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Fat Removal without Surgery?

The use of phosphatidylcholine (Lipostabil®, Nattermann – Germany) through superficial injections to destroy adipocytes has recently become popular in Europe. It is injected directly into the subcutaneous fat through multiple injections, administered over multiple treatment sessions.

This treatment breaks down fat, which is then discharged over the liver and metabolized. It has been authorized for intravenous use to prevent and treat fat embolisms and liver diseases. Lipostabil® is currently only licensed as an intravenous medicine, for the prevention and treatment of blood vessel blockages by fat particles (fat embolism).

The concept is appealing. However, the use of this treatment to reduce subcutaneous fat must be critically analyzed in the scientific literature. The American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS) received FDA authorization to initiate a double-blind, placebo-controlled 46-week study to examine the safety and efficacy of these injections (also marketed as Flabjab™, Lipomelt, Liposdissolve and Fat-Away). Results are still pending.

Current concerns around injection lipolysis for subcutaneous fat include :

  • Lack of evidence-based scientific data
  • Technique in early stages and has not been evaluated for safety and reliability
  • No long-term results available
  • Not FDA approved for cosmetic treatment
  • Severe caution in patients with liver disease
  • Performed by non-physicians
  • Requires multiple treatments
  • Causes local inflammatory reaction, with possible hyperpigmentation or scarring

Injection lipolysis will not replace any traditional liposuction, but may be helpful in the future for very specific fat deposits in select individuals. It is not approved or licensed for cosmetic use. Product safety has not been established for subcutaneous use for cosmetic purposes. Consumers should be aware of this if offered the product.

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    Houtan Chaboki, M.D.