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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.

"Spectacular" Results continued...

Some patients report seeing results after only the first treatment, but the majority report losing a dress size or belt notches after approximately four treatments, says Shapiro. For weight loss and/or cellulite reduction, Shapiro recommends 5 to 10 sessions; the number of injections at each session varies, from 50 to 150.

Because the injections are given with a chemical injector or "meso-gun" using a very tiny needle, patients generally report feeling no more sensation than an ant bite. The cost for each session ranges from $400 to $500. Not cheap, but as Shapiro says, "In the long run, it's significantly less than the price of liposuction."

Shapiro will see anyone between the ages of 18 and 70 who is in good health. Those who are on blood thinners, have blood clots or heart arrhythmia, or are pregnant or undergoing treatment for cancer, diabetes, or other significant major medical problems are not good candidates for the treatment.

Other Uses?

While Shapiro uses mesotherapy solely for weight loss and cellulite, mesotherapy has long been used in Europe and South America for a number of other conditions as well, ranging from hair loss to herpes, fibromyalgia, ankle sprains, bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and Bell's palsy, to name a few.

Allyn Brizel, MD, medical director for the Center for Clinical Age Management in Boca Raton, Fla., attended the recent U.S. training course in mesotherapy and will soon be offering the treatment to his patients, not only for cosmetic purposes, but also for hair loss and sports-related injuries. Brizel admits, though, that mesotherapy is receiving most of its attention in the U.S. because of its weight-loss benefits. "In this country, money is made from weight loss," he says.

According to Brizel, using mesotherapy for medical conditions as well makes sense, although he acknowledges that it is a treatment that's not widely recognized or accepted in this country. "You're using the same medications that you would take orally, but in injectable form," he says, adding that when drugs are given under the skin, the dose is 10% to 20% of the normal oral dose. "If you're going to take a medicine at all, why not take it by injection where you can take less of it?" he says.

No Evidence It Works

Not everyone is so gung-ho on the benefits of mesotherapy. Even though it was recognized in 1987 by the French Academy of Medicine as a part of traditional medicine, there have been no proven scientific benefits or merits, says Rod Rohrich, MD, president-elect of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and chairman of plastic surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. "This borders on medical experimentation," he says. "Injecting unknown substances into someone with multiple needle sticks is almost unconscionable."

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