Feeling fat? There’s a shot for that

Anti-fat injection, lipodissolve, is latest American cosmetics craze

WHEN WE’RE HAVING a ‘fat day’, we might phone a friend for a mood-boost, or have a ‘therapeutic’ glass of vino to lift our spirits. But, in America, the latest feeling fat-fighter is a cosmetic injection called lipodissolve.

This controversial procedure, which uses a drug compound to break down cells in the fatty layer under the skin, has sky-rocketed in popularity since it hit surgeries in Missouri and Kansas.

The Advanced LipoDissolve Centre, which recently changed its name to Fig. and specialises in the injections, opened its first offices in St. Louis in September 2005. Because the shots target small areas of unwanted fatty deposits, the company marketed it as a less invasive procedure than liposuction. Soon after, more than a dozen spas and doctors’ surgeries started offering the procedure.

Now Fig., whose motto is ‘dissolve to your beautiful shape’, has 15 centres across seven states and, according to the company’s chief development officer Chris Dornfield, it has now performed over 100,000 lipodissolve treatments.

The procedure typically costs $2,000 per body part and requires a series of six injection sessions, spaced two weeks apart.

Doctors who administer the treatments advise clients that the shots can cause stinging, swelling, redness and bumps and that the inflammation indicates the medication is working. But the British Health Authority warned that it had received reports about side affects.

In fact, the procedure is hotly debated, and the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) has not approved any drug to be used cosmetically in anti-fat injections. The drug formula, therefore, is not standardised, and researchers question whether the shots eliminate fat cells, or merely liquefy fat, causing it to shift round the body, raising the possibility of long-term problems like aggravating heart disease.

‘These are unapproved drugs for unapproved uses and we can’t guarantee consumers’ safety,’ warns Karen Riley, an FDA spokeswoman.

Rob Semaan, the chief executive of Fig., said that lipodissolve is safe, and that doctors, who have performed the procedure worldwide, had not reported any deaths or other serious consequences.

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