Definition & Overview
Mesotherapy is a type of treatment that involves the injection of carefully calibrated liquid solution to stimulate the mesoderm for various purposes. The mesoderm is the subcutaneous layer where fat and connective tissues are found.
The technique was pioneered by Michel Pistor, a French physician who initially developed it for the treatment of tinnitus or ringing in the ear and pain management. Nowadays, it has a myriad applications ranging from treating medical conditions to enhancing one's physical appearance. The technique is used to apply microscopic quantities of pharmaceutical drugs, vitamins, homeopathic agents, and even natural extracts to provide pain relief, treat muscular and vascular conditions, eliminate cellulite, treat aging skin, and promote weight loss. The main ingredient of the liquid solution is phosphatidylcholine, an organic compound found in soy products. It also contains a small amount of bile salt that keeps the main ingredient soluble. The exact formula injected into the skin varies and would depend largely on the type of condition it is meant to treat.
Who Should Undergo and Expected Results
Mesotherapy is a versatile treatment that has been in use for over 50 years for the treatment of a multitude of conditions. It can be recommended for:
Athletes – Some athletes and physically active individuals turn to mesotherapy to treat muscle inflammation and soreness caused by injury and overuse. Specially formulated solutions can be injected directly to the mesoderm to address such conditions quickly. The procedure can also be used to dissolve and remove bone spurs and calcification that develop in the biceps and rotator cuff tendons of athletes.
Individuals experiencing musculoskeletal pain - Those suffering from arthritis, sprains, back pain, and tendinitis can also find relief from mesotherapy.
Patients with neuralgia - Mesotherapy may be offered to those diagnosed with neuralgia, a condition characterized by intense pain that occurs intermittently along a damaged nerve. This typically occurs in the face and neck but can also affect other parts of the body.
Cancer patients with lymphedema – These individuals can also be advised to try mesotherapy as a means to manage their condition. Lymphedema refers to the swelling of arms and legs due to the damage or removal of lymph nodes as part of cancer treatment.
Individuals looking for cosmetic solutions - The last decades have seen the value of mesotherapy in improving one’s appearance. Obese patients may be administered a specific formula to dissolve fat, break down damaged connective tissue, and generally improve circulation. This allows specialists to perform body sculpting on individuals who need to lose extra weight and enhance their physical appearance. Mesotherapy can also improve skin complex by stimulating the production of collagen, prevent the appearance of wrinkles and age spots, and treat hair loss.
The results of mesotherapy sessions vary according to the type of conditions being treated. However, improvements are typically noticeable after three or more sessions, especially for those undergoing the procedure for cosmetics purposes. Mesotherapy also provides immediate relief for those suffering from painful conditions. Patients are usually sent home after treatment and can resume their daily activities a day after but are typically advised to avoid strenuous physical activities for several days.
How is the Procedure Performed?
Before mesotherapy can be performed, patients are scheduled for a pre-treatment consultation session where the procedure is thoroughly discussed and the patients’ expectations managed. Individuals who qualify for the procedure are typically injected a small amount of mesotherapy formula and asked to return after several days to check for allergic reactions.
There are several techniques to perform mesotherapy. The most common is the standard needle procedure, which involves the use of a fine needle to inject the formula into the mesoderm. Depending on the condition being treated and the goal of the procedure, several injections to the target area may be needed.
Some physicians use a gun system to administer several shallow injections all at once. This technique is preferred for those who wish to break down fat tissues in a localized spot.
Recently, a needleless technique was developed to deliver mesotherapy formula directly to the skin without making any puncture. A specialized machine exfoliates a part of the skin and delivers medications through small, electrical pulses.
Possible Risks and Complications
Despite careful planning and consultation, undergoing mesotherapy can still result in the following:
- Allergic reactions to injected substances
- Bruising in the injection sites, though this typically disappears after a few days
- Swelling around the injection sites
- Infection brought about by mycobacteria
- Tender nodules under the skin
- Damage to nearby cells and tissues (if too much phosphatidylcholine is injected)
Nausea and vomiting
Rittes, PG; Rittes, JC; Carriel, Amary MF (2006). "Injection of phosphatidylcholine in fat tissue: experimental study of local action in rabbits". Aesthetic Plast Surg. 30 (Jul-Aug;30(4):474-8.): 474–8.
Amin S, Phelps R, Goldberg D (2006). "Mesotherapy for facial skin rejuvenation: a clinical, histologic, and electron microscopic evaluation". Dermatol Surg 32 (12): 1467–72.