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  • Writer's pictureJoelle Touchette

What is Deoxycholic Acid?

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

What is it?

A bile acid naturally found in our body, which breaks down and absorbs fats in our diets. The synthetic form is approved by Health Canada to help the appearance of moderate to severe fullness associated with submental fat (double chin). Although liposuction is the gold standard treatment, this procedure is safer and less invasive.

How does it work?

The man-made form of deoxycholic acid (brand name: Kybella or Belkyra) works by destroying fat cell membranes where it is injected into the body. Once it destroys the fat cells, the results should be lasting, and further treatments are not required as the fat cells can no longer store fat.

Other than the chin, where else can it be used?

It can be used “off label” to the bra strap area/ “double boob” and the “love handles”. Keep in mind these are larger areas that require more sessions.

Who isn’t a good candidate for this treatment?

· Those with an infection in or around the area to be treated

· Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding (due to insufficient safety data)

· Those with excessive skin laxity (fullness due to extra skin, not fat)

· Those with swollen lymph nodes around neck

· Those with a bleeding or blood clotting disorder

What can I expect during my appointment?

First, an assessment of your neck and a discussion regarding your treatment options and goals is done with your provider. Then, a topical numbing cream is applied to the area for 15-20 minutes. Lastly the deoxycholic acid is injected with a small needle under the skin.

How many appointments will I need to see results?

This depends on the individual’s submental distribution and treatment goal. Most people have visible results in 2 to 4 sessions. Other people require up to 6 sessions in order to be effective. Each treatment session should be spaced no less than one month apart.

What do the studies show?

In a randomized trial of 390 patients, 12 weeks after four treatments, 65–70% of patients treated with deoxycholic acid were satisfied with the appearance of their face and chin compared with 30% who had received injections of inert saline (placebo).

What are the common side effects?

· 5-14 days of swelling (some people experience for 4-6 weeks)

· Numbness or hardening of the treated area

· Hair loss around treated area

· Pain, redness, or bruising of the treated area


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