Everyone has seen advertisements for products and devices that claim to instantly melt your fat away. Now, there is a procedure called Lipodissolve that claims to do just that without plastic surgery. Thanks in part to popstar Britney Spears who allegedly had various Lipodissolve sessions recently, the procedure has been gaining wide interest from people hoping for a miracle fat burning solution without going under the knife. But while everyone from doctors, nurses, surgery centers, spas are jumping in to offer the treatment, Lipodissolve is still largely untested and it remains to be seen whether it can replace traditional liposuction techniques for fat removal.
Lipodissolve (also know as Lipolysis, Lipotherapy, Lipo-dissolve, Lipostabil, ThinJection, and Flab Jab), is a controversial procedure in which drug mixtures are injected into patients to destroy fat cells, which then leave the body along with normal waste removal. Similar in concept to mesotherapy, Lipodissolve claims to remove excess fat in localized areas of the body. Fat deposits that are resistant to exercise and diet, such as the abdomen, hips, thighs, face, and back, are often the primary concerns of those patients seeking this procedure. While some patients may lose up to three inches in circumference, results vary from patient to patient. The drug mixtures used in the procedure, which have yet to be approved by the FDA, are delivered through multiple microinjections into subcutaneous fat. These injections take place over one to three treatment sessions, which are each four to six weeks apart.
According to 2005 Aesthetic Society Cosmetic Surgery Statistics, Lipodissolve was performed on 4,773 Americans in 2004. It may cost anywhere from $1,000 to $1,500 per treatment with three to six treatments required. This can prove costly for patients who may not receive the desired results.
Some of the risks and potential complications associated with Lipodissolve treatments include headaches, nausea, diaharrea; as well as blisters, necrosis (death of the skin) and scarring at the injection site.
There has been speculation that Britney Spears had Lipodissolve done in
Dr. Robert Adrian, a leading cosmetic dermatologist in
Many in the medical community, however, believe the risks of Lipodissolve outweigh the benefits. There is no precise established protocol and the depth of injection, amount of medication delivered per injection, and the treatment intervals vary based on the condition that the procedure is directed towards. The procedure often involves injections of unknown substances. Solutions have included prescription medications, hormones, isoproterenol, enzymes, herbal extracts, vitamins, and minerals. One of the ingredients most consistently used in these fat reduction treatments is a soybean lecithin extract phosphatidylcholine or “Lipostabil®” (Aventis, Sanofi-Aventis Group;
Critics of Lipodissolve often compare it to mesotherapy, with some doctors claiming that lipodissolve is just another tradename for mesotherapy.
Board-certified plastic surgeons such as Dr. Anthony Youn are skeptical of fat melting injections and have not been impressed by the results of mesotherapy from patients who had these procedures done, often by non-board certified doctors. “There are a couple physicians who perform mesotherapy in my area, although none of them are board-certified plastic surgeons. The one who does the most is an ER physician who is a member of the
In 2003, Lipostabil, an ingredient found in fat injection cocktails such as mesotherapy and Lipodissolve was banned in
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery has issued warnings about injection fat loss treatments such as lipodissolve and mesotherapy. They caution that, despite the rising popularity of the procedure, there is a lack of available data on it. Currently, there are no controlled studies that establish its safety and efficacy.
Similarly, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) posted an article entitled “Lipodissolve Treatments Need Regulation, More Study” on April 21st, 2006. In this article, Dr. Mark Jewell, the then-current President of ASAPS, states, “currently we cannot endorse the injection of phosphatidylcholine, sodium deoxycholate, or any other drugs, vitamins, plant extracts or hormones into subcutaneous fat as practiced in mesotherapy/Lipodissolve treatments because we don’t have enough clinical data or FDA approval to support their use.”
Dr. Jewell went on to say, “patients seeking fat dissolving treatments should be educated about the lack of clinical data to support these treatments and cautioned to wait until there is reliable information to guide their decision. Patients should also be warned about seeking treatments from people who may not be qualified to administer the large numbers of injections, which require very precise placement.”
Several medical associations have issued health warnings that caution against the use of Lipodissolve, including the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS), and the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS).
In June 2007, the FDA stated that they were investigating those organizations that were marketing and/or distributing Lipodissolve. They announced that they do not approve of the procedure, as its safety is unknown. In 2003, the FDA sent a letter to a physician involved in the unlawful marketing and distribution of Lipodissolve. In the letter, they ordered the physician to “immediately cease marketing and distributing this product.”
Likewise, the website for the American Society of Plastic Surgeons posted an article entitled “Mesotherapy Not Proven As A Safe Alternative to Liposuction: Plastic Surgeons Caution Against Unknown Dangers,” which stated, “the allure of shedding unwanted pockets of fat with a series of simple injections, known as mesotherapy, sounds too good to be true – and it just might be. According to an ASPS Device & Technique Assessment (DATA) Committee report published in the April 15 issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (PRS), the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), patients should be wary of mesotherapy until the safety and effectiveness of the procedure are confirmed.”
Dr. Alan Matarasso, co-author of the study, stated that the problem is that “the whole technique is shrouded in mystery. Liposuction remains the only proven method to safely and permanently remove fat.”
In their article “Lipodissolve for Subcutaneous Fat Reduction and Skin Retraction,” Drs. Diane Irvine Duncan and Franz Hasengschwandtner give the other side of the argument regarding Lipodissolve, explaining “Lipodissolve injections will not replace traditional lipoplasty techniques, but are an excellent adjunct or alternative for those patients seeking minimally invasive treatment.” However, it is important to note that even these doctors, who are in favor of Lipodissolve, add that, “successful outcomes are highly dependent on the correct formula and injection technique, as well as proper patient selection.”
Overall, there are no published scientific studies demonstrating if the effects of Lipodissolve are permanent, how the ingredients of the cocktail work to melt fat, or how safe the procedure is for patients.
And again, there is no standardization for the formula used in Lipodissolve. The types of drugs used during the procedure vary from physician to physician as does the quantity and frequency of injections. Critics say that the formulas are prepared by pharmacies without any regulation and little quality control, which can be adverse to patients.
All in all, the excitement aroused by the thought of a miracle fat burning injection may be premature, as the public may have to wait longer to see if Lipodissolve or Mesotherapy will live up to being the safe and effective miracle fix that all of us are after.
Tags: celebrity, plastic, surgery