Deoxycholic acid in the submental fat reduction: A review of properties, adverse effects, and complications

J Cosmet Dermatol. 2020 Oct;19(10):2497-2504. doi: 10.1111/jocd.13619. Epub 2020 Jul 29.


Background: Deoxycholic acid (DCA) was developed by the pharmaceutical industry for aesthetical use in submental fat reduction. It represents the first lipolytic substance approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for fat reduction in that area.

Aims: This study presents an update of properties and the use of DCA, as well as adverse events and possible complications.

Methods: A search in MEDLINE/PubMed, Cochrane, and Bireme/LILACS databases was performed using the terms: "deoxycholic acid" OR "ATX-101" AND "injection" NOT "amphotericin" NOT "biliary" NOT "bile." Experimental studies developed in animals, clinical trials, literature reviews, case reports, and letters to the editor that included the DCA mechanism of action, dose, manner of use, adverse effects, and complications were selected.

Results: The most frequent adverse events are edema, local pain, bruise, and numbness, which usually spontaneously regress. However, complications, including, skin necrosis, nerve injury, alopecia, and vascular events, can occur, demanding complex management without specific protocols.

Conclusion: Although DCA is beneficial for lysis of adipose tissue, clinicians should be aware about the adverse effects and risks involved with the use of this substance. The knowledge of local anatomy, properties, and adverse effects are fundamental to treatment with DCA.

Keywords: adipose tissue; adverse effects; deoxycholic acid; submental fat.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue
  • Animals
  • Cosmetic Techniques* / adverse effects
  • Deoxycholic Acid* / adverse effects
  • Injections
  • Lipolysis


  • Deoxycholic Acid