By: Dr. John Tang, M.D. of Rejuve in Saratoga, CA
Have you ever looked in the mirror and said to yourself, " How am I ever going to get rid of these love handles or that double chin?" A lot of us have wondered and raised our hands in dismay. We try to eat sensibly and exercise 3-4 times per week, but the status quo lingers and eventually we give up hope on this conquest. But, now there is finally hope ? Mesotherapy. Originally invented by a French doctor, Dr. Michel Pistor, in 1952, Mesotherapy (pronounced mez-o-therapy) is a nonsurgical alternative to liposunction which reduces fat and cellulite in unwanted areas. A cocktail of naturally occurring proteins, enzymes, and nutraceuticals are injected into the "mesoderm," the layer of fat underneath the skin. This formulation of medication then breaks down the fat, where some of the fat is metabolized, some reused by the liver, some digested, and the rest is excreted by the kidneys.
Mesotherapy has become a revolutionary phenomenon sweeping across the country for the past decade. This minimally invasive procedure has grown in popularity for many reasons: there are no risk of general anesthesia, virtually no downtown whereby patients can return to work or normal daily activities the same day, minimal pain and bruising, and most importantly, complications are rare. In addition, although results can vary from patient to patient, patients can lose on average 1-3 inches around the abdomen and up to 4 pants sizes.
Most people between the ages of 18 - 75 and generally healthy are candidates for Mesotherapy. Most areas of the body can be treated including areas underneath the eyes and chins, arms, chest, abdomen, love handles, saddlebags, and thighs. Cellulite can also be treated as well. Patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding, uncontrolled diabetes, active cancers, active infection or skin disease, or anyone who is immunosuppressed are not candidates for this procedure. Patients with a history of stroke, heart disease, controlled diabetes, or blood clots should consult their doctor before having the procedure.
If one decides to undergo this treatment, one can expect to feel sore, warm, and swollen in the treated areas, lasting about 1-5 days. Interestingly, most patients do not notice the injections themselves because a strong topical anesthetic is used and the needle used is very thin, similar to an acupuncture needle and much smaller than the needle used to withdraw blood. Patients usually do not need to take any pain medications, but if needed, Tylenol is usually sufficient. While undergoing the treatments, it is recommended that patients follow a low salt diet to avoid exacerbating any possible swelling and to drink 6-10 glasses per day to assist in flushing the melted fat. Once the fat is melted away, the results are permanent so as long as patients maintain a balanced diet and follow a regular exercise regimen.
Although Mesotherapy can have impressive results, the procedure is not FDA approved. In addition, no peer reviewed, clinical trials have been published to study its efficacy or long term outcomes. There are some clinical trials currently underway, but for now, only anecdotal testimonials are available. At this point, it is important to go to a reputable clinic which has considerable experience in Mesotherapy. These injections should be performed by board certified physicians who have been proficiently trained in Mesotherapy injections as well as educated on managing any complications or problems should they occur. A reputable clinic should also be able to provide ample before and after photos of their own patients as well as provide contact numbers of those patients, whereby allowing one to ask questions about their experience with the doctor and procedure, thereby allowing one to be more confident about their decision.