Have you ever felt frustrated about fat that won’t go away even with exercising or eating healthy? While lifestyle habits are key to slimming down, some areas of the body can be more stubborn–for example, it can be harder to reduce a double chin or to lose fat around the hips.
You might already have heard of liposuction, but there’s a less invasive procedure that’s better suited for people who only want to target small, specific areas of fat. Fat dissolving injections have been around since the 1980s, and they’re used by plastic surgeons all over the world. In fact, a study done on more than 400 people showed that all of the patients had reduced fat (https://academic.oup.com/asj/article/26/2/125/218297) in the area where they were injected.
In this guide, we’ll go through what you need to know about fat dissolving, including:
- How does fat dissolving work?
- Is fat dissolving the right procedure for me?
- What results can I expect from fat dissolving?
- Is there anything I need to do after a fat dissolving session?
Read on to learn all about it.
What is Fat Dissolving?
As you can guess from the name, fat dissolving essentially reduces fat in a specific area of your body. It’s a much gentler procedure because there’s no surgery involved–you’ll only receive a quick series of injections, with the entire session lasting for only 20 minutes up to an hour.
The injections contain deoxycholic acid (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30272141/), which is an FDA-approved drug for fat dissolving. Deoxycholic is actually a natural substance that’s produced by the body. To be specific, it’s a salt that’s produced by the liver to help in digestion, and its main purpose is to break down fats!
Fat dissolving works in the same way. After the injections, the fats in your targeted area will start breaking down, and you’ll pee them out safely over a few weeks. Once the results kick in, they last for a long time, although some clients might need two to five sessions depending on the amount of fat.
Ideal Clients for Fat Dissolving
Ultimately, fat dissolving injections are meant for those who already have a healthy weight and who simply want to lose small pockets of fat. As effective as fat dissolving injections are, they’re not meant to be used for larger amounts of fat, which might be better suited for liposuction. Those with a BMI of 28 or less tend to see results the fastest.
To sum it up, fat dissolving isn’t suitable for those who are:
- Under 18 years old or over 60 years old
- Clinically overweight
- Pregnant or lactating women
Aside from these basic requirements, your doctor will also check your medical history thoroughly to make sure that you don’t have the following:
- Health conditions such as kidney disease or diabetes
- Surgery scar tissue on the targeted area
- Poor skin elasticity
Skin elasticity is important so that when you lose fat, your skin will be able to snap back firmly. Since most people will have to do several sessions for best results, your doctor will also check if you’re willing to commit and try out a personalized treatment plan.
Areas of the Body for Fat Dissolving Injections
Fat dissolving can be used in different parts of the body. Still, injections tend to have the fastest and most visible results when done on the face–specifically, for double chins!
Contrary to popular opinion, it’s very difficult to remove a double chin just through exercise or eating healthy. While other parts of your body might slim down or get toned, a double chin can refuse to budge–once fat deposits form there, they almost always stay.
A double chin doesn’t result only from being overweight either–for some people, it’s part of their genetics, while others can develop one as they age because of their skin becoming less supple. Fat dissolving injections can help get rid of it, resulting in a more contoured jawline.
Other body parts can also be targeted with fat dissolving:
- Upper arms
- Love handles (on the belly)
- Muffin top (around the hips)
- Saddlebags (under the buttocks)
What Happens During a Fat Dissolving Session
A fat dissolving session typically lasts for 20 minutes up to 1 hour. Each session uses up around 3-5 mL of deoxycholic acid, which is distributed across 15-30 injections on your targeted area. While you might be nervous about the injections, your doctor will apply a comfortable amount of anesthetic so you’ll only feel the pressure from the injections. There might be a mild burning sensation as the deoxycholic acid kicks in, but patients generally experience minimal discomfort during the procedure.
Here’s a play by play of what you can expect:
- Your doctor will ask you to sign a consent form. Once you’re in, they’ll draw a mark around the area where they’ll be injecting you to guide them during the procedure. They’ll also take photos so you can keep track of your progress and take note of the results.
- To prep, your skin will be disinfected. There might already be anesthetic mixed in with the injection your doctor will be using, but they will still apply additional anesthetic on your target area to make sure that it’ll stay numb during the procedure.
- Your doctor will then start injecting. They will lightly pinch the area, then insert a long and thin needle into your skin at around 6-10 mm deep in order to reach the fats.
- Once all of the injections are done, your doctor might soothe your skin with an ice pack or apply topical antibiotics so it can stay disinfected right after your session.
Fat Dissolving Injections Results
While you might be excited to check your reflection right away, it takes time for the deoxycholic acid to work. Usually, you’ll start seeing signs of change after the first week, and the full effect will kick in only after four to six weeks. This amount of time is normal because it follows your body’s biological processes.
How deoxycholic acid works is by breaking down the membranes of fat cells. This means that it destroys fat permanently, and the contents of those fat cells are naturally flushed out by your lymphatic system. In other words, you’ll pee them out!
Although fat dissolving injections effectively remove the targeted fat cells, you’ll still have to practice good lifestyle habits to maintain this. This is because gaining weight can lead to the creation of new fat cells. As long as you keep your weight stable, the results of fat dissolving can be long-lasting, and the changes look natural too.
Since fat dissolving injections are non-invasive, they’re considered a gentle method that doesn’t stress the body the way surgery does. For best results, your doctor might recommend two to six sessions, depending on the area that you want to lose weight in. On the other hand, for small pockets of fat, it can take only one session.
What to Expect After a Fat Dissolving Session
Fat dissolving is administered through injections so you won’t need stitches, but your skin will still need some time to recover. It’s likely to be sensitive right after, and you’ll experience temporary swelling. This is a good sign because it means the deoxycholic acid from your injections is already working against your fat cells.
Swelling generally kicks in at 24 hours, and you’ll want to be gentle with your skin for up to one month as your body adjusts.
Aside from swelling, some people might experience numbness, hardening of the skin, itchiness, or redness. These are normal, and you’ll notice these effects subside along with the swelling as fat cells are flushed out of your body.
The entire recovery process generally lasts for around a month. By then, you’ll notice that your skin has healed, and you can already observe the changes in your appearance from the fat dissolving!
What’s convenient is that when you go for another fat dissolving session, recovery is often faster–your body adjusts the most during your first time, so your next sessions will be much more comfortable.
You won’t have to do much after your fat dissolving session, but your skin does need some extra care:
- For the first 24 hours, don’t apply skin products to your targeted area unless your doctor approves of it.
- For the first 5 days, take it easy and don’t strain your targeted area. For example, if you received injections on your arm, avoid push-ups, weightlifting, and other strenuous activities.
- This is optional, but you might want to put a warm compress on your skin to soothe it during the first few days.
In any case, your doctor will give some aftercare recommendations to you. You can also ask them directly about any makeup or skin products that you normally put on your targeted area.
Fat dissolving is a fast and minimally invasive procedure for people who are at a healthy weight but want to lose stubborn pockets of fat on certain body parts. Within one to six sessions, people can notice significant fat reduction.
How it works is a plastic surgeon injects your targeted area several times, with deoxycholic acid as the main component of the injections. Deoxycholic acid is a naturally occurring substance in the body that breaks down fat cells. The full results of a fat dissolving session become visible in around a month.
All in all, fat dissolving has been used by plastic surgeons worldwide for more than a decade, and it requires a lot less downtime compared to surgical procedures. If you’re looking for a way to lose extra fat that won’t budge despite your lifestyle efforts, then fat dissolving might be worth looking into.