Have you heard of something called Lipodissolve? It is being hailed as the newest alternative to liposuction, which is certainly more costly and invasive. However, does Lipodissolve really work? And, are there any side effects?
Lipodissolve is one of the newest treatments available for reduction of body fat and loose skin. Like liposuction, the objective of Lipodissolve is the permanent elimination of fat cells. Unlike liposuction, Lipodissolve is a minimally invasive procedure, consisting of a series of injections rather than the cutting and scraping of subcutaneous fat.
There is currently no FDA approval of Lipodissolve, unlike the approval of liposuction. Some issues have arisen regarding both the safety and efficacy of this treatment.
Lipodissolve was first developed in Austria in 2002. There, it was discovered that if one injected a substance called phosphatidylcholine (PPC) into fat (or other) cells, those cells underwent cell lysis and death. Later studies showed that PPC, when mixed with sodium deoxycholate, became soluble and could be injected subcutaneously.
This sparked a whole industry of plastic and cosmetic centers in the USA offering Lipodissolve as a way to get rid of trouble fat spots on the face, arms, legs, and stomach.
Many people have reported amazing changes in their physique following the injections. Others have been disappointed, stating that they wasted their money. Still others have suffered from unexpected side effects like lumpy fat patches, bruising, pain, and swelling that spanned over a course of months.
A report published in Aesthetic Surgery Journal in 2005 announced that an experimental trial undertaken on 43 patients had resulted in dramatic reduction of fat deposits for 13 of those patients, with 29 patients seeing mild to moderate improvement. Still, 13% of those patients reported that their improvement was far less than they had hoped for. There were also reports of bruising, itching, burning, and swelling when higher doses of the drugs were used.
What the authors of this report concluded was that the best results for Lipodissolve were achieved when the candidates are not obese and have local patches of soft fat tissue that are resistant to proper diet and exercise. The skill of the practitioner also plays a role, and injections must be made at proper depths in order to target only fat and not muscle or skin. Injections must also be made following a tight 1 centimeter grid pattern, or a 1.5 centimeter grid pattern for larger surface areas.
The results sound promising, at least given the above report. However, when one starts reading patient reviews of the procedure, one finds much dissatisfaction. At an online site called RealSelf, only 37% of the respondents on that site reported that they were satisfied with Lipodissolve. 63% of the respondents reported that they had either been in tremendous, pain, had not seen the results they were promised, or both. Some respondents reports ugly side effects like fat lumps along the treated area which were painful to the touch.
The list of other side effects can be quite extensive, at least according to a report compiled by the Mayo Clinic and discussed on the Clinic’s Web site. There may be bacterial infection, granulomas (masses of inflamed tissue), necrosis (death of muscle or skin tissue), allergic reactions, skin ulcerations, and scarring.
Lipodissolve may be more cost-effective than liposuction, but the injections are still not cheap. For injections to the stomach, the cost will run from $300-$800. For thighs, the cost is $300-$700. Arms are $300-$600, the back is $300-$800, the chin is $300-$500, and injections under the eyes are $150-$400 (prices quoted from DocShop.com). As with all aesthetic treatments, lipodissolve is not covered by health insurance.
So, what is the bottom line for Lipodissolve? While it does appear that the treatment works to reduce localized pockets of fat in non-obese individuals, enough data have not yet been generated regarding the treatment’s safety and long-term effects. If you are interested in trying this procedure, you are strongly advised to do your research, find a qualified physician who can perform the treatment, and understand that the technique is best suited for small to medium reductions of localized fat.
Lipodissolve for Subcutaneous Fat Reduction and Skin Retraction. (2005) Aesthetic Surg. J. 25:530-543.
Lipodissolve Reviews http://www.realself.com/Lipodissolve/reviews
Lipodissolve: Does It Get Rid of Unwanted Fat? http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/lipodissolve/AN01670