Is this what your talking about?
People in the know are talking about the latest (alleged) miracle fat buster gaining popularity, and it’s called Lipostabil. Plug the word Lipostabil into any internet search engine and you’ll net hundreds of hits that match what is being touted as the injectable answer to liposuction. Then it hits you; nearly all of them are penned in a language other than English and originate outside of the United States. Why?
While those seeking a sleeker waistline, less of a double chin, or an end to saddlebags may be chatting up the promise of this fat dissolving elixir, the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t made a peep. In fact, they have yet to receive an application from the maker, Aventis, the gigantic French pharmaceutical company, for approval in the United States.
It is not that the drug itself hasn’t been approved overseas. Lipostabil is phosphatidylcholine, a liquid form of lecithin, an enzyme which occurs naturally in the body. It was first used in the 1950s to dial down climbing cholesterol and triglyceride numbers and is approved for use, according to the manufacturer, in Brazil, Germany, Italy and South America.
It took Brazilian dermatologist, Patricia Rittes, widely credited with pioneering the treatment often called Lipo-Dissolve, to reincarnate the drug as a pathway to physical perfection. After experimental use as an injectable fat-dissolver by doctors overseas such as Rittes, it started to make its way stateside. Thanks to some anecdotal evidence and off label usage, a few doctors in the United States are now injecting surgery-shy but eager patients in order to send their eye bags packing, whittle pudgy upper arms and reduce other areas often too small to treat with liposuction. You may remember that wrinkle busting Retin-A was only FDA approved as an acne treatment for years before it could claim its wrinkle reducing charms. However, doctors were prescribing it to their creased and lined, albeit unblemished, patients for years before it got the FDA stamp of approval. The same is true for Botox. Doctors found it helped reduce the appearance of wrinkles and used it for that off label purpose before it got the FDA go-ahead to claim it could tame wrinkles. But, Retin-A and Botox were FDA approved drugs. Lipostabil is not approved for any use in the United States. Aventis notes that they did not develop the drug for the popular use it’s currently gaining across the globe.
So, how does Lipostabil work? Depending on the area and the desired results, a patient gets injected with the drug at the trouble site or sites spaced over the course of several weeks. A topical anesthetic is used at the injection site. One may experience some side effects like mild swelling and bruising or itching at the injection site. Then the patient waits a couple of weeks and goes back in for another round of shots. After the treatments are over and the swelling subsides, one should find a new, fat free area in its wake thanks to the fat dissolving properties of the drug. Because no official protocols have been established, how many shots you need depends upon what your doctor advises. How much of the drug to use has been determined by trial and error.
You only need a couple of shots to get rid of that stubborn slab of abdominal flab? Sounds fuss free, and it is... sort of. The snag is that we don’t know more than we do know about this treatment. Random calls to dermatologists and other doctors didn’t net a single one who is currently using the drug, although several dermatologists and other doctors have gone on record in the media that they’re performing the treatment. What’s more, testing of the procedure has been limited to just one 30 person (non-peer reviewed, without a control group) study performed in Brazil testing how the drug worked on the small amounts of fat that make up under-eye bags. Photos from the study do show an improvement, but the results have not been duplicated nor scrutinized in other studies.
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery has gone so far as to issue a statement questioning the use of Lipostabil adding the only proven method to permanently remove fat deposits is liposuction. The ASAPS also questions how practitioners will evaluate how much fat is to be removed and raises the issues of whether the drug dissolves other tissue as well, how the body will react to the introduction of an increase in a naturally occurring substance and the potential unknown side effects.
For some, the unknown may be offset by what we do know and the promise of dissolving fat. Anecdotal evidence shows it can ditch an inch or more of fat off your waist, arms or thighs and flatten under eye bags or the chin "wattle." Lipostabil injections may also help with the curse of cellulite, the puckering orange-peel skin that plagues 9 out of 10 women. Some doctors are injecting the drug to dissolve this stubborn fat that often shows up on the back of thighs and the buttocks.
How much will the procedure cost you? Figure on $1,000 to $1,500 per session depending on the part of the body being treated (e.g.- the stomach will cost more than the arms). Also, don’t forget you’ll need several, as many as ten, sessions to get the desired results. Don´t expect to just lay out cash for a new physique. Lipostabil is best used for small areas, whereas liposuction can treat larger areas and remove more fat.
Karmen B. Saran