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New Procedure To Melt Fat Away?

NEW YORK, October 23, 2004

(CBS) Dr. Lionel Bissoon practices a new treatment for unwanted fat called mesotherapy, a minimally invasive procedure that claims to melt fat away, reports The Early Show’s Dr. Mallika Marshall.

The procedure is highly effective because the treatment targets the problem areas directly, Dr. Bissoon says. He believes it is much safer than cosmetic surgery.

"The biggest side effect is black and blue marks," he says.

Dr. Bissoon began practicing mesotherapy five years ago in France, where it’s been in use over half a century. When he started, there were only two mesotherapists in the United States. Now, he says, there are more than five hundred.

Critics like Dr. Leroy Young of the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons fat chance that it’s really effective. "I don’t think it qualifies as medicine. This is more snake oil than medicine," he says.

But Josselyne Herman-Saccio swears by the procedure. After hormone therapy, she gained weight around her face, so she signed on to reduce fat around her jaw line.

"I saw a huge difference within three days, I couldn’t believe the difference when I would look in the mirror," she says.

Does it really work? To date, no scientific study has been conducted which, says Young, is part of the problem.

"If this is so good, why doesn’t someone do a study and prove its efficacy?" challenges Dr. Young.

Dr. Bissoon responds, "These studies will be done. These studies are being worked on right now."

Bisson believes that within five years, almost every physician in America will be doing some form of mesotherapy. Perhaps by then, we might even know if it really works.

Dr. Marshall says the procedure looks very painful, because each session involves many needle sticks. However, the patients she talked to said it really didn’t hurt. The needles are very small and the patients say they feel like tiny pinpricks. Some patients apply a topical anesthetic cream to the skin an hour or two before the procedure to reduce the pinch, but many patients say they don’t need any anesthesia at all. According to Dr. Bissoon, mesotherapy’s recovery time and bruising are minimal.

Liposuction is different from mesotherapy. With liposuction, doctors actually use suction to remove fat from targeted areas of the body with small tubes inserted though tiny incisions in the skin. It can be done with local or general anesthesia, depending on the technique. It can take a few days to a few weeks to recover, depending on how much lipsosuction is performed, and there can be significant side effects.

Critics of mesotherapy say that there’s no concrete proof that it works, and that some of the medications that mesotherapists employ can be very irritating to the skin.

Dr. Bissoon asserts that mesotherapy can be used to treat obesity. He says patients of his have lost inches off their waist using mesotherapy, but obviously there’s still a lot of healthy skepticism out there. Even Dr. Bissoon says people still have to eat a proper diet and exercise in order to lose weight and keep it off.

Mesotherapy has been used to treat other medical conditions such as migraine headaches, back pain and arthritis.

© MMIV, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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