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FDA Issues Warning on Unauthorized Fat-Dissolving Injections

concept of aesthetic treatment of jowls, injection of deoxycholic acid.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently warned against the use of unauthorized fat-dissolving injections, emphasizing the potential harm they pose to individuals seeking fat reduction.

Intended to dissolve fat cells in targeted areas of the body, the injections instead have left many patients struggling with a wide range of side effects. According to the report, these include permanent scarring, severe infections, skin deformities, cysts, and deep, painful knots. 

Some patients have experienced adverse reactions following injections from improperly licensed personnel, while others have resorted to injecting themselves with unapproved drugs acquired online. Doing so poses a significant risk, as injecting at the wrong depth can result in a litany of additional hazards.

These treatments, also called lipolysis injections, attract patients due to the nonsurgical manner in which they claim to burn small amounts of fat. Nevertheless, the FDA underscored how unapproved brands like Aqualyx, Lipodissolve, Lipo Lab, and Kabelline are being misused. 

Common ingredients in the injections include two unapproved substances, phosphatidylcholine and sodium deoxycholate. The FDA advises consumers to be wary of claims related to fat-dissolving injections and to consult with qualified healthcare professionals before considering any cosmetic procedures. 

The only current injectable treatment approved for breaking down fat cells just beneath the skin is Kybella, which is strictly cleared for use in the submental area. 

Kybella injections use deoxycholic acid, a bile naturally produced in our bodies, to break down and absorb fat. Although it has been found to provide at least a 10 percent reduction of under-chin fat, its scope is limited to a small part of the neck (image below).  

kybella injection site areas

Image Credit: FDA

Furthermore, the FDA highlights risks, including nerve injury, ulceration, and necrosis from improper injections, along with other possible side effects, including difficulty swallowing and hair loss at the injection site. Less severe side Kybella effects like injection site numbness, pain, and swelling were found to have lasted for over 30 days in a significant number of patients, too.  

By contrast, minimally invasive fat removal techniques like AirSculpt can remove a majority of unwanted chin and neck fat in a single, minimally invasive procedure. Instead of injecting an area and waiting for a chemical reaction, AirSculpt surgeon-artists delicately remove chin fat cell-by-cell through a freckle-sized entryway. This body sculpting method gives surgeons unmatched finesse, reduces the appearance of any post-procedure scarring, and limits downtime to just 24 to 48 hours.  

As AirSculpt inventor Dr. Aaron Rollins demonstrates, this fat removal technique is not limited to a small region under the chin, as it can sculpt from ear to ear along the jawline, target jowls, and remove neck fat while leaving skin tighter. Patients can even revise subpar injection lipolysis results with AirSculpt's corrective treatment once any more serious medical concerns have been alleviated. 

This customizable approach is only performed by highly trained, qualified plastic surgeons. Patients remain fully awake, alert, and comfortable, providing real-time feedback to their surgeons to ensure their desired look is achieved. 

Beyond removing double chin fat, the AirSculpt approach enables surgeons to perform targeted fat transfers to the jawline area to accentuate facial features further. Called AirSculpt Lift, these fat injections offer patients natural-looking facial rejuvenation results that last for years, meaning there is no need for maintenance sessions needed with fillers. 


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