Health Team

Too Good to Be True: Are Fat-Dissolving Injections Safe?

Posted January 11, 2008 4:59 p.m. EST
Updated January 11, 2008 5:39 p.m. EST

— It's a shortcut to losing weight, but some medical experts want to know if LipoDissolve is a safe way to target trouble spots when exercise and diet fail to get rid of flab.

"It's not something that has been proven to be safe and effective," said cosmetic surgeon Dr. Michael Kane.

The controversial cosmetic procedure uses drug mixtures that are injected into patients to remove excess fat.

"We inject the medication or a series of medications that literally dissolve the fat cell," plastic surgeon Dr. Robert Pitera said.

The injections can cause temporary swelling and the average patient needs three to five visits over a six-week period.

Cheaper than liposuction, LipoDissolve can cost anywhere from $900 to $2,500, depending on how much fat a patient wants to remove.

It's not for the obese, Pitera said, but is mostly for getting rid of fat in problem areas, such as the stomach, thighs or obliques, without surgery.

"People want something that's safe," he said. "They want something that really has no down time."

How safe it is, however, is part of the debate among medical professionals. It's not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons warn patients against getting the shots.

A major study is planned to further examine the fat-dissolving treatments. Kane said that until the results are known, patients should think twice.