body), offers a non-surgical alternative to fat removal procedures.

Smiling woman gently touching her chin after undergoing Kybella treatment. Her skin appears smooth and toned, showcasing the successful reduction of submental fat.

Kybella, with its active ingredient deoxycholic acid (a bile acid naturally found in the human body), offers a non-surgical alternative to fat removal procedures. While it’s widely considered a safe option for adipose tissue reduction & body contouring in the jawline, armpits, back, and upper knee regions, Kybella injections do come with certain side effects; one of which is post-injection swelling. Let’s dive into what you should know and how to handle it.

Kybella Swelling and Side Effects Management

Swelling and bruising at the injection site are common side effects of Kybella; in fact, post-injection swelling is actually a sign that the medication is actively working in the treated tissues. These post-procedure effects are typically short-lived, resolving within a few weeks post-treatment. It’s worth noting that some anecdotal accounts suggest that Kybella swelling may peak a couple of days after the procedure but gradually subside within a month.

To manage Kybella swelling, consult your aesthetic provider for personalized recommendations. They may suggest various strategies, including:

  • Cold Compresses: Applying cloth-wrapped ice or cold packs immediately before & after your treatment can help reduce swelling. 15-20 minutes of icing at a time every 1-2 hours is generally a good routine, especially the first 3 days.
  • Chin Strap: Wearing a chin strap after your treatment can provide added compression, aiding in the healing process.
  • Antihistamines: Consider taking an over-the-counter antihistamine like Claritin or Zyrtec before & after your appointment to mitigate potential swelling.
  • Over-the-counter Medications: Over-the-counter pain medications such as Tylenol or Advil may help alleviate pain and swelling after the procedure. Tylenol is typically best for your first evening, with a transition to NSAIDs thereafter.
  • Gentle Massage: You can gently massage the treated area as tolerated. This can also aid in product distribution.

Taking it Easy: Adding an extra pillow under your head for the first few evenings can help ease swelling back into circulation. Avoiding strenuous exercise for 48-72 hours is also recommended.

If you experience post-Kybella treatment swelling, it’s advisable to postpone further injections until the symptoms subside. Normally, the swelling should resolve during the recommended one-month interval between treatments. However, if you still notice swelling just before your next scheduled session, be sure to inform your aesthetic provider.

Kybella Results and Timelines

While Kybella-induced swelling is a normal side effect, it can be uncomfortable. Fortunately, it’s temporary, with an overall recovery timeline of about 1 month, as per Allergan, the manufacturer of Kybella. This is why it’s advisable to wait at least 1 month between treatments.

Multiple Treatment Sessions

In most cases, multiple sessions are required, with 6 treatments being the maximum for Kybella. Your provider may recommend one injection per month over a six-month period. However, some individuals may need fewer treatments depending on their specific needs & anatomy.

When to Expect Results

According to Kybella’s manufacturer, each treatment session takes 15 to 20 minutes. Your provider will select several injection sites for Kybella administration, and this process is repeated one to three months later. Users typically notice visible effects after 12 weeks or at least two sessions, with maximum results becoming apparent after six months, and they are intended to be long-lasting.

Allowing Adequate Time Between Injections

Spacing Kybella injections apart is crucial. It allows the active ingredient to target submental fat effectively while giving your body the necessary time to heal between treatments. Getting too many injections too closely together could increase the risk of side effects, such as swelling.

FDA Approval: A Safe Choice

Kybella is the sole FDA-approved injectable treatment for the reduction of submental fat. Yet, it’s essential to be aware that FDA approval doesn’t make Kybella entirely risk-free.

Common and Uncommon Side Effects

Apart from swelling, Kybella may have other side effects that you should discuss with your doctor, including the possibility of infection. While infections are rare, they require prompt treatment. Swelling may be a potential sign of infection if it’s accompanied by additional symptoms like breaks in the skin barrier, drainage, or fever. However, swelling on its own doesn’t necessarily indicate infection. It’s crucial to closely monitor your condition for any changes in symptoms.

Common side effects of Kybella may include:

  • Swelling
  • Redness 
  • Numbness 
  • Itching 
  • Mild bruising 
  • Bleeding
  • Mild pain 
  • Hardened skin at the injection site 
  • Headache 
  • Nausea  

Contact your doctor if you experience more severe side effects such as an uneven smile, difficulty eating and swallowing, muscle weakness in the face, skin tissue damage (necrosis), hair loss at the injection site, severe bruising, ulcers, open sores with or without drainage, or infection. Always reach out to your provider if your swelling paradoxically worsens after the first 3-5 days post-procedure or if new or worsening side effects arise.

In summary, if you experience swelling following Kybella injections, rest assured that it’s a typical side effect and not usually a cause for medical concern. While it can be uncomfortable, this reaction is a sign that the deoxycholic acid is actively targeting fat cells under your chin. Your aesthetic can provide additional guidance on minimizing swelling during your recovery.

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