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What is Mesotherapy and How is it Being Used for Fat Loss?

The quest to acquire a svelte figure has led many to explore non-invasive fat removal procedures that are safe, effective, and fast. Lockdown or not, the ever-growing demand for new ways such as Mesotherapy and means of losing fat fast and painlessly still stands.

Some of the fat removal treatment options available on the market use technologies such as laser lipolysis and Cryolipolysis which have been proven to be safe and effective in spot reduction. In the never-ending quest to look for the next best fat removal solution, there has been one technique that has been quite the buzz lately.

Countries Banned Mesotherapy

More recently, the new minimally invasive technique, known as mesotherapy aka fat melting or dissolving injection, has courted controversy. Countries such as Singapore banned has banned the fat melting injection treatment. So, what exactly is mesotherapy, and why is it so controversial?

Origins of Mesotherapy for Fat Removal

Developed from observations of a French physician in the 1950s, mesotherapy is defined as the fat dissolving injection of substances locally into the mesoderm (the layer of fat and connective tissues under the skin)1.

The technique uses very fine needles to administer a series of intradermal injections to diminish cellulite and fat. Targeted areas are administered small doses of certain compounds.

The prefix ‘meso’ is derived from the skin’s meso or subcutaneous layer, where the fat-dissolving compounds are injected. The compounds used in mesotherapy fat melting injections are variable mixtures of natural plant extracts, homeopathic agents, pharmaceuticals, vitamins, and other bioactive substances2.

While the application of fat dissolving injection has been gaining popularity in the cosmetic field as purported rejuvenating and “fat-dissolving” injections, the safety and efficacy of the treatment remain ambiguous, making mesotherapy vulnerable to criticism.

Mesotherapy Treatment for Cosmetic Purposes

In mesotherapy, fat dissolving injections are administered superficially to specific areas with fat deposits. Typically, fat removing or melting injections are used on the face, to reduce eye bags. The fat melting treatment is used at the neck to address submental fat conditions such as double chin and aging neck.

Mesotherapy claimed to have a wide array of applications, especially in the field of cosmetic dermatology. However, the only current and widely practiced indications in the field of dermatology are as follows:

 

1. Body cellulite, fat removal, body contouring

 

2. Skin rejuvenation/glow, lift, pigmentation

 

3. Hair treatment – androgenetic alopecia3

Substances Used in Mesotherapy Injections

In principle, mesotherapy mentions medications of any kind – allopathic, homeopathic.  Even natural substances such as vitamins, hormones, and plant extracts are included in the list. There are no standardizations in place for the medicinal substances or compounds to be used. Therefore the substances and combinations thereof can vary from practitioner to practitioner.

There are a few substances that have been known to cause the death of fat cells commonly used in this injection treatment. However, there simply isn’t a standard prescription or list of substances that are recommended for injection in mesotherapy

Phosphatidylcholine

Phosphatidylcholine, originally known as lecithin, is the primary active ingredient contained in cosmetic injection products used to “dissolve” fat. It is a naturally occurring substance in the human body. Phosphatidylcholine has been known to break down lipids in the body. However, there are insufficient published data to confirm this theory3.

Deoxycholic acid (DCA)

Kybella®, also marketed as BELKYRA®, is a minimally invasive injectable technique used for fat reduction. It received approval from the US FDA in 2015, for use in fat reduction mesotherapy. However, the safe and effective use of Kybella® outside of the submental region has yet to be established.

Lack of evidence on efficacy of Mesotherapy Treatments for fat removal

Despite the growing interest in mesotherapy, supporting scientific evidence is lacking. Furthermore, there is a paucity of randomized controlled trials4. Plachouri et al. have examined the efficacy of mesotherapy in the medical and cosmetic field. It is concluded the need for larger systematic studies5. Hence, raising a question mark on using mesotherapy for fat reduction purposes.

At present, there are no scientific studies or data available to support the efficacy and safety of the technique. Neither are the compounds used in treatment. Without regulations and standard protocols in place, the practice of mesotherapy, unscrupulous practitioners administering dubious and untested compounds have given rise to safety concerns in several quarters.

Why Singapore Banned Mesotherapy?

In Singapore, the Ministry of Health ruled in 2015 that such procedures and others grouped under mesotherapy and carboxytherapy lacked scientific merit. Hence, they are disapproved locally. Additionally, the dosage and protocol of these chemical mixtures are not fixed nor are they regulated. Therefore, they cannot be predicted as to how they will work or what side effects they will have.

Therefore, the use of mesotherapy for fat reduction enjoys no official and legal sanction in many countries.

Safety Must Be Your Priority

While the jury is still out on the suitability of mesotherapy as a safe and effective fat reduction procedure, the fact remains that nothing is worth risking your safety over. Especially in the name of beauty. It is important to not only consider the results of a certain treatment before all else but also to take into consideration all these factors when choosing the right treatment for yourself.

References:

1. Kento Takaya, Naruhito Matsuda, Toru Asou, Kazuo Kishi, Brown preadipocyte transplantation locally ameliorates obesity, Archives of Plastic Surgery, 10.5999/aps.2020.02257, 48, 4, (440-447), (2021) 2. Atiyeh, B.S., Ibrahim, A.E. & Dibo, S.A. Cosmetic Mesotherapy: Between Scientific Evidence, Science Fiction, and Lucrative Business. Aesth Plast Surg 32, 842–849 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00266-008-9195-x 3. https://cdn.mdedge.com/files/s3fs-public/Document/September-2017/019060416.pdf 4.  https://www.medicaljournals.se/jrm/content/html/10.2340/16501977-2817 5. Plachouri K M, Georgiou S. Mesotherapy: safety profile and management of complications. J Cosmet Dermatol 2019; 18: 1601-160 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/jocd.13115 6. Konda D, Thappa DM. Mesotherapy: What is new?. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2013;79:127-34.