What Is the Deal With Mesotherapy?

As far as I am concerned, mesotherapy (injecting a liquid material into the body in order to cause something to dissolve) is the latest "snake oil" licensed and unlicensed practitioners are using to take advantage of our naïve, beauty craving American public.

Known as "Lipo-dissolve" or "Lipo-stabil," mesotherapy involves a series of injections into fatty areas that supposedly makes the fat disappear. It can be performed in a dermatologist's or plastic surgeon's office, but more commonly it is performed at a spa, and not by a dermatologist or plastic surgeon. Mesotherapy has been outlawed in Brazil, especially after it was discovered so many gyms and spas were using it in a completely unregulated fashion. Mesotherapy liquids for fat destruction are not approved by the FDA, and are not manufactured in a controlled setting.

These products can be put together at any compounding pharmacy, so there can be tremendous variation in what is made from one pharmacy to the next. Once made, the person injecting the mesotherapy liquid places it in the fatty area that a person wants dissolved. Usually, a series of injections is done on one focal area of fat over an interval of months. If an individual wants to destroy a larger area of fat, multiple injections are required over multiple visits, often with a "mesotherapy gun." A recent Washington Post article described one person who underwent 120 injections per visit to help destroy fat in the abdomen.

In contrast, with a procedure such as tumescent liposuction, fat can be safely removed from an area (such as the abdomen) while the patient is awake alert, and without pain. Local anesthesia is placed to numb the area to be treated, so the fat can be painlessly removed, just as it would with traditional liposuction when a person is put under general anesthesia. With tumescent liposuction, fat is removed from the body, rather than being left to die on its own inside the body (as in mesotherapy).

The American public demands the FDA scrutinize and rescrutinize every medication it approves for any possible risks and dangers. So, why does this same public so often seek unproven, unregulated,and unscrutinized therapies that have no FDA involvement or approval and where inherent risks and dangers aren't known? Especially when at the same time safer, easier, and less painful alternatives such as tumescent liposuction are already available right now.

8/1/2007 7:00:00 AM
Dr. Lawrence J. Green
Dr. Green’s goal is to provide safe, effective therapies and/or minimally invasive procedures that help patients continue to look and feel their best. His approach is to remain at the cutting edge, but never compromise on patient safety. To this effect, Dr. Green believes that only board-certified physicians with appropr...
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Thank you for your comment. I definitely feel that tumescent liposuction (liposuction performed while you are awake under local anesthesia) is the least painful and has the quickest recovery too. I'm glad you are willing to share your experience. -Lawrence Green
Posted by Dr. Lawrence J. Green
I've had A LOT of liposuction with mixed results over the years, including the first procedure that was performed while I was awake. For the most part, I am very happy with the results, it just takes a while to heal. I'm still recovering from my stomach and hips (I'm four months post-op). Aside from the pain (big ouchies), I think it was the best choice for me. I think lipo is great. It would be nice if they could perfect a technique that requires less invasive (painful) procedures tho. Did I mention that it hurts?? But if any one is planning on getting it, I'd be happy to fill them in on ALL the details.
Posted by Lisa
Ben-Liposuction should be thought of as something to do in addition to exercise-for body contouring to help lessen a large area of fat you can't get rid of with exercise alone. Don't get me wrong, liposuction is not perfect, and an idealized, buffed appearance outcome is seen only in the movies. But, liposuction does accomplish removal of fat like nothing else can, especially compared with mesotherapy. On the other hand, the lipolaser is liposuction, but instead of the doctor working hard to remove the fat, the laser burns it out from the inside-lessening the doctor's work. Again, I worry about using a machine to burn the fat inside without seeing or feeling the fat go away. Jenny- Actually, just the opposite. The profit margin on mesotherapy and lipolaser is so much larger than tumescent liposuction. One liposuction procedure takes any where from 3-6 hours, while mesotherapy takes less than 10 minutes-to an hour (depending on how many injections you get), and the lipolaser is also quicker with much less work for the doctor involved. If I were interested in the $$, I would be doing mesotherapy or lipolaser. Ben- I have kept up on research with different techniques, and this is why I choose to use liposuction over the other, newer treatments... what will be safest for my patients is overall what is best for my practice.
Posted by Dr. Lawrence J. Green
Amac, in response to your question, the lipolaser is an interesting concept. I know many laser dermatologists who believe that it will be popular. But, call me old fashioned.... I personally like to perform liposuction knowing how much fat I have removed from somebody. I think people who have liposuction done should know how much has been removed. Also, how do you know you are burning only fat when the lipolaser is used? I would also be worried about the risk of burning something other than fat. But, we'll see..unlike with mesotherapy, at least the lipolaser is getting some clinical trials done that can give us information for the future. Lawrence J Green, MD
Posted by Dr. Lawrence J. Green
Interesting info, Dr. Green. John, I have also heard of this "Lipo Laser" product by Meridian. It's a new technology that liquifies adipose cells using low level light therapy. Then the contents of the fat cells ooze out, are absorbed by the lymphatic system, and then are excreted through normal means such as urination. They claim that their clinical trial went well and they are about to get FDA approval for it to be used for spot fat reduction. What are your thoughts about it? I'm guessing you'll be skeptical as I am. There are some interesting studies on LLLT and adipose (fat) cells that I found on <url removed> that suggest it might actually work though. I don't understand the mechanism though. Amac
Posted by Aaron M

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