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How Long Does Kybella Last

by Lyndon Langley
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How Long Does Kybella Last

How Long Does Kybella Last

When the FDA first approved it in 2015, Kybella was touted as a cure for fat that would last your entire life — because you’d never have to worry about gaining weight ever again. But how long does Kybella actually work? How often do you need treatments? And what happens if you don’t like them? We spoke with Dr. Michael Eisenberg, director of the Center for Clinical Investigation at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco, who has been treating patients with Kybella since its approval. Here’s what he says you should know about this controversial procedure.
First off, let’s start with some basics. What exactly is Kybella? It’s an injectable drug made by Seattle-based biotech company Allergan (which also makes Botox). In 2016, Allergan reported that it had already received U.S. Food Drug Administration (FDA) clearance for Kybella. The treatment blocks a protein called CRLM1 from producing a certain signal inside nerve cells that causes excessive fat accumulation. This reduces the amount of fat cells throughout the body.
How much does it cost? Kybella costs $5,000 per session — which is quite expensive compared to other noninvasive procedures such as liposuction. However, the upside is that the procedure only requires one visit. Patients typically return every 4 months for follow-up appointments. If they’re not happy with their results after 12 weeks, they’ll get another 6 monthly injections. They may experience side effects including bruising, pain during treatment, dry eyes, and swelling. Most people see significant improvements within two months, but maximum results take up to six months.

What conditions can it treat? Kybella is primarily used to combat excess facial fat caused by genetics, hormones, medications, and trauma. Because of its high price, many insurance companies consider Kybella “off label” meaning there aren’t specific guidelines on when it should be prescribed. That said, Eisenberg told us that most people who’ve undergone the procedure say it works best for those looking to reduce the appearance of large cheekbones and jowls. Other potential candidates include individuals with severe acne scarring, moderate to severe underarm fat deposits, and excess fat below the chin. Kybella isn’t recommended for women who want to lose weight, however, due to the fact that we naturally produce more estrogen than men, which could potentially counteract the effect of the medication. For example, if someone wants to lose 20 pounds, they might want to look into other methods.
Is it covered by insurance? Yes. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 80 percent of Americans have health insurance coverage through an employer plan, government program, or private insurance. Unfortunately, many insurers won’t cover cosmetic procedures unless they’re medically necessary. So before you schedule an appointment, make sure you talk to your doctor about whether this qualifies as a medical necessity. Otherwise, you might end up paying out of pocket.
Can I try it out myself? Yes. Although Kybella is mainly administered by doctors, patients are allowed to administer the medication themselves. You just have to use care while doing so. After all, it’s highly concentrated medicine. One way to do this is to mix it with liquid hand sanitizer and apply it using a cotton ball. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly afterward.
Does it hurt? As mentioned earlier, the majority of patients will experience mild side effects. Some possible symptoms include temporary redness, itchiness, tenderness, swelling, bruising, inflammation, crusting, dry eye, and headache. More serious complications are rare, but if you notice any unusual changes in your skin coloration, vision problems, chest pain, trouble breathing, blood clots, or persistent infection, seek emergency attention immediately.

What happens next? Once your initial appointment is over, you’ll receive a call back from a nurse practitioner who specializes in Kybella. She’ll ask you questions about your medical history, current medications, and family history. Then she’ll determine whether you qualify for the procedure based on her findings. If you do, you’ll schedule another appointment once you receive the prescription. During the second visit, she’ll give you instructions on how to prepare yourself for treatment. A few days later, you’ll meet with your physician who will go over the risks associated with the procedure. He or she will also discuss the benefits and alternatives to Kybella. Finally, you’ll sign paperwork confirming that you understand everything going on with the treatment.
If you decide you still want to proceed, your physician will explain the steps involved in the actual procedure. He or she will review the results of lab tests, scans, and x-rays beforehand. Afterwards, you’ll get to pick between two different options: Kybella Classic and Kybella Next Step. Both versions involve injections directly into the face, neck, and upper arms. The main difference is that the classic version uses higher doses, whereas the latter offers lower doses. These factors affect both the number of visits required and the overall price tag. To find out which option is right for you, speak with your doctor or dermatologist.
The average person should expect to spend roughly 30 minutes receiving each injection, according to Eisenberg. Your physician will also perform minor surgery beforehand. First, he’ll trim down the area around the injection site so that the needle doesn’t pass through sensitive tissue. Second, he’ll shave the hair surrounding the injections. Lastly, he’ll place small sutures at strategic points along the incision line. When finished, he’ll cleanse the area and close the wound using dissolving stitches.
Afterwards, you’ll spend time recuperating at home. Some patients even opt to skip the gym altogether. It’s important to note that Kybella shouldn’t be used by anyone who has issues with allergies. People with diabetes should consult their physicians before undergoing treatment, too. And remember, this isn’t something you want to attempt without consulting a professional.

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