“Guinea Pig” Patient: The „Fat-Away-Injection“
Comment of the Society for Aesthetic Surgery in Germanny, registered association (GÄCD) on Injection Lipolysis (Lipodissolve)
Düsseldorf/Hofheim, Oct. 30, 2003.
In aesthetic surgery, liposuction is by far the most favored cosmetic treatment in the whole Federal Republic. Only in the course of the past year, the members of GÄCD carried out about 28,000 liposuctions. How nice would it be if it was possible to inject fat simply away. Recently, the so-called “fat-away-injection” has been very much in the news. In this connection, a medicament that has up to date only been admitted for the treatment of fat embolism is injected into the fatty tissue where it is supposed to dissolve fat cells. Dr. Gerhard Sattler, Board member of the Society for Aesthetic Surgery in Germany, reg. association (GÄCD) and expert in the field of liposuction, however, raises his voice in warning: “The medicament has neither been admitted for fat dissolution nor has it been tested for this. Nothing is known about side effects, and long-term studies have not been conducted.” For these reasons, GÄCD at present refuses a treatment of fat deposits with the “fat-away-injection” point-blank. “Our patients are no guinea pigs”.
The main active substance of the fat-away-injection is phosphatidylcholine usually administered to reduce blood lipid concentrations. When used for the treatment of localized fat deposits it is injected subcutaneously – this means below the skin layers – into the fatty tissue. And here, it is supposed to “dissolve” fat. The “dissolved” fat is then disposed of via the blood circulation. “The application is based upon reports lacking any scientific background, and the use of this substance in the subcutaneous tissue has not even been assessed by animal experiments”, explains Dr. Sattler. Questions like how the body manages the disposal of greater amounts of fat or which side effects or late effects may occur in the treated tissue have not yet been answered. Apart from that, false hopes are held: wider areas like typical gluteofemoreal adiposity or belly cannot be treated with the fat-away-injection in a way that is comparable with liposuction. “The treating physician and the patient are going on very thin ice here”, summarizes Dr. Sattler with a critical look.
It seems as if Dr. Sattler wants to gain personality as an expert of the opposite position as it had already been revealed by his contribution in SAT 1. Please note some contradictions and gaps in his arguments: If Dr. Sattler really feels sure of his position why then does he inject phosphatidylcholine publicly in front of a running camera? Did he intend to prove the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the therapy? If it was an evidence of effectiveness: Why does Dr. Sattler work with an injection technique and a dosage discrediting him among informed medical specialists; as a matter of fact, this procedure cannot but prove ineffectiveness. Why does Dr. Sattler expose his patients to a therapy “the side effects of which are completely unknown”? And finally: the issue of risks should be treated prudently and unemotionally. Now, however, we would like to draw the attention on the generally available information about the existing risks of liposuction although we know that these data, too, are not able to give a realistic picture of the situation because they also include the cases of medical experts carrying out such difficult interventions without much experience and training – with the result that they increase the total risk which is considerably lower when experienced physicians carry out the treatment. For this reason, the surgical procedure of liposuction must not be discredited; a reference to a fair risk assessment, however, seems to be admissible.