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Mesotherapy: Truly good or too good to be true?

Article-Mesotherapy: Truly good or too good to be true?

Abdala Kalil, M.D
Alongtime European procedure imported to the United States is fiercely gaining popularity in the aesthetic market, despite skepticism from some camps.

Abdala Kalil, M.D., of the Vitality Institute in Miami Beach, Fla., president of the American Society of Aesthetics and Mesotherapy (ASAM) and vice chairman of the American Academy of Aesthetic Medicine (AAAM), says he knows perfectly well why mesotherapy is getting so much attention.

Peter Fodor, M.D
"Basically, anything that has to do with vanity is popular," he jokes. "That was an easy answer." In the spotlight For a procedure that's only been available in America for five years, however, Dr. Kalil says mesotherapy has won a prime place in the spotlight relatively quickly. Mesotherapy is promoted as a low-to-non-risk, noninvasive alternative to procedures such as liposuction, facelifts and cellulite management, with a virtual lack of downtime that would appeal to consumers in search of the quicker fix.

In a prepared statement, Peter Fodor, M.D., president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), criticized mesotherapy.

"If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is ... and it may be dangerous as well," he says.

The general concern of ASAPS is that mesotherapy is an unregulated and largely untested treatment. It needs more controlled scientific and clinical research before getting the thumbs-up.

Abdala Kalil, M.D., says he uses a stronger mesotherapy solution than is used in Europe, though he takes into account individual patient needs. He adds that his method usually requires three to five visits for the desired results, as opposed to the typical 10 to 20 visits required in Europe. (Photos: Abdala Kalil, M.D)
Offer training Dr. Kalil and the ASAM and AAAM offer training to physicians looking to get into the mesotherapy business. He says that in 2004 year alone, the organizations trained close to 1,000 physicians, bringing the approximate number of practitioners to a couple thousand in the United States, up from about 10 practitioners five years ago.

He offers the argument, "If there were no success with mesotherapy, people would not come to learn."

The ASAM Web site describes mesotherapy as a "painless injection of vitamins, minerals, medications and amino acids placed just under the skin." "Mesotherapy" is the broad term referring to the practice of injecting medicine or other substances into the mesoderm at the problem site with the belief that the local network will distribute the substances to the areas where they are needed. The direct delivery method allows for smaller doses while delivering the same results. Its uses vary with the substance being injected, giving it a wide range of applications. French physician Dr. Michel Pistor developed the technique in 1952, and the method has been used in Europe since then.

More aggressive form Dr. Kalil credits himself with revising the European form of mesotherapy into a more aggressive form being used in the United States, because a 10- to 20-session regimen wouldn't work here, he says.

"In the U.S., as they say, it's the culture of the drive-through. I mean, now we get married at the drive-through. You don't even have to get out of the car. So 10 to 20 sessions would never have caught on. Everybody wants to have quicker results and everyone wants to have fewer sessions."

Today, 80 percent of mesotherapy's use in Europe is for medical conditions; 20 percent, for aesthetic purposes.

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