In a recent study, researchers from Northwestern Medicine show that carbon dioxide gas injections (carboxytherapy) can help reduce fat around the stomach.
Although currently the changes were modest and did not result in the long-term fat reduction, the team suggests that the method could be a new and effective means of fat reduction.
Current technologies routinely used for non-invasive fat reduction include cryolipolysis, high-intensity ultrasound, radiofrequency, chemical adipocytolysis and laser-assisted fat reduction.
Carboxytherapy has been performed primarily outside the U.S., with a few clinical studies suggesting it may provide a lasting improvement in abdominal contours.
The way carboxytherapy works is not well understood. It is believed that injection of carbon dioxide causes changes in the microcirculation, and damages fat cells.
In the study, the team examined the effectiveness of carboxytherapy for fat reduction and they wanted to see if any benefits could last for six months.
The study consisted of 16 adults who were not overweight (body mass of 22 to 29) and was randomized to get a weekly carbon dioxide gas injection to one side of their abdomens and a sham treatment on the other side once a week for five weeks.
A high-resolution ultrasound showed a reduction in superficial fat after five weeks but not at 28 weeks in the carboxytherapy group.
The patients’ body weight did not change over the course of the study.
This suggests the treatment stimulated a temporary metabolic process that reduced the size of fat cells without inducing cell death.
The new technique’s benefits are that it is a “safe, inexpensive gas, and injecting it into fat pockets may be preferred by patients who like natural treatments.
If carboxytherapy can provide prolonged benefits, it offers patients a good noninvasive option for fat reduction. But this requires more improvement.
The lead author Dr. Murad Alam is vice chair of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a Northwestern Medicine physician.
The study is published in Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
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