New injection that dissolves double-chin fat gets US approval

Copyright: Kythera Pharmaceuticals

Copyright: Kythera Pharmaceuticals

An injection that melts away excess fat under the chin has been given approval in the US. The drug is called Kybella, and is designed for ‘adults with moderate-to-severe fat below the chin, known as submental fat’.

Typically, people who had double chins or large amounts of excess fat under their chin would have to undergo surgery to have it removed.

What is the most common method to have excess fat under the chin removed?

The most common method to have chin fat removed would be liposuction under the chin, the same way that excess fat is removed from other parts of the body. During this method, a thin tube (cannula) is inserted into the area and the fat is broken up and removed.

There are risks with liposuction however; the cannula can pierce an internal organ, there is a chance of infection, and the patient can suffer an allergic reaction.

How does the new injection to remove excess fat under the chin work?

Using the new injection to melt away fat deposits, there is no longer a need for intrusive surgery.

The drug is called ATX-101 and is a synthetic form of deoxycholic acid, a compound that the body produces naturally. This compounds works to absorb fats by breaking down the fat cell membrane.

The latest clinical trials using ATX-101 shows that the area under the chin has been contoured by destroying fat cells, whilst the surrounding tissue has been left largely unaffected.

After the fat cells have been destroyed, there is a natural healing response in which the dead cells are cleared away.

Copyright: Kythera Pharmaceuticals

Copyright: Kythera Pharmaceuticals

What are the side effects of the new chin-fat reducing injection?

The manufacturer of Kybella have recorded some common side effects of:

  • pain in the chin
  • numbness
  • bruising
  • swelling
  • redness
  • firmness
  • itching
  • a burning or prickling sensation
  • nodules

Kythera noted that these side effects were ‘temporary’ and mild-to-moderate in severity, however, it was recorded that in previous studies, 13 per cent of participants dropped out of the clinical trial because of these very side effects.

The Food and Drug Administration approves Kybella

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a statement that read: ‘Kybella is administered as an injection into the fat tissue in the submental area.

‘Patients may receive up to 50 injections in a single treatment, with up to six single treatments administered no less than one month apart.’

Kybella is manufactured by Californian company Kythera Biopharmaceuticals, and this is their first FDA approved drug.  The FDA made several provisos regarding Kybella; they stated that although the drug destroyed fat cells, it also damaged skin cells so care should be paid when injecting.

They also advised that Kybella should only be used for the fat under the chin, which is known as submental fat. Use on fat outside the submental area was not advised.

It is thought that Kybella should be available by the second half of 2015, and the company has already filed for marketing approval in Australia, Canada and Switzerland. and wants to market the drug in other countries.