Current Trends in Management of Submental Liposis: A Pooled Analysis and Survey

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Since its approval by the US Food and Drug Administration for treatment of moderate to severe submental liposis in April 2015, deoxycholic acid (Kybella) has received significant media attention as a novel aesthetic treatment. Four phase 3 clinical trials have published data demonstrating the safety and efficacy of the drug compared with placebo; however, no study has juxtaposed the product with submental liposuction.


To evaluate the efficacy of injectable deoxycholic acid in the treatment of isolated submental liposis.

Evidence Review

A pooled analysis of the data from the 2 European and 2 North American phase 3 clinical trials was performed by grouping the study participants by treatment arm to analyze efficacy, adverse effects, and treatment variables. Members of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) were also surveyed regarding their clinical use of deoxycholic acid, fees, and adverse events.


The pooled analysis included 1738 unique patients (348 men [20.0%] and 1390 women [80.0%]; mean [SD] age, 47.7 [1.6] years) and revealed that all studies demonstrated efficacy compared with placebo. However, a significant number of patients experienced pain, edema, and numbness after injection. The clinical trial population was injected with a mean (SD) of 186.0 (106.6) mg of drug per patient during the course of treatment. A total of 102 members responded to the survey, representing 4% of AAFPRS membership. Based on the results of the survey, clinicians reported charging a mean (SD) of $691.04 ($168.68) per 20-mg vial of deoxycholic acid, resulting in a cost of $6426.35 per study participant. The survey revealed a mean (SD) total cost to the patient for submental liposuction to be $2976.56 ($1041.62).

Conclusions and Relevance

Although the clinical trials demonstrated functional drug efficacy, the large volume of drug used precluded cost-effectiveness. The survey found clinical practice to differ from the protocols used in the trials. Deoxycholic acid may be only fiscally efficacious for patients with mild to moderate submental liposis who require only 20 to 30 mg of drug per treatment for 3 treatment sessions.

Level of Evidence


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