Patient Information - Injection Lipolysis with Phosphatidylcholine

What is injection lipolysis?

Referred to in German speaking countries as “Fettweg-Spritze” (directly translated into English by Germans as “fat-away”), injection lipolysis, as it is properly called, describes the injection of drug mixtures, often the agent phosphatidylcholine, into undesired fat deposits to break them down.

For which kind of patients and applications is injection lipolysis most suitable?

Injection lipolysis is most suitable for patients who desire to have small fat deposits, such as double chins, removed or for patients who had previously had liposuction performed. It is also suited for the treatment of soft lipomata and the smoothing of skin affected by cellulite. When it comes to larger areas, however, the treatment is at its limits and is unable to provide the precision offered by liposuction.

How is injection lipolysis actually performed?

Phosphatidylcholine is injected into the fatty tissue to liquefy the fat cells in the specified area of the body. Some of the liquefied fat cells are processed by the liver and discharged by means of the intestines. Overall, patient compatibility is very good, however, there are certain limitations from patient to patient. In general, women react better to the treatments.

How was injection lipolysis developed?

Phosphatidylcholine is a natural substance that occurs in the human body, for example, in the gallbladder. The substance used in the medication is a lecithin obtained from soybeans. Its original and principal use in medicine has been to remove fat emboli, which, in the event of broken bones, can often lead to life threatening complications. For the treatment of fat emboli, it is administered intravenously. It is also approved as tablet or in pill form for the treatment of lipid metabolism disorders.

The first trial skin application was performed in 1995 by the Brazilian physician Dr. Rittes. She successfully treated unsightly fat deposits of the lower eye pads with small quantities of phosphatidylcholine.

What do findings indicate?

Currently, many patients have been treated with very good results, however, substantial, official scientific studies with specific findings are not yet available. In South America, phosphatidylcholine has been regularly used since 1995 to treat fat deposits. Injection lipolysis is an example of a medical procedure in which the actual practice has advanced beyond the commonly held theory, explaining why this treatment has yet to be officially approved for the manufacturing company. To provide scientific support for the procedure, clinical studies are now in progress.

When is liposuction preferred to injection lipolysis?

For larger areas, liposuction is superior to injection lipolysis, which would require numerous sessions for large areas, as the size of the dosage is limited per session. Moreover, today’s modern liposuction techniques permit much more precise, detailed sculpturing of the profile for better overall appearance. Furthermore, liposuction offers the option of freezing the fatty tissue obtained from the patient for later use in autologous fillers for other body locations.

How does the treatment proceed and what is to be expected after the injection?

Minimally painful, the injections are administered to the fatty tissue under the skin and spaced 1.5 cm apart in the area where the undesired fat is found. Experience has shown that repeated treatments with smaller quantities help maintain better control over the treatment and are easier on the patients. For this reason, common practice is to break the treatment down into multiple sessions, usually two to four per session in four to six week intervals. After the injections have been performed in the targeted areas, local inflammation with redness and swelling occur, which are an indication that the tissue (in this case, undesired fatty tissue) is being broken down. At this time, it is possible to see how successful the procedure was. Perhaps more telling, however, is to measure and document the circumference as the volume decreases.

What are the side effects, if any?

Besides the commonly occurring effects that have already been described, like redness and swelling, there is a chance of bruising. The treated area remains painful, the extent of which is similar to sore or stiff muscles, for several days. To date, no serious side effects have been documented and to avoid such side effects in the future, small dosages, which make the treatments easier for the body to handle, are recommended.

What are the results like?

Very good results can be achieved with circumscribed fat deposits. Because the treatment’s success is dependant on liquefaction of fatty cells, areas with densely infiltrated fibrous structures are not especially suitable for this procedure.