Mesotherapy: The Low Down On Meso-Mania
Recently, mesotherapy was featured on the front page of the UK's industry magazine, Cosmetic News. After a lull in popularity, it seems that meso is firmly back on the radar for 2013. I, for one, am pretty excited to introduce my clients to this fantastic treatment... although I have my work cut out if I'm to convince my regulars that it's really worth pursuing. One of the questions I've been asked over and over again is whether there's any serious science behind the treatment - or is it just pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo?
A short history lesson for you: mesotherapy was 'discovered' in France - purely by accident - by Dr. Michel Pistor in 1958, and was formally admitted onto the country's roster of accepted medical treatments in the late 1980s. Achieving this level of recognition is no mean feat for a technique that has been described as having many different 'benefits'. Therapeutic, holistic, and immunising are some of the most common adjectives found in meso-related literature, and this has acted to generate some confusion surrounding the uses of mesotherapy. Not all of mesotherapy's applications are within the realm of aesthetic medicine, although many of them are. Either way, it's important to emphasise that the success of mesotherapy treatments will always depend on the medication used, the condition of the skin, and the severity of the ailment being treated.
Monsieur Pistor, purveyor of firm and toned bodies
The medical technique of mesotherapy is also employed for holistic purposes. The equine world has homed in on the action, with horses receiving micro-injections for chronic neck and back conditions.
Don't worry - no horses were harmed in the making of this article.
However... mesotherapy is currently banned in France. That's right; in 2011, the HAS (French health regulators) banned mesotherapy lipolysis injections, along with carboxytherapy and fat reducing machines. Whilst this draconian legislation didn't affect mesotherapy's applications in other areas of medicine, it was a fairly big blow to its European practice.
Why the bad rep? Well, scandal ensued when the demand for fat reducing mesotherapy treatments grew faster than the skills of the practitioners performing them. Ingredients such as phosphatidylcholine and sodium deoxycholate, which are commonly used to reduce fat, can have significant side effects in inexperienced hands. Two of the "worst offenders" containing these ingredients - Aqualyx and Lipostabil - have since been banned in France and Brazil.
Does mesotherapy still have a place in modern medical aesthetics? Forgoing the latest technologies (CoolSculpting, i-Lipo, Exilis) in favour of micro-injections may seem a little backward. Clients are rightly concerned as to whether their time and monetary commitments will yield significant visual improvements, as well as giving them the 'feel good' factor. Although established treatments like meso may not have the same appeal as the "next big thing", the fact is that they remain more adaptable and highly customisable than many "faddish" machines.
So, what exactly is it? 'Traditional' mesotherapy involves tiny micro-injections of ingredients into the skin's mesoderm. This term - from which the name mesotherapy originates - refers to the middle layer of skin, approximately 2-6mm down from the skin's surface. Ingredients are kept in sterile, sealed containers and come in neat little glass bottles or ampoules.
Armesso AM: Latin American mesotherapy products
Needle-free mesotherapy is quite different to the kind envisaged by Dr. Pistor. This is when a medical instrument, such as an ultrasound current or galvanic device, is used to "push" a topically applied cream, gel or medication into the skin via means of external massage. Treatments billed as "fat cavitation" are now very popular, and these employ the same technique as needle-free mesotherapy - albeit marketed under a different name. Professional solutions that contain caffeine or l-carnitine (a fat carrier solution) are used for needle free treatments. These can help metabolise fat and break down the connective tissue that causes cellulite.
Needle-free meso with the BTL 5000 device
Mesotherapy injections could actually be better than lipo for treating localised pockets of cellulite. They can break down cellulite's tough fibroblast stronghold and encourage lymphatic drainage. Moreover, they can be precisely targeted and injected into dimpled areas - gaining a significant advantage over liposuction in this area. Dr. Lionel Bisson (US proponent of mesotherapy) states in his book, The Cellulite Cure: "Mesotherapy is a multi-faceted approach to successfully treating cellulite - one that offers significant advantages over methods such as liposuction."
Before and after 3 mesotherapy treatments for cellulite (pic courtesy of 'The Cellulite Cure')
Is it safe? In the hands of a trained practitioner who follows stringent hypodermic protocols and uses the best medications, mesotherapy is a very safe treatment. Contraindications include pregnancy, a high BMI (over 30), chronic diseases such as lupus, and anticoagulant ingestion.
Now for the kicker... does it REALLY work? This rests on:
a. Your practitioner's level of skill and experience - preparation, technique and injecting the solution into the correct tissue plane are crucial factors
b. The quality of ingredients/medication used (i.e. what professional solution is being used - is it medical grade, lab tested and manufactured in a professional and sterile environment?)
c. What you are attempting to treat and how significant your issues are
d. High quality ingredients and product selection are crucial.
What are the primary aesthetic concerns that mesotherapy can treat?
Traditionally, mesotherapy micro-injections for aesthetic improvement falls into the following six categories:
- Lymphatic drainage
- Edema (swelling)
- Skin flaccidity (sagging)
Commonly treated conditions include:
I use the highest quality medical grade mesotherapy medications from Koreesa. In my view, this is the UK's best mesotherapy ingredient supplier as I just know all of my ingredient orders are guaranteed to be super high quality. For micro-injection treatments, I use Arnesso AM and Oxynergy Paris solutions; for needle-free treatments, I prefer Institute BCN's range of ampoules and have recently taken on another brand, Toskani Cosmetics. Feel free to contact me or call 0203 290 7546 for more information about mesotherapy treatments in the UK.