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Why “Smart Lipo” Isn’t Smart

By: Aarti Patel Email By: Aarti Patel
August 2010
Why “Smart Lipo” Isn’t Smart

Have you looked in the mirror lately and been disappointed? Maybe at your double chin, or the fat around your inner thighs? Or even your love handles? You must have seen advertisements for “Smart Lipo”—a procedure that dissolves fat with convincing before and after pictures? And somewhere in the back of your mind, you might even have considered this procedure.

Lipodissolve, also known as injection lipolysis, lipotherapy or mesotherapy (not to be confused with liposuction, which is the surgical removal of fat cells) is a procedure that was developed in France in the 1950s. It involves a series of injections given at the ‘fat’ site intended to eliminate and dissolve fat pockets from different parts of the body, such as the abdomen, thighs, arms, chin, etc. Two drugs routinely used in the lipodissolve injection are phosphatidylcholine and deoxycholate. Even though phosphtidylcholine is approved by the FDA as a drug to break down blood fats that increase the risk of heart disease, it is not approved as a drug for injection lypolysis. Other ingredients such as vitamins, antibiotics, herbal extracts and minerals may also be used.

Lipodissolve is performed in a series of six to eight or more treatments, each costing anywhere from $300 to $1,000 and maybe more, depending on the area of the body. Some people have claimed to have gotten good results from this treatment; however, others have suffered complications. With limited research available about this costly procedure, and controversy surrounding it, the Food and Drug Administration is advising consumers about false and misleading claims being made about products used in lipodissolve injections, and about other misbranding of these products.

The FDA is alerting consumers that:

In addition, the FDA has reports of unexpected side-effects in people who’ve undergone the lipodissolve procedure. These side-effects include:

With this procedure, there are also several unanswered questions: What happens to the fat once it’s treated? Do the treated areas get ‘fat’ again? Does the body absorb the fat or is it excreted? Are there any long-term health issues arising from this procedure? The fact is that since there is very limited research available on this procedure, the answers are still unknown. In fact, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, “Patients are advised to avoid these procedures, which are commonly known as lipolysis, mesotherapy or the brand names Lipodissolve and Lipodstabil. Although marketed as fat loss treatments, these procedures are scientifically unproven, lacking any objective data on safety and efficacy. In addition, none of these procedures has received FDA approval, with the ingredients poorly defined. The procedures may also be offered by persons without sufficient medical training, thereby putting patients at risk of harm.”

The American Society for Plastic Surgeons and the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery have also issued similar health warnings and concerns about the use of injection lipolysis. Finally, in April of this year, the FDA issued warning letters to six ‘medical spas’ in the U.S. for false and misleading claims. So now that you know some facts, make a smart decision about “Smart Lipo”!

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