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Would you jab your fat away? The facts about fat dissolving injections

One aesthetics-approved way to dissolve fat is to inject it – but how safe and effective is the procedure? We explain all...

Are you, despite working hard in the gym and eating a balanced diet, frustrated with stubborn pockets of fat under your chin or on your stomach, flanks, arms or thighs? Then fat melting injections, otherwise known as the ‘the flab jab’, might provide a quick-fix, non-surgical alternative to liposuction or fat freezing, and help get rid of unwanted fat for good.

What are fat melting injections?

These injections contain a solution of deoxycholic acid, a compound which has been used medically for many years. When injected into fat, it works by causing the treated fat cells to liquefy. These cells will then be broken down and cleared naturally and permanently from the body through the lymphatic system. Only non-essential fat cells are removed. Unlike liposuction, fat melting injections can also lead to a degree of skin contraction, meaning you’re less likely to end up with loose skin around the treated areas.

What areas of the body can be treated?

Fat melting injections are most effective for treating small, localised and stubborn pockets of fat that don’t respond to diet and exercise. They are not a weight loss treatment in themselves and so are only really suitable for healthy individuals who are already close to their ideal weight. Etre Vous Expert Dr Ioannis Liakas from Vie Aesthetics says, “Opting for fat dissolving injections should be used as part of a long-term programme for weight management, alongside exercise and a balanced diet.”

What does the treatment involve?

The treatment takes about 15-30 minutes and should only be performed by a qualified doctor or practitioner. The injections are precisely placed into the fat under the skin: “We use an elastic needle to make the procedure more comfortable and also administer local anaesthetic into the injection to ease any discomfort as best possible”, says Dr Liakas.

What is the downtime?

There can be some considerable swelling afterwards, particularly under the chin where it is normal to get a bullfrog-type swelling for up to five days, so you definitely need to factor that in. Bruising can appear, and along with the swelling may take up to nine days altogether to resolve. However, some practitioners are finding that Belkyra (see below) is decreasing this downtime.

What results can be expected?

Results will begin to be visible after about four weeks, although this varies from patient to patient, with final results between 8-12 weeks. A course of treatment is usually needed, says Dr Liakis. “Most patients generally need to repeat the treatment between two and eight times, with three or four weeks between sessions.” Like liposuction and fat freezing, once the fat cells are gone they are gone for good, providing there’s no more than a minimal change to your weight.

What's new in the fat dissolving sphere?

Until quite recently, the most commonly used fat melting injection available in the UK was Aqualyx. But earlier this year a brand called Belkyra was launched and is the only FDA-approved medicine to permanently dissolve fat in the chin area. While new to the UK, Belkyra has been popular in the US for some time, where it is known as Kybella. Although it contains the same active solution, some practitioners are finding that it has other benefits. Dr Sabika Karim from Skin Medical says, “I’ve been using Belkyra since it launched earlier this year and my patients have really surprised me, there is barely any discomfort and no pain at all. Mild swelling and redness is par of the course but it’s mild, a bit like having fillers.”

Ioannis Liakas, Medical Director

Dr Ioannis Liakas is a shining gem in the aesthetics world. Prior to becoming an industry leading practitioner, he worked...

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