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Developed in France in 1952 and introduced a few years ago in the U.S., mesotherapy is promoted as a nonsurgical alternative to liposuction for cellulite reduction and body contouring. But it has not been proven effective and is potentially dangerous.
Cellulite is a nonmedical term for deposits of fat that give the skin a dimply appearance. In mesotherapy, a doctor injects a mixture of drugs, plant extracts, enzymes, and other compounds into these "problem" areas. Ingredients commonly used are phosphatidylcholine (lecithin) and isoproterenol (an asthma drug that's been used in obesity research). Proponents say mesotherapy increases blood and lymph flow in the tissues and breaks up fat cells, which are then excreted from the body.
But no one really knows how it might work, or, if there is an effect, how significant it is. That makes many doctors wary of performing the procedure. Moreover, there are no standard formulas or doses; practitioners make their own mixtures. And none of the drugs are FDA-approved for use in mesotherapy for body contouring. It's also unknown if the procedure affects other tissues or organs. Mesotherapy can cost more than $1,000 a session, and five or more sessions may be recommended.
Though there have been no reports of heart attacks or strokes, as there have been with liposuction, mesotherapy is not risk-free. It can cause extreme swelling, allergic reactions, and skin lesions, and there are reports of infections, which have required drug treatment and even surgery. If done incorrectly, there can be scarring.
Words to the wise: Stay away from mesotherapy. The best advice is to exercise and to lose weight, if youre overweight. That may help reduce the appearance of cellulite and also has proven health benefits.