Maybe mesotherapy

September 1, 2008

Sooner or later, it's likely to happen to you. There's something about your body that you would like to change. Maybe you're ready to get rid of your cellulite. Maybe you want to lose some weight, or have facial rejuvenation that won't keep you behind closed doors. What's a girl to do?

mes•o•ther•a•py (mĕz"o-thĕr'ə-pē) [From Greek mesos, "middle," and therapeia, "to treat medically"]

n. A nonsurgical cosmetic medicine treatment used as a substitute for liposuction. Mesotherapy consists of multiple injections of pharmaceutical and homeopathic medications, plant extracts, vitamins, and other ingredients into the fat under your skin.

Sooner or later, it's likely to happen to you.

Depending on whom you ask, the answer may very well be mesotherapy.

Trimming the fat

According to the Web site of the American Board of Aesthetic Mesotherapy ( http://www.abameso.org/), this procedure "involves painless microinjections into the skin, achieving a desired therapeutic result."

Developed in France a half century ago, mesotherapy was originally used to treat vascular and lymphatic disorders. But going a step further, and depending on the substance injected, it might also be used to noninvasively treat a number of other conditions. Common uses for mesotherapy include body contouring, treating cellulite, reducing body fat and effecting spot weight loss.

While at first blush this sounds great, it's important to note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the procedure here in the United States. But many are working to change that.

Neil Sadick, M.D., clinical professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, President of the Cosmetic Surgery Foundation, and private practitioner at Sadick Dermatology, New York, says mesotherapy is starting to make its mark in the U.S.

"While in Europe it's also used for facial rejuvenation, here in the States, we see it more for noninvasive fat reduction.

"In my office, we perform mesotherapy in a research setting, Dr. Sadick explains. "We are undertaking research trials to look at its efficacy and safety. If the FDA approves it, it will become much more commonplace."

Safety first

To determine if a provider is qualified to administer mesotherapy, Dr. Sadick suggests you look at the Web site of the American Society for Mesotherapeutic Liposculpture ( http://www.mesotherapeutic.com/), where you can view a list of providers.

Other questions Dr. Sadick says you should ask before undergoing the procedure include whether the provider is a licensed physician. If not, look elsewhere. And ask to speak to patients who have undergone the procedure.

Noninvasive fat reduction is appealing; but some patients want more.

Additional indications for which mesotherapy is commonly used in Europe, Dr. Sadick says, "are more controversial. You have to ask where the products are made, and if they're safe, because right now, there's no standardization of compounding," so you really don't know what you're getting.

Buyer beware

Assuming it earns FDA approval for fat reduction, "Mesotherapy will become a part of the armamentarium of dermatologists," Dr. Sadick predicts. "But it's just starting to get there now, through the proper use of FDA research and trials. There need to be more clinical trials, first for the fat-reduction techniques, and later, probably, for rejuvenation."

Until that time, you can still benefit from mesotherapy, but, as with all cosmetic care, do your research. And in the end, remember those old words of wisdom: caveat emptor - buyer beware!