The FDA is starting to clamp down on spas and clinics that offer lipodisollve or mesotherapy, an injectable treatment for cellulite.

Mesotherapy – also called lipolysis, lipozap, lipotherapy, or lipodissolve - is unregulated and there are no standard procedures. Mesotherapy uses a cocktail of fat cell busting medications, vitamins and plant extracts. No two doctors will necessarily administer the same cocktail. Some seem to use an emphysema drug called aminophylline. It is used in mesotherapy as it is proven to help improve blood flow in patients with respiratory problems and the hope is that it will do the same with those who have cellulite. One study in 1999 suggested that there is no evidence that aminophylline works.

Other practitioners use a couple of biological detergents (one comes from cow bile) that are known fat cell busters. One of them, phosphatidylcholine is a licensed drug in Germany for treating blood vessel blockages. It is not licensed for cosmetic surgery. Phosphatydlcholine is one drug used in mesotherapy that the FDA actively lobbies against, because it is a drug that the FDA is able to regulate and is not approved by the administration for any sort of use. Despite this, it is still a very popular component in many mesotherapy kits, sold under the name Lipostabil. It is also commonly abbreviated as PC or PPC.

Yohimbine is a commonly used drug approved by the FDA, but not for mesotherapy. It was actually originally used to treat erectile dysfunction. It works in a manner similar to aminophylline, as it causes vasodilation, thus increasing blood flow. It is believed that increased blood flow reduces fluid retention, and reduced fluid retention can possibly lead to less cellulite.

The FDA is warning consumers that:

  • It has not evaluated or approved products for use in lipodissolve

  • It is not aware of evidence supporting the effectiveness of the substances used in lipodissolve for fat elimination

  • The safety of these substances, when used alone or in combination, is unknown

  • It is not aware of clinical studies to support medical uses of lipodissolve

  • In addition, FDA has reports of unexpected side effects in people who’ve undergone the lipodissolve procedure. These side effects include

  • Permanent scarring

  • Skin deformation

  • Deep, painful knots under the skin in areas where the lipodissolve treatments were injected