The French Way to Lose Weight
Mesotherapy is widely practiced in France as a weight-loss technique, but it hasn't caught on in the U.S. And some doctors are glad about that.
It should come as no surprise that France, land of
l'amour, has come up with a way to give us the svelte, sexy bodies we
crave. But even if you can afford it (it's not cheap and it's not covered by
insurance), is it something you should consider? Like many therapies that
loosely come under the heading of "alternative medicine," it all
depends on whom you ask.
The French-imported medical technique that's all the buzz these
days is called mesotherapy. Developed in 1952 in France by Dr. Michel Pistor,
originally for the treatment of vascular and infectious diseases, sports
injuries, and the improvement of circulation, the technique involves the
injection of small amounts of various medications into the mesoderm, the layer
of fat and connective tissue under the skin. The theory is that when these
small amounts of medication are injected into the mesoderm, underlying fat is
Since 1952, approximately 15,000 doctors in France and South America have
been using mesotherapy, and now doctors in the U.S. are rapidly jumping on the
bandwagon. In August, about 40 doctors attended the first intensive course in
mesotherapy offered in the U.S. Prior to this course, presented by the
International Society of Mesotherapy and the Pan American Mesotherapy Society,
doctors had to travel to France to be trained.
One of those who did just that is Marion Shapiro, DO, a former
emergency room doctor who is the director of Mesotherapy Associates PC in New
York City and West Orange, N.J. Since opening her practice last year, Shapiro
sees approximately 150 patients a week. Mesotherapy doesn't work in
approximately 5% of patients, says Shapiro, but in the other 95%, "the
results are spectacular."
Patients come to Shapiro seeking a quick fix for cellulite,
spot weight reduction, or overall weight loss. The compounds injected depend
upon what Shapiro is trying to treat -- i.e. cellulite vs. fat -- but generally
include a combination of medications such as aminophylline and Novocain and
plant extracts and vitamins. The compounds injected are all FDA-approved for
their original use, says Shapiro. But they have not been approved specifically