Skip to main content
Saint Louis University Menu Search

Look Good, Feel Good: SLUCare Cosmetic Dermatology


Pictured above: Dr. Natalie Semchyshyn and patientPictured above: Dr. Natalie Semchyshyn and patient

SLUCare specialist uses new procedure to reduce appearance of chin and neck fat

Because people are living longer and working longer, they want the way they look to match the way they feel. "Back in the old days," says Dr. Natalie Semchyshyn, SLUCare Physician Group cosmetic dermatologist, "surgery was the only option for looking younger, but now, ‘small' treatments like Kybella are making a big difference. It's very exciting."

When it comes to an aging face, says Semchyshyn, it's about balance: "The cheeks sag, the skin at the eyes and temples thins, the chin comes out." But Semchyshyn says by addressing issues like a double — or triple — chin, balance can be restored for youthful results. Kybella, she says, is proving particularly effective for neck fat, and may have implications for fat in other areas of the body in the future.

If a person gains a large amount of weight after the procedure, they would gain it in another part of the body.”

Kybella, which was FDA-approved in 2015, is a lab-manufactured version of deoxycholic acid — a naturally occurring substance in the body that aids in the breakdown and absorption of fat cells. Semchyshyn says it is administered by injection and two to four treatments are typically performed two months apart. She explains that once destroyed, fat cells can't reform. "If a person gains a large amount of weight after the procedure, they would gain it in another part of the body," she says.

Semchyshyn, who participated in FDA testing, calls the procedure "remarkably safe," and says it has minimal side effects. She cites swelling, soreness and numbness as usual reactions, and recommends that patients lessen bruising by avoiding blood-thinning compounds like aspirin, fish oils and vitamin E. In the worst case, she says a patient might experience nerve damage, which could result in an asymmetrical smile. But she says this condition is rare and completely reversible. 

The treatments, which Semchyshyn says take little more than 15 minutes, involve Town & Style Cover: Dr. Natalie Semchyshynmapping the area of chin fat with a grid of dots one centimeter apart, being careful to avoid the nerves that run along the jawline. "We calculate the number of injections based on the number of dots," she explains.

Depending on the size of the area, a person might need between one and three vials of deoxycholic acid. Semchyshyn is quick to note that the Kybella needle is very small and treatment proceeds quickly. "Patients may experience an intense feeling of warmth caused by the destruction of fat cells," she says, "but ice packs help to alleviate the sensation."

Semchyshyn says in some cases, improvement may be visible after the first treatment, however most people see significant results after the second treatment. "In a younger person, the neck goes right back," she says. "But an older person with skin laxity may notice a slight increase in sagginess." Most people, however, are happy just to have the fat gone, she adds.

For additional information about Kybella and other cosmetic procedures, contact SLUCare Cosmetic Dermatology, 2315 Dougherty Ferry Road, (314) 977-9666.

This article originally appeared in Town & Style

By Alexa Beattie